Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits
RRB Form UB-9 (July 2012)
This pamphlet is issued for the purpose of general information. Certain
limitations, exceptions, and special cases are not covered.
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The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act provides two kinds
of benefits for railroad employees: unemployment benefits, when you are not
working but are ready, willing and able to work; and sickness benefits, when you
are unable to work because of illness or injury. Sickness benefits are also
payable to female employees unable to work because of pregnancy, miscarriage, or
payments are based on biweekly claims filed with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB),
the Federal agency responsible for administering the Railroad Unemployment
to pay unemployment and sickness benefits are provided by payroll taxes on
railroad employers only. Employees do not pay unemployment insurance taxes.
following describes the requirements for railroad unemployment and sickness
benefits, the amounts payable, and how to claim them.
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Base Year - Benefit Year
benefit year for unemployment and sickness benefits begins every July 1. To
qualify in the benefit year beginning July 1, 2012, you must have base year
earnings of $3,325 in calendar year 2011, counting no more than $1,330 per
month. In the benefit year beginning July 1, 2013, these amounts will increase
to $3,412.50 and $1,365, although they will then refer to annual and monthly
earnings in calendar year 2012. If the base year was your first year of railroad
service, you must also have worked in 5 months of that year.
If you do not meet these requirements but have at least 10 years of service, you
might still be able to qualify under the
conditions for extended and
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The maximum daily
benefit rate payable in the benefit year beginning July 2012 is $66 and, for
biweekly claims, maximum benefits can total $660. The daily benefit rate will
increase to $68 in July 2013, and may increase in future benefit years depending
on the growth in average national wages.
Registration and waiting period.-
normally paid for the number of days of unemployment or sickness over 4 in
14-day registration periods. Initial sickness claims must also begin with 4
consecutive days of sickness. However, during the first 14-day claim period in
a benefit year, benefits are only payable for each day of unemployment or
sickness in excess of 7 which, in effect, provides a 1-week waiting period.
Separate waiting periods are required for unemployment and sickness benefits.
However, only one 7-day waiting period is required during any period of
continuing unemployment or sickness, even if that period continues into a
subsequent benefit year.
If you are
unemployed because of a strike conducted in accordance with the Railway Labor
Act, benefits are not payable for days of unemployment during the first 14 days
of the strike, but benefits are payable during subsequent 14-day periods. If a
strike is in violation of the Railway Labor Act, unemployment benefits are not
payable to employees participating in the strike. However, employees not among
those participating in such an illegal strike, but who are unemployed on account
of the strike, may receive benefits after the first 2 weeks of the strike.
Note.- Sickness benefits
payable for the first 6 months after the month the employee last worked are subject to
tier I railroad retirement payroll taxes, unless benefits are being paid for an
While a benefit year waiting period cannot count toward a strike waiting
period, the 14-day strike waiting period may count as the benefit year waiting
period if you subsequently become unemployed for reasons other than a strike
later in the benefit year.
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Duration of Benefits
are paid for up to 130 days (26 weeks) in a benefit year. Benefit rights are
exhausted when a benefit year ends (normally June 30) or earlier if benefit
payments equal base year creditable earnings. Maximum normal benefits payable
in the benefit year beginning July 2012 cannot exceed your railroad earnings in
base year 2011, counting monthly earnings of up to $1,718. In the benefit year
beginning July 2013, monthly earnings up to $1,763 in base year 2012 will be
In order to
qualify for normal unemployment benefits, the employee must not have voluntarily
quit work without good cause and not have voluntarily retired.
If you have 10 or more years of service (120 cumulative service months or more)
and exhaust your normal unemployment or sickness benefits, you may be eligible
to receive extended benefits for up to 65 days (during 7 consecutive 14-day
registration periods). Also, if you are not qualified for normal benefits in
the current benefit year, but received normal benefits in the previous year, you
may still be eligible for extended benefits.
In order to
qualify for extended unemployment benefits, you must not have voluntarily quit
work without good cause and not have voluntarily retired. To qualify for
extended sickness benefits, you must not have voluntarily retired and must be
under age 65.
If you have 10 or
more years of service (120 cumulative service months or more) and your earnings
do not qualify you for unemployment or sickness benefits in the current benefit
year, but will qualify you in the next benefit year, you may be able to receive
normal unemployment or sickness benefits before the regular beginning date of
the next benefit year. To be eligible, you must have 14 or more consecutive
days of either unemployment or sickness; not have voluntarily retired or, if
claiming unemployment benefits, quit work without good cause; and be under age
65 when claiming sickness benefits.
