Social Security and Railroad Earnings

Working for a railroad means your Social Security benefits may be calculated differently than for other industries. To qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, which maintains your record of earnings, you’ll need to have worked for the railroad at least 120 months or 60 months of railroad work that took place after 1995.

  • For railroad workers whose work history includes less than five years of service since 1995 and less than ten total years of railroad work, your railroad earnings will be added to your other work history to calculate your Social Security credits and your benefits from Social Security. To see your earnings history, you can view your Social Security Statement online. Note that railroad earnings prior to 1973 do not show on your statement but are included in calculating the credits shown and your estimated benefits.
  • Workers who have at least ten years of railroad work or five or more years of railroad work since 1995 usually qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board. The earnings from this railroad will not be used to calculate Social Security credits or benefits.
  • If you’re entitled to a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, you can still receive Social Security benefits as long as your work history includes enough credits to qualify for Social Security based on your non-railroad employment history. However, your Tier 1 Railroad Retirement Annuity will be reduced if you also receive Social Security.

We are here to help if you would like to project what your retirement income options will look like.  Please go to our “Select a Plan” to learn more and sign up and use RAILROAD2017 to save $50 off any plan.

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