The RRB maintains a record of all covered railroad service and creditable earnings after 1936. The information is recorded under the employee's social security account number used by the employer to report service and compensation to the RRB.
Additional service months may be deemed in some cases where an employee does not actually work in every month of the year. For additional service months to be deemed, the employee's compensation for the year, up to the tier II maximum, must exceed an amount equal to 1/12 of the tier II maximum multiplied by the number of service months actually worked. The excess amount is then divided by 1/12 of the tier II maximum; the result, rounded up to a whole number, equals the maximum number of months that may be deemed as service months for that year. The employee must be in an employment relation (on an approved leave of absence) with a covered railroad employer, or be an employee representative, during a deemed service month. An employee may never be credited with more than 12 service months in any calendar year.
Except for benefits paid for on-the-job injuries, sickness benefits are subject to tier I railroad retirement taxes if paid within 6 months after the month in which the employee last worked. They are credited as compensation for tier I benefits, but are not credited as service months.
Military service may be credited towards retirement benefits under certain conditions. To be creditable as compensation under the Railroad Retirement Act, service in the U.S. Armed Forces must be preceded by railroad service in the same or preceding calendar year. With the exceptions noted, the employee must also have entered active military service when the United States was at war or in a state of national emergency or have served in the Armed Forces involuntarily.
The war and national emergency periods are:
- August 2, 1990 to date not yet determined.
- December 16, 1950 to September 14, 1978.
- September 8, 1939 to June 14, 1948.
If military service began during a war or national emergency period, any active duty service the employee was required to continue in beyond the end of the war or national emergency is creditable, except that voluntary service extending beyond September 14, 1978, is not creditable. Railroad workers who voluntarily served in the Armed Forces between June 15, 1948, and December 15, 1950, when there was no declared national state of emergency, can be given railroad retirement credit for their military service if they performed railroad service in the year they entered or the year before they entered military service, and if they returned to rail service in the year their military service ended or in the following year and had no intervening nonrailroad employment.
Veterans should contact the RRB well in advance of retirement regarding required proof of military service.
Each year, employees receive a Certificate of Service Months and Compensation (Form BA-6) from the RRB. This statement provides a current and cumulative record of railroad service and compensation. It includes deemed service months, separation/severance allowances, and miscellaneous compensation, such as taxable sickness payments. It also includes cumulative amounts of railroad retirement payroll taxes paid by the employee over and above social security equivalent payroll taxes and creditable military service if previously reported.
The BA-6 form should be carefully reviewed for accuracy. Employees with RRB online accounts established through the RRB's website can also view their individual records by clicking on Benefit Online Services and then selecting View Service & Compensation History.
An employee who disagrees with information on the BA-6 form should write to the RRB as soon as possible, as the law limits to 4 years the period during which corrections can be made. All letters concerning BA-6 forms must include the employee's social security number and should be addressed to:
Protest Unit - CESC
Railroad Retirement Board
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-1275
email: Protest Section