Railroad Retirement Board: Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits




Railroad Retirement Board:
Retirement, Survivor, Disability,
Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Updated March 31, 2021
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RS22350




Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Summary
The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), an independent federal agency, administers retirement,
survivor, disability, unemployment, and sickness insurance for railroad workers and their
families. During FY2019, the RRB paid $13.0 bil ion in retirement, disability, and survivor
benefits to approximately 535,000 beneficiaries. Of those benefit payments, 61.5% was paid to
retired workers, 6.9% to disabled workers, 14.6% to spouses, and 16.2% to survivors. In the same
fiscal year, RRB paid an additional $93.4 mil ion in unemployment and sickness benefits to
approximately 23,000 claimants.
The Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) authorizes retirement, disability, and survivor benefits for
railroad workers and their families. RRA is financed primarily by payroll taxes, financial
interchanges from Social Security, and transfers from the National Railroad Retirement
Investment Trust (NRRIT). Railroad retirement payroll taxes have two tiers: the Tier I tax is
essential y the same as the Social Security payroll tax and the Tier II tax is set each year based on
the railroad retirement system’s asset balances, benefit payments, and administrative costs. In
FY2018, the gross RRA funding was about $13.4 bil ion.
Railroad retirement annuities are also divided into two tiers. Tier I annuities are designed to be
nearly equivalent to Social Security benefits and are based on both railroad retirement and Social
Security-covered employment. However, Tier I annuities are more generous than Social Security
benefits in certain situations. For example, at the age of 60, railroad workers with at least 30 years
of covered railroad work may receive unreduced retirement annuities. Tier II annuities are similar
to private pensions and based solely on covered railroad service. Tier II annuities are paid in
addition to Tier I annuities.
Railroad disability annuities may be payable to total y disabled railroad workers who are
permanently disabled from al work and occupational disabled workers who are found to be
permanently disabled from their regular railroad occupations. Eligible spouses and survivors of
railroad workers may receive a certain portion of Tier I and Tier II benefits, but divorced spouses
and surviving divorced spouses are eligible for only a certain portion of Tier I benefits.
The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) authorizes unemployment and sickness
benefits for railroad workers. RUIA is financed solely by railroad employers, whose contributions
are based on the taxable earnings of their employees. Eligibility for railroad unemployment and
sickness benefits is based on recent railroad service and earnings. The maximum daily
unemployment and sickness benefit payable in the benefit year that began July 1, 2020, is $80,
and the maximum benefit for a biweekly claim is $800. Normal benefits are paid for up to 26
weeks in a benefit year. Employees with at least 10 years of covered railroad service may qualify
for extended unemployment or sickness benefits for 13 weeks after they have exhausted normal
benefits. Qualified unemployed railroad workers can receive temporary recovery benefit
payments and additional extended benefits for limited time periods as authorized under the
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) on March 27,
2020, and as amended by the Continued Assistance to Rail Workers Act of 2020 (CARWA;
Division N, Title II, Subtitle A, Subchapter III, of P.L. 116-260) on December 27, 2020 and the
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA; P.L. 117-2) on March 11, 2021.
Congressional Research Service

link to page 4 link to page 5 link to page 6 link to page 8 link to page 8 link to page 9 link to page 9 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 11 link to page 13 link to page 14 link to page 15 link to page 5 link to page 6 link to page 6 link to page 14 link to page 13 link to page 16 link to page 17 link to page 18 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Railroad Retirement, Survivor, and Disability Benefits ......................................................... 2
Financing ................................................................................................................. 3
Eligibility and Types of Benefits .................................................................................. 5
Tier I Retirement Annuities .................................................................................... 5
Tier II Retirement Annuities ................................................................................... 6
Other Retired Worker Benefits: Supplemental Annuities and Vested Dual Benefits ......... 6

Disability Annuities .............................................................................................. 7
Spouse Annuities.................................................................................................. 7
Survivor Annuities................................................................................................ 8
Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits ................................................................. 10
Financing ............................................................................................................... 11
Eligibility and Benefits ............................................................................................. 12

Figures
Figure 1. Number of RRA Beneficiaries and Average Monthly Benefits, 2001-2020 .................. 2
Figure 2. Financial Sources for Railroad Retirement, Disability and Survivor Program,
FY2019 ...................................................................................................................... 3
Figure 3. Number of RUIA Beneficiaries, January 2002- January 2021 ................................. 11

Tables
Table 1. Railroad Retirement, Survivor, and Disability Annuities, September 2020.................. 10
Table 2. Unemployment and Sickness Benefits and Sequestration......................................... 13
Table 3. Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits, September 2020 ............................. 14

