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In this article, I will discuss about retirement benefits applicable to Railroad workers in the United States. I have been getting a lot of questions on the issue, as many railroad employees are desirous to know about the eligibility and other related question to today’s topic.

When you can claim your Railroad Retirement Benefits?

You are eligible to claim your Railroad Retirement Benefits if you are 60 years old, with 30 years of service or have reached to retirement age i.e., 62.

Are Railroad Employees entitled to Social Security Benefits?

The straightforward answer to this question is that Railroad Employees are entitled to receive Social security benefits, however, as railroad workers fall under the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), their system operates slightly differently. It is added here that RRB manages various benefit programs, ranging from providing financial security for retired and disabled railroad employees, as well as survivors benefits to their families.    

Tier 1 Benefits

Similarly to Social Security, your Tier 1 benefit is likely to be reduced if you decide to take your retirement benefits early. You can take it as early as you are 62 years of age, but there will be permanent reduction if you do so. The benefits include retirement, disability and survivor benefits. Tier 1 benefits are based on your individual earnings history and are subject to age and service requirements.

Full retirement age for Railroad workers is based on their birth year. It typically ranges from age 65 to 67. As I mentioned above, if a Railroad worker decides to retire at age 60 his/her benefits will be reduced, however, the reduction is not as much as claiming the benefits at age 62, which is earliest possible age to claim Social Security benefits.

Tier 2 Benefits

On the other hand, Tier 2 benefits, provide additional support in addition to being already provided in Tier 1. However, these benefits are based on a formula that takes into account your career average earnings and years of service. These benefits are intended to enhance the overall retirement package.

It is added here that both Tier 1 and Tier 2 benefits ensure financial security during retirement and provide assistance in case of disability or death. You should always consider the impact of your early retirement on overall benefits amount and also carefully evaluate your financial situation before claiming your Railroad retirement benefits.      

Difference between Social Security and Railroad Benefits

One of the differences between Social Security and Railroad benefits is that Social Security is based on earnings, but Railroad does not just look at earnings, but they look at specified period of time that you have been working. It is 120 months as of 2013 or it just looks at five years of roadwork (only if you are after 1995).   

Can you delay claiming your Railroad Benefits?

Same like Social Security benefits you can also delay claiming your Railroad retirement benefits. It would result in higher monthly payments like Social Security and also potentially maximizing your Spousal Benefits. If you can delay it until 70 years of age, you will get maximum retirement benefits. But if you need immediate financial support or you are not good health you should claim your benefits early. 

However, claiming early would result in lower monthly payments and a permanent reduction in overall benefits. However, you should decide about claiming the benefits keeping in view your personal situation and financial needs. Moreover, you should consult a good financial advisor in this regard, who can help you to plan for the future.   

Can you claim both Social Security and Railroad Benefits?

As we discussed earlier that Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) operates separately, so unfortunately you cannot receive payments from Social Security and RRB at the same time. It is pertinent to mention here that Railroad Retirement Board works with Social Security and its not Social Security’s subsidiary. Another important thing to note is that RRB monthly payment is greater than Social Security monthly payment.   

Railroad Retirement benefits and Medicare

When it comes to Railroad Retirement as well as Medicare, you are eligible for Medicare and are automatically enrolled in Medicare if you are collecting Railroad benefits at age 65, you will receive both Medicare A and B.

Are Railroad Retirement benefits taxable?

Yes, Railroad retirement benefits are generally subject to federal income tax, however, it depends on various factors, including your total income and filing status.

States that do not tax Railroad Retirement benefits

There are several states including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Taxes, Washington and Wyoming that do not tax railroad retirement benefits

How to apply for Railroad Retirement Benefits?

You can apply your Railroad retirement benefits by contacting nearest Railroad Retirement Board office. To contact your local Railroad Retirement Board office call at 877-772-5772 or use or RRB zip locater at to find your nearest office.  


So, in today’s article I tried to fully explain the Railroad Retirement Benefits and the system of Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and how it works. It is added here that RRB has its own version of Social Security. Although RRB works with Social Security Administration but it has its own system and it has nothing to do with it. The RRB makes sure that if you are Railroad worker, you get special benefits when you retire of if you are dealing with a disability. They also provide Social Security benefits to the family of deceased workers.

Thanks for reading and hope you find this article helpful to understand the issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any additional questions.


Q. What is the Full Retirement Age of Railroad Workers?

A. The earliest age at which an Railroad worker receive benefits without any reduction ranges from 65 for individuals born before 1938 to age 67 those born in 1960 or later.

Q. Are Railroad Retirement Benefits higher than Social Security?

A. Yes. Railroad retirement benefits are higher than Social Security benefits.

Q. Can your Spouse collect your Railroad Retirement Benefits?

A.  Yes, same like Social Security, your spouse ca receive your Railroad Retirement benefits.

Q. Can your minor children collect your Railroad Retirement Benefits?

A. Unlike Social Security, children an only receive railroad benefits if the parent is deceased.

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