A railroad worker, spouse, or survivor whose application for a benefit under the Railroad Retirement Act is denied, or one who is dissatisfied with the decision, has the right of appeal; that is, he or she may ask for a reconsideration of the decision. The notification letter sent to the applicant at the time of the original award or denial of the claim informs him or her of the right to appeal.
An individual has 60 days, from the date of the initial notice of a decision on his or her claim, to file a written statement requesting reconsideration from the RRB unit that denied the claim. This step is mandatory before a decision may be appealed to the RRB's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals. In cases involving overpayments, requests for waiver of recovery of the overpayment must be filed within 60 days of the date of the overpayment notice. In such cases, recovery of the overpayment will be deferred and a personal conference may be held, if requested. A request for waiver received after 60 days will be considered but will not defer collection of the overpayment, and any amount of the overpayment recovered prior to the date on which the waiver request is filed will not be subject to waiver.
An individual has 60 days from the date of the reconsideration or waiver decision to file an appeal with the RRB's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, a bureau independent of the units responsible for reconsideration decisions. The Bureau of Hearings and Appeals may, if necessary, further investigate the case and obtain reports through the RRB's field representatives, designated medical examiners, and others who may be in a position to furnish information pertinent to the appellant's claim. If the appeal involves questions of fact, the appellant has the right to request an oral hearing. If one is held, it may be conducted in the RRB office closest to the appellant's home. In some cases, videoconferencing or phone hearings are held.
If an appellant is not satisfied with the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals' decision, he or she may appeal to the three-member Board within 60 days from the date on which notice of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals' decision is mailed. The three-member Board will base its decision on the evidence before the hearings officer and ordinarily will not accept additional evidence or conduct a hearing. An appellant who is not satisfied with the Board's final decision may apply for a review of the case by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The petition for review must be filed within one year after notice of the three-member Board's decision has been mailed to the appellant.