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 15


Congressional Research Service

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Introduction
The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB),1 an independent federal agency, administers retirement,
survivor, disability, unemployment, and sickness insurance for railroad workers and their families
under the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
(RUIA).2 These acts cover workers who are employed by railroads engaged in interstate
commerce and related subsidiaries, railroad associations, and railroad labor organizations.
Lifelong railroad workers receive railroad retirement benefits instead of Social Security benefits;
railroad workers with non-railroad experience receive benefits either from railroad retirement or
Social Security, depending on the length of their railroad service.
The number of railroad workers has been declining since the 1950s, although the rate of dec line
has been irregular and have seen relative increases in railroad employment between 2010 and
2015. Recently, after reaching a relative nadir of 215,000 workers in January 2010, railroad
employment peaked in April 2015 to 253,000 workers, the highest level since November 1999,
and then general y declined through March 2020, fal ing to 205,000 workers.3 The ongoing
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic-related recession resulted in a further decline
in railroad employment. By February 2021, the number of railroad workers declined to 189,000.4
During FY2019, the RRB paid nearly $13.0 bil ion in retirement, disability, and survivor benefits
to approximately 535,000 beneficiaries.5 The total number of RRA beneficiaries has been
declining since 2001, and the trend appears to have continued in 2020.6 Approximately $93.4
mil ion in unemployment and sickness benefits were paid to approximately 23,000 claimants in
FY2019.7 Although the number of sickness beneficiaries stayed relatively stable over time, the
number of unemployed insurance beneficiaries increased significantly during and after the Great
Recession from 2007 to 2009, as wel as during the ongoing COVID-19-related recession starting
in February 2020.8

1 T he Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) consists of three members appointed by the President with the advice and
consent of the Senate to staggered five-year terms. One member is appointed on the recommendation of the railroad
industry, one on the recommendation of railroad labor, and the chair is appointed to represent the public.
2 T he RRB also administers aspects of the Medicare program and has administrative responsibilities under the Social
Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code.
3 RRB, 2020 Annual Report, p. 33, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-10/2020_ANNUAL_REPORT .pdf;
and RRB, Average Railroad Em ploym ent (In Thousands) January 2019-November 2020, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/
default/files/2020-12/avgemp_0.pdf.
4 RRB, Average Railroad Employment (In Thousands) January 2020-February 2021, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/
default/files/2021-03/avgemp.pdf.
5 Retirement, disability, and survivor benefits include age, disability, and supplemental annuities paid to employees, as
well as annuities paid to spouses, divorced spouses, and survivors. RRB, 2020 Annual Report, pp. 1-2, at
https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-10/2020_ANNUAL_REPORT .pdf.
6 RRB, Bureau of the Actuary, Benefits and Beneficiaries, January 2001 to July 2020, T able 1.
7 In FY2019, gross unemployment and sickness benefits totaled about $116.1 million. Net benefits to unemployment
and sickness claims totaled approximately $93.4 million after adjustment for recoveries of benefit payments, including
injury settlements, some of which were made in prio r years. RRB, 2020 Annual Report, p. 2, at https://www.rrb.gov/
sites/default/files/2020-10/2020_ANNUAL_REPORT .pdf.
8 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions,
https://www.nber.org/cycles.html; RRB, Bureau of the Actuary, Benefits and Beneficiaries, January 2002 to June 2020,
T able 2; and RRB, Selected National and Rational Data, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/
selectdt_0.pdf.
Congressional Research Service
1

link to page 5
Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

This report explains the programs under RRA and RUIA, including how each program is
financed, the eligibility rules, and the types of benefits available to railroad workers and family
members. It also discusses how railroad retirement relates to the Social Security system. For a
quick overview of this topic, see CRS In Focus IF10481, Railroad Retirement Board: Retirement,
Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits.
Railroad Retirement, Survivor, and
Disability Benefits
The RRA authorizes retirement, survivor, and disability benefits for railroad workers and their
families.9 In July 2020, there were a total of 509,200 RRA beneficiaries, decreasing from 672,400
in 2001. This 24% decline in beneficiaries results in part from the decline in railroad employment
in the past five decades.10 The average monthly benefit for each beneficiary was about $2,155 in
June 2020, which increased from $1,043 in January 2001, reflecting the growth in average wages
and prices (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Number of RRA Beneficiaries and Average Monthly Benefits, 2001-2020

Source: Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of the Actuary, Benefits and Beneficiaries, January 2001 to July
2020, Table 1. Data are general y recorded at the end of each calendar year, except 2001 data are for January
and 2020 data are for July.
Notes: The number of beneficiaries is beneficiaries in current-payment status at the end of each year. Average
monthly benefits are estimated based on the number of beneficiaries and total amount of benefit payments in
each month. Average monthly benefits are in nominal dol ars.

