[Excerpt] The Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-16) increased monthly annuities for many Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) widow and widower beneficiaries. The legislation added a guaranty amount — a temporary supplemental payment — to the initial annuities, making them greater than previously. However, the legislation also provided that the monthly annuities would not increase with annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) while guaranty amounts are paid, in effect keeping them constant for several years.
The rules for widow(er) annuities are a source of confusion among RRB beneficiaries. Many believe they are worse off after the 2001 law. However, all widow(er)s who are eligible to receive the initial minimum amount provided by the 2001 law receive an annuity that is greater than or equal to the annuity they would have received under the prior law. This report explains the provisions of the 2001 law that affect widow(er) annuities and provides an illustration of the annuities under both prior law and current law. The report will not be updated.