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Everything You Need to Know About Railroad Retirement Benefits

Approximately one-third of all Americans have not planned ahead for retirement and have no retirement savings. Railroad workers are in a better position than most thanks to the Railroad Retirement Board system.

They pay into the system through payroll deductions that are matched with funds from their employers. Those funds coupled with credits from the months of service give railroad workers access to two tiers of benefits when they retire.

Railroad retirement benefits are similar to Social Security but are unique to railroad workers. So if you’re wondering do railroad workers get benefits, they do. If you need legal help getting your benefits upon your railroad worker retirement, keep reading to find out how it works.


At the end of last year, career railroad workers received an average age annuity of $3,645/month. The average for all retired railroad workers was $2910/month.

Spouse benefits were an average of $1065/month. These numbers are significantly higher than Social Security benefits at $1460/month.

Disabled workers received $3,145/month on average when they retired directly from the railroad industry.

Tier I

In addition to retirement benefits, Tier 1 pays disability benefits, occupational disability benefits for those who can still do some type of work, retirement benefits to spouses, and widow’s survivor and surviving children benefits in the event the employee parent/spouse has passed.

Tier II

This tier is set up like a private pension and is based on the employee’s average income for their five highest-earning years. Spouses and surviving widows are also eligible for this benefit.

What is the Service Requirement?

For service performed before 1995, the basic requirement for a regular employee annuity is 120 months or 10 years. If the service was performed after 1995, the requirement is 60 months or 5 years. The months of service do not have to be consecutive and military service sometimes counts as railroad service.

The benefits received upon retirement are based on the months of service and earning credits.

When Do Railroad Workers Retire?

Wondering how to retire? Railroad workers can begin drawing benefits at age 60 if they have 30 years of qualifying service. Employees with 10-29 years of creditable service (5-9 years, if at least 5 years occurred after 1995) are eligible to receive benefits when they are 62. Benefit amounts are reduced just like Social Security each year before an employee reaches the full retirement age of 65 or 67.

Applying for Benefits

Benefits do not start automatically. Just as with Social Security, you have to apply for them. You do this by contacting the nearest Railroad Retirement Board office.

You can submit your application up to three months before you plan to retire. You’ll need to provide proof of age, Social Security benefits documentation, proof of military service if applicable, and bank information for direct deposit.

Do you want to know more about the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)? Learn more here.

Railroad Retirement Benefits

Now that you know everything you need to know about railroad retirement benefits, you can proceed in getting what you deserve from your years of service on the railroad and your contributions to the system created by the Railroad Retirement Act.

Be sure to bookmark our site for easy access to the latest news about the law. If you’re in search of informative news about legal issues, from finding an attorney to what steps to take following an accident, we have you covered.

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