9 45 U.S.C. §§231 et seq.
10 T he railroads employed 617,000 workers in 1970, declined to 22 0,000 in 1997, and remained below 253,000
afterward. See https://www.railserve.com/employment.html.
Congressional Research Service
2

link to page 6
Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Financing
The railroad retirement, disability, and survivor program is mainly financed by payroll taxes,
financial interchanges from Social Security, and transfers from the National Railroad Retirement
Investment Trust (NRRIT) (see Figure 2), al of which accounted for 94.0% of the $13.4 bil ion
gross funding of the RRA program during FY2019. The remaining 6.0% of the program was
financed by federal income taxes levied on railroad retirement benefits,11 interest on investment
and other revenue, and general appropriations to pay the costs of phasing out vested dual benefits.
Figure 2. Financial Sources for Railroad Retirement, Disability and Survivor
Program, FY2019
(Dol ar amounts are in mil ions)

Source: Railroad Retirement Board, 2020 Annual Report, p. 8, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-10/
2020_ANNUAL_REPORT.pdf.
Notes: Gross funding was $13.4 bil ion in FY2019. Components may not add to total due to rounding.
Payroll taxes, which provided 45.5% of gross RRA funding in FY2019, are the largest funding
source for railroad retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.12 Railroad retirement payroll taxes
are divided into two tiers—Tier I and Tier II taxes. The Tier I tax is the same as the Social
Security payroll tax: railroad employers and employees each pay 6.2% on earnings up to

11 Regular railroad retirement annuities consisting of T ier I, T ier II, and vested dual benefit components have been
subject to U.S. federal income tax since 1984. Supplemental annuities have been subject to federal income tax since
1966. T he portion of the Tier I component of railroad retirement annuity that is equivalent to Social Security benefits i s
treated the same as a Social Security benefit for federal income tax purpose. T he non -Social Security equivalent benefit
of the T ier I benefit, T ier II benefits, vested dual benefits, and supplemental annuity payments are treated like
contributory pensions for federal income tax purposes. Only the amount of the contributory pension that exceeds the
amount of contributions made by the wage earner is taxable. Railroad retirement annuities are not taxable by states in
accordance with Section 14 of the Railroad Retirement Act (45 U.S.C. §231m). For more information, see “ T ax
Withholding and Railroad Retirement Payments,” at https://www.rrb.gov/Benefits/IncomeT ax/T XB-25.
12 Gross RRA funding does not include funding sources offset by reductions in National Railroad Retirement
Investment T rust (NRRIT ) assets, salaries, and expenses for the RRB Office of the Inspector General, and reductions in
contingency liability and unexpended appropriations.
Congressional Research Service
3

link to page 9 link to page 9 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

$142,800 in 2021.13 The Tier II tax is set each year based on the railroad retirement system’s asset
balances, benefit payments, and administrative costs.14 In 2021, the Tier II tax is 13.1% for
employers and 4.9% for employees on earnings up to $106,200. Tier II taxes are used to finance
Tier II benefits, the portion of Tier I benefits in excess of Social Security retirement benefits (such
as unreduced early retirement benefits for railroad employees with at least 30 years of railroad
service), and supplemental annuities.15
Tier I payroll taxes are deposited in the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Account (SSEBA),
which pays the Social Security level of benefits and administrative expenses al ocable to those
benefits. The SSEBA also receives or pays the financial interchange transfers between the
railroad retirement and Social Security systems. The financial interchange with Social Security
provided 35.2% of gross RRA funding in FY2019. The purpose of the financial interchange is to
place the Social Security trust funds in the same position they would have been in, if railroad
employment had been covered under Social Security since that program’s inception.16
Tier II tax revenues that are not needed to pay current benefits or associated administrative costs
are held in the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust (NRRIT), which is invested in both
government securities and private equities.17 NRRIT transfers provide another revenue source for
railroad benefits, and they were 13.4% of gross RRA funding in FY2019. Prior to the Railroad
Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-90), surplus railroad retirement
assets could only be invested in U.S. government securities—just as the Social Security trust
funds must be invested in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government. The 2001 act
established the NRRIT to manage and invest the assets in the Railroad Retirement Account in the
same way that the assets of private-sector and most state and local government pension plans are
invested. The remainder of the railroad retirement system’s assets, such as assets in SSEBA,
continues to be invested solely in U.S. government-issued or -granted securities.
The combined fair market value of Tier II taxes and NRRIT assets is designed to maintain four to
six years’ worth of RRB benefits and administrative expenses. To maintain this balance, the
Railroad Retirement Tier II tax rates automatical y adjust as needed. This tax adjustment does not
require congressional action, according to Section 204 of the 2001 act.

