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Social Insurance For Railroad Workers

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Social Insurance For Railroad Workers


Federal Agency




Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, Public Law 74-271, 49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. 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.






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.


Types of Assistance

Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use.


Uses and 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.


Eligibility Requirements

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 or, for annuities beginning January 2002 or later, 5 years of railroad service rendered after 1995. 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 $2,875.00 in railroad wages in calendar year 2005, $2,987.50 in calendar year 2006, and $3,075.00 in calendar year 2007 (counting no more than $1150 in any month in calendar year 2005, $1,195 in calendar year 2006 and $1,230 in calendar year 2007) and, if a new employee, must have worked for a railroad at least 5 months in a calendar (base) year to be a qualified employee in the applicable benefit year.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Individuals, families, pension recipients.


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.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

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 Programs makes awards under the Railroad Retirement Act and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.


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.


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.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.


Post Assistance Requirements


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.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Financial Information

Account Identification

60-8011-0-7-601; 60-8010-0-7-601; 60-8051-0-7-603; 60-0111-0-1-601; 60-0113-0-1-601.


(Benefit Payments) FY 07 $9,907,000,000; FY 08 est $10,178,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

(1) Employee age annuities-monthly maximum $3,713.00, average $1,789.00; (2) employee disability-monthly maximum $3,676.00, average $1,920.00; (3) employee supplemental annuities-monthly maximum $70.00, average $42.00; (4) spouse benefits-monthly maximum $1,773.00, average $678.00; (5) widows and widowers monthly maximum $3,666.00, average $1116.00; (6) widowed mothers and fathers monthly maximum $3,187.00, average $1,423.00; (7) children-monthly maximum $2,107.00, average $823.00; (8) unemployment and sickness-weekly maximum for benefit year 2007 to 2008 $295.00, expected average $295.00.


Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2006, benefits were paid to an estimated 643,000 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 2006, there were 35,617 applications for benefits and 33,993 awards made. Under the provisions of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, in benefit year 2005 to 2006, there were 37,840 applications for benefits and 27,568 beneficiaries paid.


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

A series of free leaflets is available from Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board.


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Colorado: Louis E. Austin, 1999 Broadway, Suite 3300 Box 7, Denver, CO 80202-5737, Telephone: (303) 844-0800; Georgia: Patricia Lawson, 401 W. Peachtree St., Suite 1703, Atlanta, GA 30308-3519, Telephone: (404) 331-2691; Pennsylvania: Richard D. Baird, Nix Federal Building, 900 Market Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 19107-4228. Telephone: (215) 597-2647.

Headquarters Office

Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2092. Telephone: (312) 751- 4777, Contact: Anita Rogers.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

17.225, Unemployment Insurance
17.302, Longshore And Harbor Workers' Compensation
93.773, Medicare-Hospital Insurance
93.774, Medicare-Supplementary Medical Insurance
96.001, Social Security-Disability Insurance
96.002, Social Security-Retirement Insurance
96.003, Social Security_Special Benefits for Persons Aged 72 and Over;
96.004, Social Security-Survivors Insurance


Examples of Funded Projects

Not applicable.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.


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