Claiming Unemployment Benefits
Claimants can apply for unemployment benefits by mail or online.
To apply by mail, claimants must obtain an application from their labor organization, employer, local RRB office, or the RRB's website at www.rrb.gov. 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 the claimant became unemployed or the first day for which he or she wishes to claim benefits. Benefits may be lost if the application is filed late.
Claimants with RRB online accounts can apply electronically by visiting Benefit Online Services on the agency's website (www.rrb.gov). Instructions for establishing an online account are available by clicking on the link for requesting a Password Request Code (PRC) located in that same section. For security purposes, first-time users must apply for a PRC, the agency automatically mails a PRC to any employee who files a paper application for unemployment or sickness benefits. If an individual has not received a PRC, one can be requested by clicking the appropriate box on the home page. Employees are encouraged to establish online accounts while still employed so the account is ready if they ever need to apply for these benefits or use other select Internet services.
The local RRB office reviews the completed application, whether it was submitted by mail or online, and notifies the claimant's current railroad employer, and base-year employer if different. The employer has the opportunity to provide information about the benefit application.
After the RRB processes the application, biweekly claim forms are mailed to the claimant, and are also available online, as long as he or she remains unemployed and eligible for benefits. Claim forms should be signed and sent on or after the last day of the claim. This can be done by mail or electronically. 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 the claimant or made available online, whichever is later. Claimants must not file both a paper and online claim form for the same claim period(s).
Only one application need be filed during a benefit year, even if a claimant becomes unemployed more than once. However, a claimant must, in such a case, request a new claim form from an RRB office or online within 30 days of the first day for which he or she wants to resume claiming benefits. These claims may then be filed by mail or online.
Claiming Sickness Benefits
An application for sickness benefits can be obtained from railroad employers, railroad labor organizations, any RRB office, or the RRB's website at www.rrb.gov. 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 employees keep an application form on hand for use in claiming sickness benefits and that family members know where the form is kept and how to use it. If an employee becomes unable to work because of sickness or injury, the employee should complete the application and then have his or her doctor complete the statement of sickness. If the employee is too sick to complete the application, someone else may do so. In such cases, a family member should also complete form SI-10, Statement of Authority to Act for Employee, which accompanies the statement of sickness.
The forms should be completed and mailed to the RRB's headquarters in Chicago by the 7th day of illness or injury for which benefits are claimed. After the RRB receives the application and statement of sickness and determines eligibility, biweekly claim forms are mailed to the claimant for completion and return to an RRB field office for processing. Employees with RRB online accounts can complete claim forms electronically by visiting Benefit Online Services on the agency's website (www.rrb.gov). Instructions for establishing an online account are available by clicking in the link for requesting a Password Request Code (PRC) located in that same section. For security purposes, first-time users must apply for a PRC. The agency automatically mails a PRC to any employee who files a paper application for unemployment and sickness benefits. If an individual has not received a PRC, one can be requested by clicking the appropriate box on the home page.
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 the claimant or made available online, whichever is later. Benefits may be lost if an application or claim is filed late.
Claimants are reminded that while claim forms for sickness benefits can be submitted online, applications and statement of sickness must be returned to the RRB by mail.
Applicants for unemployment and sickness benefits can check with their local RRB office as to when they can expect their first payment. Customer service standards and progress reports are available in field offices and online at www.rrb.gov.
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 a decision notice or payment is not received within the specified time period, claimants can call the RRB toll-free at 1-877-772-5772 to obtain their current status.
Railroad unemployment and sickness insurance benefits are paid by Direct Deposit. With Direct Deposit, benefit payments are made electronically to an employee's bank, savings and loan, credit union, or other financial institution. New applicants for unemployment and sickness benefits will be asked to provide information needed for Direct Deposit enrollment.
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 a claimant applies for unemployment benefits, he or she also applies for employment service. The claimant will probably be interviewed by an RRB representative who will try to help secure employment if he or she does not have good prospects of returning to his or her former job. The claimant may be referred by the representative to a suitable railroad job; otherwise, an effort will be made towards placement in a nonrailroad job for which the claimant appears 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.