13 P.L. 111-312. During 2011 and 2012, Congress provided a temporary reduction of two percentage points in the
Social Security payroll tax rate paid by employees, from 6.2% to 4.2%.
14 Under the Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 ( P.L. 107-90), Tier II taxes on both
employers and employees are automatically adjusted according to the average account benefits ratio. T he average
account benefits ratio (ABR) is the average of the 10 most recent annual ABRs. T he ABR is the ratio of the combined
fair market value of Railroad Retirement Account (T ier II tax revenues) and NRRIT asse ts as of the close of the fiscal
year to the total RRB benefits and administrative expenses paid from the Railroad Retirement Account and the NRRIT
in that fiscal year. A higher average ABR will result in a lower T ier II tax rate and consequently lower fut ure tax
income, whereas a lower average ABR result in higher T ier II tax rates and income. For more information, see CRS
Report RS22782, Railroad Retirem ent Board: Trust Fund Investm ent Practices.
15 For information about supplemental annuities, see “ Other Retired Worker Benefits: Supplemental Annuities and
Vested Dual Benefits.”

16 T he railroad retirement system and the Social Security system have been coordinated financially since 1951 (P.L. 82-
234). T he financial interchange involves computing the amount of Social Security taxes that would have been collected
on railroad employment, and computing the amount of additional benefits that Social Security would have paid to
railroad retirement beneficiaries during the same fiscal year. When benefit reimbursements exceed payroll taxes, the
difference, with an allowance for interest and administrative expenses, is transferred from the Social Security trust
funds to the Social Security Equivalent Benefits Account. If taxes exceed benefit reimbursements (this has not
happened since 1951), a transfer would be made in favor of the Social Security trust funds.
17 For additional information on the NRRIT , see CRS Report RS22782, Railroad Retirement Board: Trust Fund
Investm ent Practices
.
Congressional Research Service
4

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Eligibility and Types of Benefits
To be insured for railroad benefits, a worker must general y have at least 10 years of covered
railroad work or five years performed after 1995 and “insured status” under Social Security rules
(general y 40 earnings credits)18 based on combined railroad retirement and Social Security-
covered earnings. An insured railroad worker’s family may be entitled to receive railroad
retirement benefits. If a worker does not qualify for railroad retirement benefits, his or her
railroad work counts toward Social Security benefits. Of the total $13.0 bil ion benefit payments
during FY2019, 61.7% (or $8.0 bil ion) were paid in retirement annuities to retired workers, 6.8%
(or $0.9 bil ion) in disability annuities, 14.6% (or $1.9 bil ion) in spouse annuities, and 16.4% (or
$2.1 bil ion) in survivor annuities.19
Tier I Retirement Annuities
Tier I annuities are designed to be nearly equivalent to Social Security Old Age, Survivors, and
Disability Insurance benefits. Tier I annuities are calculated using the Social Security benefit
formula and are based on both railroad retirement and Social Security-covered employment.20
However, Tier I annuities are more generous than Social Security benefits in certain situations.
For example, at the age of 60, railroad workers with at least 30 years of covered railroad work
may receive unreduced retirement annuities.21 At the full retirement age (FRA), which is
gradual y increasing from 65 to 67 for Social Security and railroad retirement beneficiaries,
insured workers with fewer than 30 years of service may receive full retirement annuities.22
Alternatively, workers with fewer than 30 years of service may, starting at the age of 62, receive
annuities that have been reduced actuarial y for the additional years the worker is expected to
spend in retirement. Tier I benefit reductions for early retirement are similar to those in the Social
Security system. As the FRA rises, so wil the reduction for early retirement.23 If a railroad
employee delays retirement past FRA, Tier I annuities are increased by a certain percentage for
each month up until the age of 70, which is identical to the benefit increase provided by Delayed
Retirement Credits under the Social Security system.24
In general, Social Security benefits are subtracted from Tier I annuities, because work covered by
Social Security is counted toward Tier I annuities. Beneficiaries insured by both systems receive a
single check from the RRB. Railroad retirement annuities may also be reduced for certain
pensions earned through federal, state, and local government work that is not covered by Social