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To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be ready, willing and able to
work and be available for work. A "day of unemployment" is a day on which you
meet these conditions and do not receive any pay, are not disqualified, and have
properly registered for unemployment benefits. If you are in train and engine
service, any calendar day on which you do not work solely because of a mileage
limitation or work-restriction agreement or solely because you are between
regularly assigned trips or tours of duty, or because you missed a turn in pool
service, is not considered a day of unemployment.
If you are an extra-board employee, you can receive unemployment benefits
between jobs if the miles and/or hours you actually worked were less than the
equivalent of normal full-time work in your class of service during the 14-day
claim period. Entitlement to benefits would also depend on your earnings.
To be eligible
for sickness benefits, you must be unable to work because of illness or injury.
A "day of sickness" is a day on which you meet this condition and for which you
do not receive any pay and have filed an application for sickness benefits and a
statement of sickness signed by your doctor or other authorized individual.
This statement provides evidence of your medical condition and its expected
You may not receive benefits for any day for which you receive pay.
This includes railroad and nonrailroad wages, salary, pay for time lost, pay
while sick, dismissal allowances, most wage guaranty payments, vacation pay,
holiday pay, military reservist pay, earnings from self-employment, or
remuneration other than subsidiary remuneration.
However, payments received under a nongovernmental supplemental unemployment or
sickness insurance plan approved by the RRB, your own health or accident
insurance policy or a group insurance policy will not affect entitlement to
unemployment or sickness benefits and should not be reported on your claims.
Also, an earnings test is applied to unemployment claims. If a claimant's
earnings for days worked, and/or days of vacation or paid leave, in a 14-day
registration period are more than a certain indexed amount, no benefits are
payable for any days of unemployment in that period. Earnings include pay from
self-employment and railroad, nonrailroad, and part-time work. Earnings also
include pay that you would have earned except for your failure to mark up or
report for duty on time, or because you missed a turn in pool service or were
otherwise not ready or willing to work.
For the benefit year beginning July 2012, the earnings test is $1,330; and for
the benefit year that begins July 2013 the test will be $1,365. These amounts
correspond to the base year monthly compensation amounts used in determining
eligibility for benefits in each year. But, even if an earnings test applies on
the first claim in a benefit year, this will not prevent the first claim from
satisfying the waiting period in that benefit year.
On the other
hand, earnings of not more than $15 a day from work which is substantially less
than full-time and not inconsistent with the holding of normal full-time
employment may be considered subsidiary remuneration and may not prevent payment
of any days in a claim. However, be sure to report all full and part-time work
on your claims, regardless of the amount of your earnings, so the RRB can
determine whether it affects your benefits.
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How to Claim Benefits
In order to receive unemployment benefits, you must file an application for
benefits by mail or through the RRB's website (www.rrb.gov). If you choose to
file by mail, you must obtain an application from your employer, labor
organization, local RRB office or online. The completed application should be
mailed to the local RRB office as soon as possible and, in any case, must be
filed within 30 days of the date on which you became unemployed or the first day
for which you wish to claim benefits. Benefits may be lost if the application
is filed late.
To file your application online, you must first establish an RRB Internet
Services account. Once you do this, you will be able to file your application
for unemployment benefits, as well as conduct other business with the RRB, over
the Internet. However, to ensure security, you must first go online to get a
Password Request Code, which you will receive by regular mail within 10 business
days. You can initiate this by going to the agency website, www.rrb.gov, and
clicking on the link for requesting a Password Request Code (PRC) in the
"Benefit Online Services Login" section of the home page. You are encouraged to
establish an online account while still employed so the account is ready if you
ever need to apply for these benefits or use other Internet services. Once you
establish an online account, you do not need to do so again.
Whether you file by mail or online, the local RRB office reviews the completed
unemployment application and notifies your current employer, and your base-year
railroad employer if different. Your employer has the right to provide
information about your benefit application.
Biweekly claim forms are then mailed to you, and are also made available on the
RRB's website, as long as you remain unemployed and eligible for benefits.
Claim forms should be signed and mailed only on or after the last day of the
claim. You also have the option of filing these claims over the Internet. The
completed claim must be received by an RRB office within 15 days of the end of
the claim or the date the claim was mailed to you or made available online,
whichever is later. You should not file both a paper claim and an online claim
for the same period.
The RRB must notify your base-year employer each time you file a claim for
unemployment benefits and give that employer an opportunity to submit
information relevant to the claim before the RRB makes an initial determination
on it. Any current employer is also notified. The RRB also notifies your
base-year employer each time benefits are paid to you.
application need be filed during a benefit year even if you become unemployed
more than once. However, in that case, you must request a new claim form from
an RRB office within 30 days of the first day for which you want to claim
benefits. These claims may then be filed by mail or online.
