Can you get survivor benefits from the Railroad Retirement Act?

When a family member works for the railroad, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board provides for survivor benefits. If your loved one passes away, you may be entitled to these benefits.

The Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) is a federal law that provides disability and retirement annuities for qualified railroad employees. Survivor benefits can be paid to the families of deceased employees who were insured under this act.

What are the survivor benefits provided by the Railroad Retirement Act?

The Railroad Retirement Act allows for annuities to be paid to surviving widows or widowers, children and some other dependents. Typically, annuities are paid monthly, but a lump-sum benefit may be paid if there are no qualified survivors to receive monthly benefits.

When do surviving spouses and their families receive benefits?

To get benefits, your loved one must have been insured under the Railroad Retirement Act at the time of death. Employees are insured if they have worked for at least 10 years in the railroad service or if they worked on the railroad for five years after 1995 and have a current connection with the industry (within a month of the death). If the deceased was not insured, any survivor benefits deemed payable are transferred to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and paid through them directly.

It can be hard to determine to what your family is entitled after your loved one's death. If you are not sure if you qualify for survivor benefits, a California attorney who is well-versed in laws governing railroad workers may be able to provide some clarity about the situation.

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