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Windfall Benefits For Only Certain Rail Workers Are Upheld


In U.S. Railroad Retirement Board v. Fritz, the U.S. Supreme Court considers changes in the federal retirement benefits program for railroad employees. Before the changes, railroad employees who worked for a certain number of years were qualified to receive retirement benefits, even if their years of service outside the railroad industry also qualified them to receive Social Security. Congress decided that it was too expensive for the government to pay the workers under both programs, so the 1974 Railroad Retirement Act barred dual payments to some future retirees. The Court rules that Congress’ decision to award the benefits to some workers but not to others is a rational way of phasing out the benefits and, consequently, is not a violation of due process.