An application for sickness benefits can be obtained from railroad employers,
railroad labor organizations, any RRB office or printed off the agency's
website. An application and a doctor's statement of sickness are required at
the beginning of each "period of continuing sickness" for which benefits are
claimed. The RRB suggests that you keep an application form on hand for use in
claiming sickness benefits, and that your family knows where the form is kept
and how to use it.
Attached to each application is a statement of sickness which must be completed
by your doctor. If you become unable to work because of sickness or injury,
complete your application and take or send it to your doctor for completion of
the statement of sickness.
If you are too sick to complete the application, someone else may do it for
you. In such cases, a member of your family should also complete Form SI-10,
"Statement of Authority to Act for Employee,"
which accompanies the statement of
Upon completion, the forms should be mailed to the RRB's headquarters in Chicago
by the 7th day of illness or injury for which benefits are claimed, at which
point the RRB reviews your application and statement of sickness to determine
eligibility. Biweekly claim forms are then mailed to you and also made
available on the RRB's website as long as you remain unable to work due to an
illness or injury and are eligible for benefits.
The claim forms must be received at the RRB within 30 days of the last day of
the claim period, or within 30 days of the date the claim form was mailed to
you, whichever is later. Benefits may be lost if an application or claim is
filed late. If an unemployment or sickness application or claim is filed late,
you should include a signed statement explaining the reason for the late filing.
As with claims for unemployment benefits, the RRB must notify your base-year
employer each time a claim for sickness benefits is filed. That employer has
the right to submit information relevant to the claim before the RRB makes its
initial determination. If your current employer is not your base-year employer,
your current employer is also notified.
In addition, the
base-year employer is notified each time benefits are paid to you.
Under the agency's Customer Service Plan, if a claimant files an application or
claim for unemployment or sickness benefits, a decision will be made within 10
days of the date the RRB receives the form. If the claimant is entitled to
benefits, benefits will generally be paid within one week of that decision.
Some claims for benefits may take longer to handle than others if they are more
complex, or if an RRB office has to get information from other people or
organizations. If you do not receive a decision notice or payment within the
specified time period, you can call the RRB toll-free at 1-877-772-5772 to
obtain your current status.
method of payment for railroad unemployment and sickness benefits is by Direct
Deposit. With Direct Deposit, payments are issued directly to a claimant's bank,
savings and loan, credit union or other financial institution. Applicants for
unemployment and sickness benefits are asked to provide information needed for
Direct Deposit enrollment.
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Free Placement Service
The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act authorizes the RRB to operate a
free placement service. The primary purpose of the placement service is to
secure new employment for experienced railroad workers who have lost their jobs.
When you apply
for unemployment benefits you also apply for employment service. You will
probably be interviewed by an RRB representative who will try to help you secure
employment if you do not have good prospects of returning to your former job.
You may be referred by the representative to a suitable railroad job; otherwise,
an effort will be made to place you in a nonrailroad job for which you appear
qualified. As part of its placement service, the RRB maintains a list of job
openings reported by railroads. The list is available for review at all offices
of the RRB and online at www.rrb.gov. The booklet
"Guide to Finding the Right
Job" (Form UB-12) is also available from any RRB field office and online.
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If you have been paid a separation allowance by your employer, you cannot
receive unemployment or sickness benefits for the period of time it would have
taken to earn the amount of the allowance.
If you leave either your railroad or nonrailroad job voluntarily without good
cause, you will be disqualified for railroad unemployment benefits until you
have returned to railroad work and earned wages sufficient to qualify for
If you leave work voluntarily with good cause, you will be disqualified for
unemployment benefits for periods in which you could receive unemployment
benefits under another law. If you are not qualified for other unemployment
benefits, you may receive railroad unemployment benefits.
If you refuse to accept suitable work, or fail to follow instructions to apply
for work or to report to a State unemployment office or an RRB office for an
interview, you may be disqualified for unemployment benefits for 30 days.
You will be disqualified for unemployment benefits for any day on which you take
part in a strike which began in violation of the Railway Labor Act or in
violation of the established rules and practices of your labor organization.
You may be
disqualified for sickness benefits if you fail to take a medical examination
when required by the RRB.
You will be
disqualified for both unemployment and sickness benefits for 75 days if you make
a false or fraudulent statement or claim to obtain benefits. You may also be
subject to a fine or imprisonment. The RRB conducts checks with Federal
agencies, all 50 States (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico),
and railroads to detect fraudulent benefit claims. The RRB also checks with
physicians to verify the accuracy of medical statements supporting sickness
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Receipt of Other Benefits
If you receive a regular retirement or survivor benefit under the Railroad
Retirement Act, Social Security Act, or any other social insurance law for days
for which you are also entitled to benefits under the Railroad Unemployment
Insurance Act, your unemployment or sickness benefits are payable only to the
extent they exceed the other payments for those days. Examples of other such
social insurance payments are military pensions, firefighter and police
pensions, or certain workers' compensation payments.