18 A worker may earn up to four earnings credits per calendar year. In 2021, a worker earns one credit for each $1,470
of covered earnings, up to a maximum of four credits for covered earnings of $5, 880 or more. Earnings credits are also
called quarters of coverage. T his amount increases each year to account for wage growth. For additional information,
see CRS Report R43542, How Social Security Benefits Are Com puted: In Brief.
19 Less than 1% of the total railroad retirement, disability, and survivor benefits were paid for supplement al annuities
and lump-sum death benefits. See RRB, 2020 Annual Report, p. 15.
20 For additional information on the Social Security benefit formula, see CRS Report R43542, How Social Security
Benefits Are Com puted: In Brief
.
21 Early retirement reductions are applied in the T ier I annuity of 30 -year employees who first became eligible for the
annuity on July 1, 1984, or later and retired at the age of 60 or 61 before 2002.
22 Full retirement age (FRA) is rising from 65 for those born before 1938 to 67 for those born after 1959. For additional
information on the FRA, see CRS Report R44670, The Social Security Retirem ent Age.
23 T he reduction at the age of 62, Social Security’s earliest eligibility age, is rising from 20% to 30% as the FRA rises
from age 65 to age 67.
24 For additional information on the Social Security benefit formula, see CRS Report R43542, How Social Security
Benefits Are Com puted: In Brief
.
Congressional Research Service
5

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Security.25 For early retirees who continue to work for a non-railroad employer while receiving
the retirement benefit during the year prior to FRA, Tier I benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2
earned above an exempt amount ($18,960 in 2021).26 After Tier I benefits are first paid, they
increase annual y with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the same manner as Social Security
benefits.27
Retirement annuities are not payable to workers who continue to work in a covered railroad job or
who return to railroad work after retirement.
Tier II Retirement Annuities
Tier II retirement annuities are paid in addition to Tier I annuities and any private pension and
retirement saving plans offered by railroad employers. They are similar to private pensions and
based solely on covered railroad service. Tier II annuities for current retirees are equal to seven-
tenths of 1% of the employee’s average monthly earnings in the 60 months of highest earnings,
times the total number of years of railroad service.28 Tier II annuities are increased annual y by
32.5% of the Social Security COLA.
Tier II annuities are not (in contrast to Tier I annuities) reduced if a worker receives Social
Security benefits or a government pension that was not covered by Social Security. For railroad
retirees and spouses who work for their last pre-retirement non-railroad employer while receiving
retirement benefits,29 Tier II annuities are reduced by $1 for every $2 earned, capped at 50% of
the Tier II annuity. There is no cap to the earnings-related reduction in railroad Tier I or Social
Security benefits. In addition, the earnings-related reduction applies to al Tier II beneficiaries
regardless of age, whereas for railroad Tier I and Social Security benefits, the earnings-related
reduction applies only until the beneficiary reaches FRA.
Other Retired Worker Benefits: Supplemental Annuities and
Vested Dual Benefits

Tier II payroll taxes also finance a supplemental annuity program. Supplemental annuities are
payable to employees first hired before October 1981, aged 60 with at least 30 years of covered
railroad service or aged 65 and older with at least 25 years of covered railroad service, and a
current connection with the railroad industry.30

25 For additional information, see CRS In Focus IF10203, Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
and the Governm ent Pension Offset (GPO)
.
26 If the employee or spouse has a T ier I reduction for Social Security benefits, the T ier I annuity is not reduced for
excess earnings. During the calendar year that a retiree will reach the FRA, the formula for calculating the early
retirement reduction changes: benefits are reduced $1 for every $3 earned above an exempt amount ($50,520 in 2021)
until the beneficiary reaches FRA. Earnings while a T ier I annuitant may be used to recompute a beneficiary’s annuity,
which may result in the beneficiary receiving a higher annuity after FRA due to these earnings. For additional
information on the increase in Social Security benefits at FRA to account for benefits lost due to earnings, see CRS
Report R41242, Social Security Retirem ent Earnings Test: How Earnings Affect Benefits.
27 For additional information on the Social Security COLA, see CRS Report 94-803, Social Security: Cost-of-Living
Adjustm ents
.
28 T he formula for the gross T ier II amount is 0.007 × (total earnings in the 60 months of highest earnings ÷ 60) ×
Years of service. If the highest earnings in the 60 months are greater than the T ier II taxable maximum base, then the
formula use the T ier II taxable maximum base instead.
29 Work that begins on the same day as the annuity beginning date is not last pre-retirement non-railroad employment.
30 Workers have a current connection with the railroad industry if they worked in a covered railroad job for at least 12
months of the 30 months before death or receipt of a railroad annuity. T he current connection is not broken during
Congressional Research Service
6

