If you sustain an on-the-job injury and are unable to work, it is imperative that you know what benefits are available and how to begin the process to receive those benefits.
Upon qualifying for U.S. Railroad Retirement Board ("RRB") benefits, you can receive sickness benefits of $480 every two weeks. To qualify for benefits for the year beginning July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001, you need to have earned a minimum of $2,425 in railroad compensation in 1999, counting no more than $970 in any month. In addition, if 1999 was the first year you worked in the railroad industry, you must have at least five months of railroad employment that year.
Although there is a one-week waiting period requirement before RRB benefits are paid, a Sickness Benefits Application form can be filled out immediately after your injury. It is extremely important that the benefit form is completed correctly. It is also necessary that: 1) you have a doctor complete the medical portion of the form in order to support your claim of sickness or injury; 2) you provide your Social Security number, which then becomes your claim number; and 3) you let the RRB know if you are receiving ANY INCOME other than supplemental sickness benefits.
Further, before you answer the question, "Are you planning on filing a lawsuit in this matter?", you should first consult with Hoey & Farina, FELA Designated Legal Counsel.
You may also be eligible for additional short-term, supplemental sickness benefits. Provident Insurance Company provides one such benefit that is available to certain railroad craft employees under the national labor agreement. As an example, supplemental sickness benefits through Provident provides a scaled portion of what you would have earned if you were able to work, upwards to $1,100 a month. Without supplemental sickness benefits, a qualified railroader will receive only $960 a month from the RRB.
If you do not know whether supplemental benefits are available to you, it is important that you contact your union representative. If supplemental benefits are not available to you and your family, you should obtain information on what type of insurance coverage can be purchased for you and your family. It is important that you have supplemental sickness benefits to protect your and your family's needs in case you become sick or injured. Without adequate short-term sickness benefits or supplemental sickness benefits, you could be forced to deal with the claim agent out of financial necessity and settle your claim at a discount.
Moreover, be mindful that you could forfeit your ability to draw sickness benefits that have been negotiated for you by your railroad union because of your failure to complete an accident / injury report or by accepting a "light duty" position offered by the railroad. Keep in mind that by accepting “light duty,” the railroad is able to reduce the monetary value of your injury claim. The majority of the continued work program, light duty, interesting enough, is almost always offered only to railroaders who get hurt at work and not to those employees who are suffering from an illness or experienced an off the job injury. BE AWARE, if your treating doctor determines that you should not be at work because of your injury - you cannot be forced to accept light duty work.
You should keep both a Sickness Benefits Application form and a Supplemental Sickness Benefits form in a safe place, so if anything happens, they are readily available. Benefit forms can be obtained through your employer, your labor organization, the RRB or Hoey & Farina.
In closing, Hoey & Farina has investigators and attorneys with many years of experience assisting injured railroad workers and their families with completing benefit forms and answering questions concerning benefits.