Annuities are payable to surviving widow(er)s, children, and certain other dependents. Lump-sum benefits are payable after the death of a railroad employee only if there are no qualified survivors of the employee immediately eligible for monthly annuities. With the exception of a residual lump-sum death benefit, eligibility for survivor benefits depends on whether or not the employee was insured under the Railroad Retirement Act at the time of death.
An employee is insured if he or she has at least 10 years of railroad service, or 5 years performed after 1995, and a current connection with the railroad industry as of the month the annuity begins or the month of death, whichever occurs first.
If a deceased employee was not so insured, jurisdiction of any survivor benefits payable is transferred to the Social Security Administration and any survivor benefits are paid by that agency instead of the RRB. Regardless of which agency has jurisdiction, the deceased employee's railroad retirement and social security credits will be combined for the purpose of benefit computations.