What is a Railroad Retirement Disability Annuity? Find Out from the Railroad Disability Lawyers at Hermann Law Group

train on railroad with railroad disability lawyersRailroaders who become disabled are eligible for a Total or Occupational Disability Annuity, per the Railroad Retirement Act. The railroad disability lawyers at Hermann Law Group can answer any and all questions you have regarding annuities, eligibility, and benefits.

What is a Total Disability Annuity?

Railroaders with a permanent disability for all employment may be eligible for a total disability annuity. Though the annuity is payable at any age, eligible Railroaders are limited to those who have at least 10 years of creditable railroad service, and in limited cases, five to nine years of creditable railroad service after 1995.

How is Total Disability Defined?

Total disability is evidenced by the following conditions:

  • Medical evidence shows a permanent mental or physical impairment precluding holding regular employment of any kind.
  • Permanent is defined as a condition lasting continuously for at least 12 months, or resulting in death.

What Is an Occupational Disability Annuity?

Occupational Disability Annuities are payable at age 60 to eligible Railroaders with at least 10 service years and are based on the employee’s disability for regular railroad occupation. Alternatively, Railroaders of any age with at least 20 service years may be eligible for an Occupational Disability Annuity.

How is Occupational Disability Defined?

An occupational disability does not prevent the employee from holding all employment. Instead, it is evidenced by the following condition:

  • A mental or physical impairment precluding the employee from engaging in the employee’s regular railroad employment.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the Occupational Disability Annuity?

In addition to the requisite service years, eligibility for this annuity is predicated on a “current connection” with the railroad industry. The current connection typically will be met if the employee worked for the railroad for at least 12 of the 30 months immediately prior to the disability annuity start date. An employee who does not meet this test for current connection might still demonstrate a current connection if the employee has 12 service months in a prior 30 month period. Most often, this exception is invoked if the employee did not have employment outside the railroad industry immediately prior to the annuity start date.

When Might a Disabled Railroader with Requisite Service Years be Ineligible for the Occupational Disability Annuity?

Any employment, whether full or part time, outside the railroad industry in the period immediately preceding the annuity start date may disqualify an otherwise eligible employee due to the lack of current connection. Remember, current connection means that the employee must have had recent railroad employment.

Is There a Waiting Period for Disability Annuity Benefits?

While a disabled Railroader may file for the disability annuity immediately, before the first annuity payment, there is a five-month waiting period which begins the month after the month of acquiring the disability.

Will Previous Disability Annuity Benefits Affect Future Eligibility?

A Railroader who received disability annuity benefits in the past is not precluded from applying for subsequent disability annuity benefits.   However, if the prior disability annuity ended within five years of the month in which the current disability has begun, the waiting period will differ from that of a Railroader who is applying for disability annuity benefits for the first time.

Will a Criminal Conviction Affect my Eligibility for Disability Annuity Benefits?

Yes. If a Railroader has ever been convicted of a crime, or if the Railroader is or has been imprisoned, the amount of the annuity may be affected.

How Does One Apply for Disability Annuity Benefits?

Railroaders must submit sufficient medical evidence to include:

  • Hospitalization dates
  • Names of doctors
  • Prescribed medications and dosages

Additional requirements may include:

  • Undergoing physical examination by doctors chosen by the Railroad Retirement Board.
  • Disclosure of benefits being received including public disability benefits or worker’s compensation.

For more information about railroad retirement disability annuities, contact railroad disability lawyers Hermann Law Group at 877-773-3030.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]