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

In addition, general revenues finance a vested dual benefit for those who were insured for both
railroad retirement and Social Security in 1974 when the two-tier railroad retirement benefit
structure was established.31 Neither supplemental annuities nor vested dual benefits are adjusted
for changes in the cost of living during retirement. Supplemental annuities are subject to the same
earnings reductions as Tier II benefits; vested dual benefits are subject to the same earnings
reductions as Tier I benefits.
Disability Annuities
Railroad workers may be eligible for disability annuities if they become disabled regardless of
whether the disability is caused by railroad work. The RRB determines whether a worker is
disabled based on the medical evidence provided during the application process. Railroad
workers found to be total y and permanently disabled from all work may be eligible for Tier I
benefits at any age if the worker has at least 10 years of railroad service.32 Total y disabled
workers may also receive Tier II benefits at the age of 62 if they have 10 or more years of service.
Occupational disability annuities are also payable to workers found to be permanently disabled
from their regular railroad occupations, if the worker is at least 60 years old with 10 years of
service (or any age with 20 years of service), and with a current connection to the railroad
industry. A five-month waiting period after the onset of disability is required before any disability
annuity can be payable.
Disability annuities are not payable if a worker is currently employed in a covered railroad job.
Disability benefits are suspended if a beneficiary earns more than a certain amount after
deducting certain disability-related work expenses.33 The Tier I portion of disability benefits may
be reduced for the receipt of workers compensation or government disability benefits.
Spouse Annuities
In any month that a worker collects a railroad retirement or disability annuity, his or her spouse
may also be eligible for a spousal annuity equal to or greater than the benefit he or she would
have received if the worker’s railroad work had been covered by Social Security. A spouse is
eligible for a spousal annuity when he or she reaches the same minimum age required for the
worker (i.e., either at the age of 60 or 62, depending on years of the worker’s service). At any age,
a spouse may be eligible for a spousal annuity if he or she cares for the worker’s unmarried child
under the age of 18 (or a child of any age that was disabled before the age of 22). An individual
must have been married to the railroad worker for at least one year before he or she applies for
the spousal annuities, with certain exceptions. A qualifying spouse receives 50% of the worker’s
Tier I benefit before any reductions (or, if higher, a Social Security benefit based on his or her

employment at certain U.S. government agencies or in other special circumstances.
31 T he payment of vested dual benefits depends on the time and amount of such appropriations. If the appropriation in a
fiscal year is for less than the estimated total vested dual benefit payments, individual payments will be reduced.
32 Employees with five years to nine years of covered railroad serv ice, if at least five years were performed after 1995,
may qualify for T ier I benefits before retirement age only if they also meet certain Social Security earnings
requirements. For information on Social Security disability insurance, see CRS In Focus IF10506, Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI)
.
33 T he earnings threshold is $1,020 per month in 2021 and is indexed to average national wage growth. Disability work
restrictions cease when a disabled employee attains full retirement age, when disability annuities convert to retirement
annuities. T his transition is effective on earlier than FRA if the annuitant had 30 years of railroad service.
Congressional Research Service
7

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

own earnings). Spouses may also receive 45% of the worker’s Tier II benefit before any
reductions.
Divorced spouses of retired or disabled railroad workers may also be eligible for spousal
annuities. A divorced spouse may receive 50% of the worker’s Tier I benefit before reductions,
but no Tier II benefits. To qualify, the former spouse must have been married to the worker for at
least 10 years and must not currently be married (remarriages if any must have terminated); both
the worker and former spouse must be at least 62 years old.34
For spouses, as for railroad workers, Social Security benefits are subtracted from Tier I annuities.
The Tier I portion of a spouse annuity may also be reduced for receipt of any pension from
government employment not covered by Social Security based on the spouse’s own earnings.35
Spouses are subject to reductions based on the primary worker’s earnings as wel as on their own
earnings. For example, for early retirement, spouses are subject to different benefit reductions
from workers.36 Final y, spouse annuities are reduced by the amount of any railroad benefits
earned based on their own work.
Survivor Annuities
After the worker’s death, surviving spouses, former spouses, children, and other dependents may
be eligible to receive survivor annuities, which are paid in addition to any private life insurance
offered by railroad employers. To be insured for survivor annuities, the worker must have had a
current connection with the railroad industry at the time of death. Railroad survivor annuities are
general y higher than comparable Social Security benefits because railroad workers’ families may
be entitled to Tier II annuities as wel as Tier I annuities (as noted above, Tier I annuities are
equivalent to Social Security benefits). In cases where no monthly survivor annuities are paid, a
lump-sum payment may be made to certain survivors.37
The widows and widowers of railroad workers may be eligible to receive survivor annuities. At
FRA, a surviving spouse may be eligible for 100% of the worker’s Tier I annuity (or his or her
own Social Security or railroad retirement Tier I benefit, if higher). The widow(er) may also
receive up to 100% of the worker’s Tier II annuity. As early as the age of 60 (or age 50, if
disabled), widows and widowers may receive reduced survivor annuities.38 A qualifying

