§ 404.1401What is the interrelationship between the Railroad Retirement Act and the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program of the Social Security Act?
(a)Background. The Railroad Retirement Act provides a system of benefits for railroad employees, their dependents and survivors, and is integrated with the Social Security Act to provide a coordinated system of retirement, survivor, dependent and disability benefits payable on the basis of an individual's work in the railroad industry and in employment and self-employment covered by the Social Security Act. With respect to the coordination between the two programs, the Railroad Retirement Act distinguishes between “career” or “vested” railroad workers and those individuals who may be considered “casual” or “non-vested” railroad workers based on the total amount of railroad service credited to the worker, as explained in paragraph (b) of this section. The Railroad Retirement Board transfers to the Social Security Administration (SSA) the compensation records of workers who at the time of retirement, onset of disability or death, are non-vested and meet certain other requirements. Any compensation paid to non-vested workers for service after 1936 becomes wages under the Social Security Act (to the extent they do not exceed the annual wage limitations described in § 404.1047). Any benefits payable to non-vested workers, their dependents, and their survivors, are computed on the basis of the combined compensation and social security covered earnings creditable to the workers' records. Once a railroad worker meets the vesting requirements, the record of the worker's railroad service and compensation generally may not be used for benefit purposes under the Social Security Act, but under certain circumstances may be transferred after the worker's death to SSA for use in determining social security benefit entitlement for the railroad worker's survivors (see§ 404.1407). Under certain circumstances (see§ 404.1413), certification of benefits payable under the provisions of the Social Security Act will be made to the Railroad Retirement Board. The Railroad Retirement Board will certify such benefits to the Secretary of the Treasury.
(b)Who is a vested railroad worker? You are a vested railroad worker if you have:
(1) Ten years or more of service in the railroad industry, or
(2) Effective January 1, 2002, you have at least 5 years of service in the railroad industry, all of which accrue after December 31, 1995.
(c)Definition of years of service. As used in paragraph (b) of this section, the term years of service has the same meaning as assigned to it by section 1(f) of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974, as amended, (45 U.S.C. 231(f)).