The age requirements for a spouse annuity depend on the employee's age and date of retirement and the employee's years of railroad service. Benefits can be paid to eligible spouses in same-sex marriages.
- If a retired employee with 30 years of service is age 60, the employee's spouse is also eligible for an annuity the first full month the spouse is age 60. Certain early retirement reductions are applied if the employee first became eligible for a 60/30 annuity July 1, 1984, or later and retired at ages 60 or 61 before 2002. If the employee was awarded a disability annuity, has attained age 60 and has 30 years of service, the spouse can receive an unreduced annuity the first full month she or he is age 60, regardless of whether the employee annuity began before or after 2002 as long as the spouse's annuity beginning date is after 2001.
- If a retired employee with less than 30 years of service is age 62, the employee's spouse is also eligible for an annuity the first full month the spouse is age 62. Early retirement reductions are applied to the spouse annuity if the spouse retires prior to her or his full retirement age. Full retirement age for a spouse is gradually rising to age 67, just as for an employee, depending on the year of birth. Reduced benefits are still payable at age 62, but the maximum reduction will be 35 percent rather than 25 percent by the year 2022. The tier II portion of a spouse annuity is not reduced beyond 25 percent if the employee had any creditable railroad service before August 12, 1983.
- A spouse of an employee receiving an age and service annuity (or a spouse of a disability annuitant who is otherwise eligible for an age and service annuity) is eligible for a spouse annuity at any age if caring for the employee's unmarried child, and the child is under age 18. The spouse is also eligible if caring for the employee's disabled child of any age who became disabled before age 22.
The employee must have been married to the spouse for at least 1 year, unless the spouse is the natural parent of their child, the spouse was eligible or potentially eligible for a railroad retirement widow(er)'s, parent's, or disabled child's annuity in the month before marrying the employee, or the spouse was previously married to the employee and received a spouse annuity. However, entitlement to a surviving divorced spouse, surviving divorced young mother (father), or remarried widow(er) annuity does not waive the 1-year marriage requirement.
An annuity may also be payable to the divorced wife or husband of a retired employee if their marriage lasted for a period of at least 10 years immediately before the date the divorce became final, both have attained age 62 for a full month, and the divorced spouse is not currently married. The amount of a divorced spouse's annuity is, in effect, equal to what social security would pay in the same situation and therefore less than the amount of the spouse annuity otherwise payable (tier I only). A divorced spouse can receive an annuity even if the employee has not retired, provided they have been divorced for a period of not less than 2 years, the employee and former spouse are at least age 62, and the employee is fully insured under the Social Security Act using combined railroad and social security earnings. Also, a court-ordered partition payment may be paid even if the employee is not entitled to an annuity provided that the employee has 10 years of railroad service or 5 years after 1995 and both the employee and former spouse are 62.