34 A divorced spouse can receive an annuity even if the employee has not retired, provided they have been divorced for
a period of not less than two years, the employee and former spouse are at least age 62, and the employee is fully
insured under the Social Security Act using combined railroad and Social Security earnings. A spouse is eligible for an
annuity at any age if caring for the employee’s unmarried child, who is under age 18 or disabled at any age if the child
became disabled before age 22. However, a divorced spouse is not eligible for an annuity on such basis unless the
employee is deceased.
35 For spouses subject to the public pension reduction, the T ier I benefit is reduced by two -thirds of the amount of the
public pension. For more information, see CRS Report RL32453, Social Security: The Governm ent Pension Offset
(GPO)
.
36 For spouses, the reduction at the age of 62 is gradually rising from 25% to 35% as the FRA increases from age 65 to
67, whereas for workers, the reduction is rising from 20% to 30%.
37 A lump-sum death payment is made in cases in which the worker had at least 10 years of railroad service or, if less
than 10 years, had at least five years of service after 1995 and a current con nection to the railroad industry and there is
no person eligible for monthly survivors benefits either because there are no eligible survivors or the widow(er) has not
reached the minimum age for benefits. T he lump -sum death payment is limited to $255 if t he employee did not have
120 months of service in the railroad industry before 1975.
38 For widow(er)s, the reduction at the age of 60 (Social Security’s earliest eligibility age for widowed spouses) is
rising from 17.10% to 20.36% as the FRA increases from 65 to 67. For a disabled widow(er), the maximum reduction
is 28.5%, even if the annuity begins at age 50.
Congressional Research Service
8

link to page 13 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

widow(er) must have been married to the deceased railroad worker for at least nine months, with
certain exceptions.39 At any age, a widow(er) caring for a deceased worker’s child under the age
of 18 may receive a survivor annuity equal to 75% of the worker’s Tier I annuity, as wel as up to
100% of the worker’s Tier II annuity. Widow(er)s who are the natural or adoptive parent of the
deceased worker’s child do not have to meet the length of marriage requirement.
Survivor annuities may also be payable to a surviving divorced spouse or remarried widow(er).
To qualify for benefits, a surviving divorced spouse has to be married to the employee for at least
10 years and is unmarried or remarried after age 60 (age 50 for disabled surviving divorced
spouse).40 A surviving divorced spouse who is unmarried can qualify for benefits at any age if
caring for the employee’s child who is under age 16 or disabled.41 Benefits are limited to the
amounts Social Security would pay (Tier I only) and therefore are less than the amount of the
survivor annuity otherwise payable.
Railroad workers’ children may also receive survivor annuities. To qualify, a child must be
unmarried and under the age of 18 (or 19 if stil in high school). Disabled adult children may
qualify if their disability began before the age of 22. Eligible children receive 75% of the
worker’s Tier I annuity and 15% of the worker’s Tier II annuity.42 In addition, if a worker’s parent
was dependent on the worker for at least half of the parent’s support, he or she may receive
82.5% of the worker’s Tier I annuity and 35% of the worker’s Tier II annuity after reaching age
60.
Survivor annuities are not payable to a current railroad employee, and survivor annuities are
reduced by any railroad retirement benefit the survivor has earned through his or her own railroad
work. Survivors receive the same reductions as retired workers for Social Security benefit receipt;
they also have reductions from government pension receipts that are not covered by Social
Security.43 A family maximum applies to survivor benefits, usual y applicable when three or more
survivors receive benefits on a worker’s record (not counting divorced spouses).44
Below, Table 1 provides data on railroad retirement, survivor, and disability annuities as of
September 2020.

39 Exceptions are provided in some cases such as accidental death or death in the line of duty.
40 For a surviving divorced spouse or remarried widow(er), the maximum age reduction is 28.5%, which is the same as
the maximum reduction for a disabled remarried widow(er) or disabled surviving divorced spouse even if the annuity
begins at age 50.
41 T he 10-year marriage requirement does not apply to surviving divorced spouse with child in care.
42 Social Security provides children’s benefits when a railroad worker is totally disabled, retired, or deceased. T he
Railroad Retirement Act only provides children’s benefits if the employee is deceased. However, under a special
minimum guaranty provision, railroad families will not receive less in monthly benefits than they would have if
railroad earnings were covered by Social Security. T herefore, if a retired railroad worker has children who would
otherwise be eligible for a benefit under Social Security, the worker’s retirement annuity would be increased to reflect
what Social Security would pay for the family.
43 For survivors subject to the public pension reduction, the T ier I benefit is reduced by two -thirds of the amount of the
public pension. For more information, see CRS Report RL32453, Social Security: The Governm ent Pension Offset
(GPO)
.
44 Social Security Administration, “Formula for Family Maximum Benefit ,” see https://www.ssa.gov/OACT /COLA/
familymax.html.
Congressional Research Service
9

