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Note: Change in requirements to qualify for a Railroad Retirement pension.

In December 2001, Public Law 107-90, The Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001, expanded the basic eligibility requirement for a railroad pension. You now may qualify if you have either:

  • a total of 10 years or more work in the railroad industry OR
  • 5 or more years of railroad work that was performed after 1995.

The explanation that follows reflects this change, which was effective with January 1, 2002. However, annual Social Security Statements that were issued before November 2002 were not adjusted for the 5-year qualification.


When you work in the railroad industry, your earnings are reported to the Railroad Retirement Board, which keeps your records. To qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, you must have either a total of 10 or more years (120 service months) of railroad industry work or at least 5 years of such work after 1995.

If you worked in the railroad industry for less than 10 years of railroad earnings and less than five years after 1995, we will include your railroad earnings in counting your Social Security credits and calculating your Social Security benefit. (On your annual Social Security Statement, we display such earnings for years from 1973 to the present in the chart of your earnings. We don't show railroad earnings before 1973 on your Statement, but we do use them in calculating your credits and benefit estimates.)

If you have 10 or more years of railroad work or you have five or more years after 1995, we will not use those railroad earnings in determining your Social Security credits or benefit amount. (We do not show them with your other earnings on your Statement.) You should contact a Railroad Retirement Board office or its toll-free telephone number for information about railroad pension benefits based on those earnings.

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Last reviewed or modified Thursday Sep 18, 2008
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