A survivor annuity is not payable for any month the survivor works for an employer covered under the Railroad Retirement Act, regardless of the survivor's age.
Survivors who are receiving social security benefits have their railroad retirement annuity and social security benefit combined for earnings limitations purposes. Prior to the calendar year in which full retirement age is attained, there is a deduction of $1 in benefits for every $2 earned over an exempt amount ($16,920 in 2017). The deduction is $1 for every $3 earned over an exempt amount ($44,880 in 2017) for the months in the calendar year in which the individual attains full retirement age, up to the month of attainment. Work deductions stop effective with the month full retirement age is attained. In the first year in which a survivor is both entitled to an annuity and has a non-work month, a full annuity can be paid for those months in which the survivor had low earnings or did not have substantial self-employment, no matter what total earnings for the year were.
As work and earnings may affect the payment of an annuity, they must be reported promptly to the RRB in order to prevent potential overpayments.
These earnings restrictions do not apply to disabled widow(er)s under age 60 or to disabled children. However, any work or earnings by a disability annuitant must be reported and are reviewed to determine whether they indicate recovery from the disability.