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RR & Congress not paying into Social Security?

Both of my grandfathers worked for a railroad and both were still working at the time of their death. They are not listed in SSDI. Neither are their widows listed. I have been told that railroad workers are not listed because they were not covered by Social Security -- their retirement pensions were paid through the Railroad Retirement Act. After the deaths of my grandfathers, their wives received small pensions from the Railroad Retirement Board. When the widows died, they are not listed in SSDI. Both sets of grandparents died prior to 1973 during the period when Railroad Retirement was separate from Social Security. In the 1970s it merged, so a railroad worker who died after that merge date should be listed in the SSDI. This brings to mind other workers who are not covered under SS, such as congressmen. Please check on this for me and let your readers know that not all workers contribute to SS, thus their deaths will not be found in the SSDI. Thank you. -- Barbara J. McNamara.

THANK-YOU for writing. There are a few problematic statements in your email. Suffice it to say that there are a variety of reasons why one never received a Social Security card, just as there are a variety of reasons why one may never appear on the Social Security Death Index. In no way should US researchers consider the SSDI a post-1969 "national death index" because it simply isn't.

For instance, before the IRS began to require SS# on each dependent, widows frequently did not work outside the home, but later received monthly benefits from their deceased husband's account. These women didn't have their own SS#, and for that reason their deaths weren't reported to the SS Administration.

Your reference to the merging of the Railroad Retirement Board with the Social Security Administration implies a disolution of the RR Retirement Board, which simply isn't accurate. See the Railroad Retirement Board website which states "Each year, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board prepares a "Certificate of Service Months and Compensation" (Form BA-6) for every railroad employee who received creditable railroad compensation in the previous calendar year. The forms will be mailed to employees by the Board during the first half of June. While every effort has been made to compile and keep current the addresses of all active railroad employees, employees for whom compensation was reported in 2004, but who have not received Form BA-6 by July 1, or need a replacement, should contact the nearest Board field office."

The "Social Security Online" website mentioned in the original DearMYRTLE article also lists answers to your questions such as:


A. "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 10 years (120 service months) of railroad industry work or 5 years of railroad industry work after 1995. If you worked in the railroad industry fewer than 10 years and fewer than 5 years after 1995, we will include your railroad earnings when we count your credits and calculate your Social Security benefits. On your Social Security Statement, we display such railroad earnings from 1973 to the present in the yearly earnings amounts. We do not display railroad earnings before 1973 on your Statement, but we do include them in your benefit estimate calculation.

NOTE: Since 1973, the railroad retirement tax rates have been the same as the Social Security and Medicare tax rates, so we included those earnings when we figured your estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes on the Statement. Before 1973, the tax rates for railroad retirement were different from Social Security. We do not include the earlier taxes in the estimated tax amounts on the Statement. If you have questions about the earlier taxes, please contact the Railroad Retirement Board.

If you have 10 or more years of railroad work or at least 5 years after 1995, we will not use those earnings in determining your Social Security credits or benefit amount. We do not include them with your other earnings on your Statement. You should contact a Railroad Retirement Board office or toll-free telephone number for information about railroad pension benefits based on those earnings." see:


A: No, it is not true. All members of Congress, the President and Vice President, Federal judges, and most political appointees, were covered under the Social Security program starting in January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else. Thus all members of Congress, no matter how long they have been in office, have been paying into the Social Security system since January 1984."


-- DearMYRTLE's (original article prompting this article) SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX LISTINGS

-- RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Toll-free number, 1-800-808-0772,

-- THE HISTORICAL GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN RAILROADS: 160 Lines Abandoned or Merged Since 1930 by George H. Drury. 480 pages. Kalmbach Publishing Company; 2nd edition (November 1, 1999) ISBN: 0890243565

-- (A book) THE DIRECTORY OF NORTH AMERICAN RAILROADS, ASSOCIATIONS, SOCIETIES, ARCHIVES, LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS & THEIR COLLECTIONS Compiled by Holly T. Hansen. 1999. Self-published, no ISBN. From the publisher: "From 1805 to the present railroads have grown and expanded across North America. In Colonial times, adventurers, businessmen, immigrants and their commodities depended upon ships to move them across the great waters. Then, as this continent developed, railroads moved the same types of people across great expanses of the North American hinterland. In the process, this great motion caused countless records to be created." 134 pages - $14.95 plus shipping and handling.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

1995-2009 Pat Richley HOME | Ask | Blog Right-click to copy RSS feed URL. Add to My Yahoo BookShelf | ContactLessons | Listen to Podcast media RSS feed
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