Employee Disability Benefits
About Your Disability Annuity
Occupational Disability Annuity
If you are unable to work in your regular railroad job, you may qualify for
an occupational disability annuity.
To receive an occupational disability annuity, you must:
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Total and Permanent Disability Annuity
If you are unable to work in any kind of regular job, you may qualify for a
total and permanent disability annuity.
To receive a total and permanent disability annuity, you must:
- stop all work, and
- have 120 months of creditable railroad service, or have at least 60 months
of creditable railroad service after 1995. (If you have less than 120 months
of creditable railroad service, your Tier II benefit cannot begin before you attain
age 62.) and
- be "permanently disabled" for any
kind of "regular work".
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When Your Disability Annuity Can Begin
You may select the date you wish your disability annuity payments to begin.
The day you may select is either:
- the earliest date permitted by law, or
- another date that may be more advantageous to you.
A. General Rule
Generally, the earliest annuity beginning date permitted by law is the latest
of the following:
- The first day of the 12th month before the month in which the Railroad
Retirement Board (RRB) received your annuity application, or
- the first day of the month following the disability annuity waiting
B. Previous Disability Annuity Rule
If you previously received a disability annuity which ended within 5 years of
the month your current disability begins, the earliest annuity beginning date
permitted by law is the latest of the following:
- The first day of the 12th month before the month in which the RRB received
your annuity application, or;
- the first day of the month you again became disabled.
If the date you select is earlier than the earliest date permitted by law,
your annuity will begin on the earliest date permitted by law.
C. Disability Annuity Waiting Period
If the beginning date of your annuity is determined under the General Rule as
described above, a waiting period must be completed before your annuity can
begin. The waiting period ends the last day of the 5th month after the month
your disability began.
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How Work Can Affect Your Disability Annuity Payments
Work and earnings can affect the payment of your annuity and must be reported
promptly to the RRB in order to avoid potential overpayments and penalties. The
following describes the effect of work on your benefit payments.
A. Work in the Railroad Industry
Your annuity cannot be paid for any month that you work in the railroad
B. Work for Your Last Nonrailroad Employer
Your Tier II and supplemental annuity, if any, are subject to deductions for
earnings from your last nonrailroad employer. The deduction is $1 for each $2 in
earnings not to exceed 50% of these components.
C. Work for any Employer
Note: Section C refers to disability earnings limits. Refer to Form
AB-31, How Work Affects Your Disability Annuity, for the current
disability earnings limits.
- Earnings of more than the disability earnings limit from Any Work - If
you are under "full retirement age", your annuity
cannot be paid for any month you do any work and earn over the disability
- Earnings - Earnings include wages
before payroll deductions, commissions, and other payments for work (such as
room and board) and net earnings from self-employment.
- Penalties for Late Reports - If
your earnings are greater than the disability earnings limit* for a month, and
you do not report it to us within two months, you will be penalized.
- The first time that you report late, the penalty is one month's annuity.
- The second time that you report late, the penalty is one month's annuity for
each month you earned over the disability earnings limit.
- End-of-the-Year Adjustment - If your annuity was adjusted because you reported earnings over the disability
earnings limit*, we will send you a form after the end of the calendar year on which to report your earnings. Annuity payments that
have been withheld will be paid if you earned less than the disability earnings
- If you earned more than the disability earnings maximum*, you will not be entitled to an annuity for some months; the number
depends on how much you earned.
- Penalties for late reports can be applied to end-of-year adjustments if
they were not already assessed during the year the excess earnings occurred.
Note: These disability work
restrictions cease upon a disabled employee annuitant's attainment of full
retirement age, when the annuitant becomes subject to the work and earnings
restrictions applicable to employee annuities based on age and service. This
transition is effective no earlier than full retirement age even if the
annuitant had 30 years of service.
* When determining if you have worked over the disability earnings
limit/maximum, you must first deduct any impairment-related work expenses from
your earnings. Impairment-related work expenses include special expenses
you paid for items or services you needed in order to work (see the definition
D. Substantial Gainful Activity
Substantial gainful activity is (in general) work which results in earnings.
(Refer to Form AB-31, How Work Affects Your Disability Annuity). It also refers to work activity involving the
performance of significant physical or mental duties, or a combination of both,
which are productive in nature. If you work and are receiving an annuity based
on total and permanent disability, or if you have a period of disability or
early Medicare, you may be subject to a finding of substantial gainful activity.
E. Work May Raise a Question About Your Condition
Until you reach full retirement age, your work and earnings will be evaluated
to see if you are able to do "regular work".
Also, any work performed after your disability annuity begins may raise a
question about "medical recovery" regardless of the amount of your earnings. If
this happens, you will be asked for additional information about your medical
condition and we may request that you be examined.
In any case, all work and earnings by a disability annuitant must be reported
promptly to the RRB in order to avoid potential overpayments and penalties.
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A Conviction Due to a Criminal Offense Can Affect Your Annuity
The amount of your annuity may be affected if you are:
- convicted due to a criminal offense which was committed after October 19, 1980, or
- imprisoned or confined due to a criminal offense.
See definition of "Confinement (or imprisonment)"
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When Your Disability Annuity Could End
A. At Full Retirement Age
At Full Retirement Age, your entitlement to a disability annuity ends, and
your entitlement to an age-and-service annuity begins. This means that your
entitlement to annuity payments is no longer affected by the restrictions that
apply to disability annuitants as discussed in this booklet. However, your
annuity is still subject to the restrictions discussed in booklet
RB-1, Employee Annuity, for
age-and-service annuitants. If you do not have a copy of this booklet, you
should request one.
B. Before Full Retirement Age
Entitlement to disability annuity payments ends effective with the earliest
- the last day of the month before the month in which your death occurs, or
- the last day of the 2nd month after the month in which disability ends.
Disability ends if:
- you "medically recover" so that you are
able to work, or
- you return to work and hold a job whether or not there has been any
substantial improvement in your condition (see
Trial Work Period).
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