Pension Action Center

Read about clients helped by the center's services and current issues in the pension field

Widow Denied Late Husband’s Pension, Because He’d “Remarried.” The Problem? They’d Never Gotten Divorced!


Mrs. A, a Connecticut resident, contacted the New England Pension Assistance Project (NEPAP) for help with her survivor benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board. Mrs. A’s late husband was a long-time employee of the railroad. Mrs. A and her husband lived apart for the last decade of their marriage, but never got divorced.

Before finding NEPAP, Mrs. A tried to apply for survivor benefits on her own, but the Railroad Retirement Board denied her application. They told Mrs. A that her late husband had allegedly gotten remarried and that his second wife was entitled to survivor benefits. Mrs. A was confused because she and her husband had never been legally divorced! If anyone was entitled to survivor benefits from the railroad, Mrs. A knew she should be receiving them.

NEPAP filed a claim for benefits on Mrs. A’s behalf and after six months of waiting, the Railroad Retirement Board approved our claim. Mrs. A received a one-time retroactive lump-sum payment of $29,263.20 and subsequently began to receive a monthly survivor benefit of $1,259, to be paid for the rest of her life. The overall lifetime value of Mrs. A’s benefits is $249,253.19! Mrs. A wrote at the conclusion of her case, “I was very fortunate to have been assisted by the New England Pension Assistance Project.”

If you would like to request assistance from the Illinois Pension Assistance Project or the New England Pension Assistance Project, please contact us directly by calling 888-425-6067.

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