57.001: Social Insurance for Railroad Workers

Objectives: To pay rail social security, rail industry pensions, Federal windfall benefits, supplemental annuities, permanent and occupational disability, and sickness and unemployment benefits to workers and their families.



Applicant Eligibility: Under the Railroad Retirement Act, for employee, spouse and survivor benefits the employee must have had 10 or more years of railroad service. For survivors to be eligible for benefits, the employee must also have been insured at death. Under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, an employee must have earned at least $2,100.00 in railroad wages in calendar year 1994, $2,125.00 in calendar year 1995 and $2,162.50 in calendar year 1996 (counting no more than $840 in any month in calendar year 1994, $850 in calendar year 1995 and $865 in calendar year 1996) and, if a new employee, must have worked for a railroad at least five months in a calendar (base) year to be a qualified employee in the applicable benefit year.

Beneficiary Eligibility: Individuals, families, pension recipients.

Credentials/Documentation: Proof of age for retirement benefits; proof of marriage for spouse's or survivor's benefits; medical evidence for disability or sickness benefits; registration for proof of unemployment; Proof of relationship; Proof of military service; and other proofs as required by law.


Preapplication Coordination: None.

Application Procedure: Application for retirement, disability, survivor, unemployment or sickness benefits should be made to any office of the Railroad Retirement Board.

Award Procedure: The Office of Retirement and Survivor Programs makes awards under the Railroad Retirement Act and the Bureau of Unemployment and Sickness Insurance makes awards under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

Deadlines: Benefits not payable earlier than specified period prior to application, varying with type of benefits; insurance lump-sum death payments application deadline is two years after employee's death. Applicants may contact any Railroad Retirement Board Office to obtain information relative to a specific type of benefit administered under the Railroad Retirement Act or the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time: Varies depending upon complexity of claim.

Appeals: Initial appeals are made to the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals. Subsequent appeals from initial determinations may be made to the Board and ultimately to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Renewals: Not applicable.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals: Not applicable.

Examples of Funded Projects: Not applicable.

Range & Average of Financial Assistance: (1) Employee age annuities-monthly maximum $2,362 average $1,176; (2) employee disability-monthly maximum $2,337, average $1,229; (3) employee supplemental annuities-monthly maximum $70, average $43; (4) spouse benefits-monthly maximum $1,126, average $474; (5) widows and widowers monthly maximum $1,820, average $706; (6) widowed mothers and fathers monthly maximum $1,504, average $879; (7) children-monthly maximum $1,337, average $608; (8) unemployment and sickness-weekly maximum for benefit year 1996-97 $180, expected average $180.


57.001 PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In fiscal year 1995, benefits were paid to an estimated 879,000 retirees and their families, survivors of deceased railroad workers, and unemployed or sick railroad workers. Under the provisions of the Railroad Retirement Act, in fiscal year 1995, there were 45,083 applications for benefits and 44,671 awards made. Under the provisions of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, in benefit year 1995-1996, there were 50,432 applications for benefits and 35,799 beneficiaries paid.



Type of Assistance: Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use.

Obligations: (Benefit Payments) FY 95 $8,147,000,000; FY 96 est $8,249,000,000; and FY 97 est $8,323,000,000.

Budget Account Number: 60-8011-0-7-601; 60-8010-0-7-601; 60-8012-0-7-601; 60-8051-0-7-603; 60-0111-0-1-601; 60-0113-0-1-601; 60-0200-0-1-601.

Authorization: Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, Public Law 74-271, 49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. Chapter 7, Subchapter 2; Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, as amended, Public Law 75-722, 52 Stat. 1094, 45 U.S.C. 351-367; Railroad Retirement Act of 1974, as amended, Public Law 93-445, 88 Stat. 1305, 45 U.S.C. 231-231u.

Regulations, Guidelines, & Literature: A series of free leaflets is available from the Office of Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board.


Regional or Local Office: Colorado: Louis E. Austin, 1999 Broadway, Suite 3380 Box 7, Denver, CO 80202-5737, Phone: (303) 391-5864; Georgia: Patricia Lawson, 101 Marietta St., Suite 2304, Atlanta, GA 30323-3001, Phone: (404) 331-2691; Pennsylvania: Richard D. Baird, 1421 Cherry Street, Suite 670, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1413. Phone: (215) 656-6947.

Headquarters Office: Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2092. Phone: (312) 751-4777, Contact: William Poulos.


Formula & Matching Requirements: Not applicable.

Length & Time Phasing of Assistance: Not applicable.

Uses & Use Restrictions: Under the provisions of the Railroad Retirement Act and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, benefits are provided for: (1) workers who retire because of age or disability; including supplemental annuities for long-service employees; (2) eligible spouses and divorced spouses of retired employees; (3) surviving widows, widowers, divorced spouses, children, and dependent parents of deceased employees; (4) unemployed workers; and (5) workers who are sick or injured. In addition, the Railroad Retirement Board participates in the administration of the Federal medical health insurance program for the aged and the disabled, which covers railroad retirement beneficiaries on the same basis as other eligible persons.


Reports: Various conditions explained on the benefit application certification form as affecting eligibility, e.g., earnings, marriage, divorce, recovery from disability, return to employer service, should be reported.

Audits: Not applicable.

Records: Not applicable.

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