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Railroad Retirement Bill Passes

September 7, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bill aimed at increasing benefits for railroad retirees passed the House on Thursday.

The bill, approved 391-25, also would ease retirement taxes for railroad workers by allowing the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund balances to be invested in diversified holdings.

Currently, trust fund balances can only be invested in U.S. government securities, which provide a lower rate of return.

Under the increased benefits provisions, surviving spouses would inherit a retiree’s full pension. The surviving spouse now may receive no more than 50 percent of the retiree’s annuity. The bill would also allow for early retirement at age 60 with 30 years of service. Current law requires an employee to be age 62.

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Republican Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania, called the legislation ``landmark.″

``Through investment of the pension portfolio of the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund in a diversified portfolio, the returns to the system will be increased,″ Shuster said.

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The bill, H.R. 4844, can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov

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