Railroad Disability Benefits

When an act is not caused by negligence, workers must file a claim for disability benefits with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).

You should seek sickness benefits if you have suffered an injury such as in a grade crossing accident or trucking accident and will require weeks or months to recover before you can return to work.

Two Kinds Of Disability Claims

Where Social Security offers a single disability program, the RRB offers two kinds of disability benefits.

A railroad worker may receive total disability (sometimes called "disability freeze") from the RRB if that employee is permanently disabled from all work and has at least 10 years (120 months) of creditable railroad service. The medical requirements for total disability under RRB are very similar to those under Social Security Disability (SSD).

The second kind of disability under RRB, occupational disability,, is when an employee has at least 20 years (240 months) of railroad service and is permanently disabled from his or her "regular railroad occupation." Unlike the rules regarding SSD or RRB disability freeze, there is no rule that individuals be too disabled to perform any substitute job; they must simply be unable to perform their current job.

Disability Annuity

Disability annuities are available to totally disabled employees with at least 120 but fewer than 240 creditable months. Total disability annuities are granted when an injury causes a permanent disability that will make it impossible to work in any job.

Sickness Benefits

The RRB also provides sickness benefits if a railroad worker is temporarily out of work for an injury or illness. The length of time for which benefits are paid depends on the number of creditable months earned.

Should you develop an occupational disease like deafness or back pain or suffer an injury making it impossible to continue at your railroad job, you can apply for an occupational disability annuity.

To learn more, or to obtain a free case evaluation, contact FELA attorney Fred Bremseth, in Minnetonka, Minnesota, at 952-475-2800.