Claimants should report all such other
payments promptly to avoid having to refund benefits later.
There is no
reduction in unemployment or sickness benefits for benefits paid under an RRB-approved
nongovernmental sickness insurance plan, such as a supplemental sickness benefit
plan established by a railroad. Similarly, there is no reduction in benefits if
you receive supplemental unemployment benefits under an RRB-approved
nongovernmental unemployment benefit plan. But unemployment and sickness
benefits provided under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act are not payable
to you if you also receive Federal/State unemployment or sickness benefits under
other laws, including Canadian law, for the same period of time.
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If you receive
sickness benefits for an injury or illness for which you are paid damages, the
RRB is entitled to reimbursement of either the amount of the benefits paid for
the injury or illness, or the net amount of the settlement (after deducting your
gross medical, hospital, and legal expenses), whichever is less.
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benefits can sometimes be paid even though you are covered by a job protection
plan which guarantees you a certain amount of work or wages each month.
However, if you receive a protective allowance from your employer for a period
for which benefits were paid, some or all of the benefits will have to be
refunded. You should report such allowances promptly to the RRB.
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protest the payment of a claimant's benefits, but such protests do not prevent
the timely payment of benefits. However, employees may be required to repay
benefits if the employer's protest is ultimately successful. The employer also
has the right to appeal an unfavorable decision to the RRB's Bureau of Hearings
If you disagree
with a decision made on your claim, you have 60 days from the date of the
initial notice of the decision in which to file a written statement requesting
reconsideration from the RRB office that made the decision. This step is
mandatory before a decision may be appealed to the Bureau of Hearings and
Appeals. Failure to request reconsideration within 60 days will result in
forfeiture of further appeal rights.
If the case involves a benefit overpayment of more than 10 times the maximum
daily benefit rate, you may request a waiver of repayment. A request for waiver
filed within 60 days will, in certain cases, defer recovery of the overpayment
from subsequent benefit payments. If you request waiver, you may be asked to
complete a financial statement on a form provided by the RRB. If dissatisfied
with the reconsideration or waiver decision of an RRB office, you may, within 60
days, appeal to the RRB's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.
If not satisfied with the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals' decision, you may
further appeal, within 60 days, to the three-member Board.
satisfied with the three-member Board's decision, you may file a petition for a
review of your claim by a U.S. Court of Appeals. A petition for review must be
filed within 90 days of the notice of the Board's decision.
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Unemployment benefits paid by the RRB are subject to Federal income tax, just
like unemployment benefits paid under State government programs.
Sickness benefits paid by the RRB, except for sickness benefits resulting from
on-the-job injuries, are subject to Federal income tax under the same
limitations and conditions that apply to the taxation of sick pay received by
workers in other industries.
Unemployment Insurance Act specifically provides that railroad unemployment and
sickness benefits are not subject to State income taxes. In January of each
year, the RRB sends railroad employees Form 1099-G showing the total amount of
unemployment benefits paid during the previous year and/or a Form W-2 showing
the net amount of sickness benefits paid.
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For More Information
Unemployment and sickness claimants can conveniently check on the status of
their claims or payments at any time by calling the agency toll-free at
1-877-772-5772. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Press
"1" to access the automated HelpLine
services, and press "1" again for information on unemployment and sickness
benefits. To use this service, you will need the Personal Identification Number
(PIN) printed on the back of the claim form. (This PIN is different than the one
created to access online services via the agency's website.)
The RRB's website
at www.rrb.gov is another source of information on railroad unemployment and
sickness benefits. Employees can file their applications and claims for
unemployment benefits, and claims for sickness benefits, online. Claimants can
also access information about their individual railroad unemployment insurance
account statements. These statements display the type and amount of a
claimant's last five benefit payments, the claim period for which the payments
were made, and the dates that the payments were approved. Claimants can confirm
the RRB's receipt of their latest application or claim for unemployment or
sickness benefits, along with the receipt of any supplemental doctor's statement
required to continue the payment of sickness benefits. In addition, the service
allows claimants to view the address currently on record for them and, if
applicable, their Direct Deposit information.
This feature is
accessible through the Benefit Online Services link under the "Beneficiaries &
RR Employees" tab on the home page To use this service, claimants must get a
PIN/Password and establish an Internet Services account, as described earlier.
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If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the presentation of
information in this publication, contact:
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2092
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