Railroad Retirement Program--How Does It Compare to Other Selected Retirement Programs?

HRD-79-41: Published: Jun 8, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 1979.

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The railroad retirement program's eligibility requirements, benefits, and financing were compared with the social security, civil service retirement, military retirement, and veterans pension programs. Comparative information was requested that could be used in making decisions as to the need for changing the benefits or structure of the railroad retirement program.

Since much of the data for fiscal year (FY) 1978 were not available, benefit amounts were compared using mostly FY 1977 data. While all the programs provide family maintenance income, they vary widely in size, scope, eligibility requirements, benefits, employment and income restrictions, and employee contributions. Average benefits in 1977 to retired railroad employees were less than those for civil service and military retirees. When spouse benefits available under railroad retirement but not under the other two programs were considered, total family benefits were sometimes higher. Civil service and military retirement benefits are taxable, thus reducing the financial advantage they have over other programs. Dual benefit reductions for most of the programs have offsets to prevent payments by two federal agencies based on the same service. Railroad retirement has the most work restrictions. Railroad workers are subject to the same payroll tax for retirement benefits as workers covered by social security. The military retirement and veterans pension programs require no employee contributions.

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