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How to Apply for Disability in Railroad Retirement

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Railroad retirement plans and insurance policies differ from most other companies. The Railroad Retirement Board, backed by the Railroad Retirement Act, provides annuities to retired and disabled railroad employees, supplementing MediCare and other government programs. Rail employees who wish to apply for disability benefits must contact the board, not their employer.

Determine whether you want to apply for total disability or occupational disability. Have you become totally disabled as a result of job conditions or requirements? If medical evidence shows prevention of job performance because of the disability, you are eligible for full benefits. A condition expected to last for more than 12 months or result in death is considered permanent.

If the disability prevents you from completing your current job, but you are capable of performing other types of work, you are considered occupationally disabled.

Contact a Railroad Retirement Board representative to discuss the type of disability benefits you intend to apply for. Talking to the representative directly expedites the process.

Submit medical evidence to support your claim. Be prepared to supply dates of hospitalization, required medication and your doctor's name. You may be required to take an exam given by a Board doctor.


Do not wait to submit a railroad disability claim. If evidence is in excess of 12 months old, it may not be accepted by the Railroad Retirement Board.