Social Security Benefits
The tier I portion is reduced by the amount of any social security benefits received by a survivor annuitant, even if the social security benefits are based on the survivor's own earnings. This reduction follows the principles of social security law which, in effect, limit payment to the higher of any two or more benefits payable to an individual at one time. When both railroad retirement annuities and social security benefits are payable, they are generally combined into a single payment issued through the RRB. A survivor annuitant must notify the RRB if any benefits are received directly from the Social Security Administration or if those benefits increase other than for a cost-of-living increase.
The tier I portion of a widow(er)'s annuity may be reduced for receipt of any Federal, State, or local government pension based on the widow(er)'s own earnings. The reduction generally does not apply if the employment on which the pension is based was covered under the Social Security Act throughout the last 60 months of public employment.
Most military service pensions and payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs will not cause a reduction. Pensions paid by a foreign government or interstate instrumentality will also not cause a reduction. For those subject to a public pension reduction, the tier I reduction is equal to 2/3 of the amount of the public pension.
If a widow(er) is also entitled to a railroad retirement employee annuity, and both the widow(er) and the deceased employee started railroad employment after 1974, the survivor annuity (tier I and tier II) payable to the widow(er) is reduced by the full amount of the widow(er)'s own employee annuity.
If a widow or dependent widower is also a railroad employee annuitant, and either the widow(er) or the deceased employee had 10 years of railroad service before 1975, the tier I reduction may be partially restored in the survivor tier II amount.
If either the deceased employee or the survivor annuitant had some railroad service before 1975 but less than 10 years of service, the widow(er)'s own employee annuity and the tier II portion of the survivor annuity would be payable to the widow(er). The tier I portion of the survivor annuity would be payable only to the extent that it exceeds the tier I portion of the widow(er)'s own employee annuity.