Upon the death of the Railroad employee, survivor benefits may become payable. Survivor benefits are payable in the form of a monthly survivor annuity or payable as a lump sum payment. Monthly annuities are payable to widow(er)s, remarried widow(er)s, surviving divorced spouses, children, grandchildren, students and parents, that meet the established eligibility requirements which will be based on either age, disability or having a child in care.
If there are no survivors qualified for a monthly annuity immediately at the death of the Railroad employee, the lump-sum death benefit may become payable. 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 will be 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. Additional information on this topic can be found in the RRB form, IB-2.