Millions of Americans use Social Security for retirement income. But it isn't the only such program out there. Railroad Retirement is another system that provides income to former workers.

In the following video from our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Fool reader Kathleen, who asks whether she can collect both the spousal pension she is receiving from Railroad Retirement and Social Security based on her own work history. Dan notes that the programs aren't identical, but they largely serve the same purposes. He also points out that taking benefits from both programs at the same time can be counterproductive and lead to benefit reductions, while waiting until a later time to collect Social Security benefits can be the smarter choice. Dan concludes that it's smart to talk with both Social Security and with Railroad Retirement to confirm what effect each will have on the other when it comes to benefits.

Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.