link to page 13 link to page 13 link to page 14 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Table 1. Railroad Retirement, Survivor, and Disability Annuities, September 2020
Number of
Percentage of Total
Average Monthly
Type of Annuity
Benefitsa
Benefits
Benefit ($)
Age-Based
186,357
29.92%
$2,984.53
Disability -Under Ful Retirement
Age (FRA)
49,278
7.91%
$2,625.20
Disability -At or Above FRA
19,996
3.21%
$2,871.45
Supplemental
114,444
18.37%
$41.51
Spouse
142,197
22.83%
$1,101.97
Divorced Spouse
5,215
0.84%
$705.40
Aged Widow(er)
79,406
12.75%
$1,839.76
Disabled Widow(er)
3,176
0.51%
$1,437.37
Widowed Mother and Father
570
0.09%
$1,992.02
Remarried Widow(er)
2,566
0.41%
$1,191.71
Divorced Widow(er)
9,746
1.56%
$1,202.93
Children
7,726
1.24%
$1,194.61
Partition Paymentsb
2,240
0.36%
$323.57
Total Benefits
622,917c
100.00%
$1,741.20d
Source: Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of the Actuary, Quarterly Benefit Statistics, July-September 2020,
Table 1, https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/stat_qbs0920.pdf.
Notes: Components may not add to total due to rounding.
a. Total number of benefits paid includes multiple benefits paid to individual beneficiaries. Benefits were paid
to 499,222 beneficiaries.
b. The court-ordered partitioned portion of the Tier II, vested dual and supplemental benefit payments can be
made to spouses and divorced spouses when the railroad worker is deceased or not otherwise entitled to
an annuity.
c. The total number of benefits does not include the number of dependent parents’ annuities, which was 15 in
current payment status.
d. Estimated based on total number and amount of benefits.
Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits
Railroad workers may qualify for daily unemployment and sickness benefits under the Railroad
Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA).45 These monetary benefits are paid in addition to any paid
leave or private insurance an employee may have. For sickness benefits, a worker must be unable
to work because of il ness or injury. Sickness benefits are distinct from disability benefits because
they are intended to cover a finite, temporary period of time. Workers may not earn any money
while receiving unemployment or sickness benefits.
Figure 3 displays the monthly number of beneficiaries with unemployment and sickness benefits
from January 2002 to January 2021, respectively.46 Although the number of sickness beneficiaries

45 45 U.S.C. §§351-369.
46 T he number of railroad unemployment insurance beneficiaries in May and November 2020 include those paid under
the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; enacted under P.L. 116-136 on March 27,
Congressional Research Service
10


Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

stayed relatively stable over time, the number of unemployment insurance beneficiaries increased
significantly during and after the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, as wel as during the
ongoing COVID-19-related recession starting in February 2020.47 During the Great Recession,
the ratio of railroad unemployment beneficiaries to total railroad workers peaked in June 2009 at
6.1%. In the current recession, the ratio of railroad unemployment beneficiaries to total railroad
workers increased from 2.7% in February 2020 to 8.3% in June and then decreased to about 4.9%
in January 2021.
Figure 3. Number of RUIA Beneficiaries, January 2002- January 2021

Source: Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of the Actuary, Benefits and Beneficiaries, January 2002 to
November 2020, Table 2, https://www.rrb.gov/FinancialReporting/FinancialActuarialStatistical/MonthlyQuarterly/
HistoricalData. The number of railroad unemployment insurance beneficiaries in May to November 2020 include
those paid under temporary benefits created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES
Act; enacted under P.L. 116-136 on March 27, 2020). The RRB started making the payments under the CARES
Act on the evening of May 28, 2020, including retroactive payments to individuals who had previously filed claims
beginning on or after April 1, 2020. See RRB, “RRB Begins Paying CARES Act Recovery Payments for
Unemployed Rail Workers,” at https://www.rrb.gov/Newsroom/NewsRelea ses/R ecoveryPayments. Data for
December 2020 and January 2021 reflect the numbers of unemployment railroad workers, available at RRB,
Selected National and Rational Data, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/selectdt.pdf. A smal number
of unemployed railroad workers may not qualify for railroad unemployment insurance benefits due to eligibility
requirements.
Financing
Railroad unemployment and sickness benefits are financed solely by railroad employers’ payroll
taxes, based on the taxable earnings of their employees. Employers’ tax rates depend on the past

2020). T he RRB started making the payments under the CARES Act on the evening of May 28, 2020, including
retroactive payments to individuals who had previously filed claims beginning on or after April 1 , 2020. See RRB,
“RRB Begins Paying CARES Act Recovery Payments for Unemployed Rail Workers,” at https://www.rrb.gov/
Newsroom/NewsReleases/RecoveryPayments. Data for December 2020 and January 2021 reflect the numbers of
unemployment railroad workers, available at RRB, Selected National and Rational Data, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/
default/files/2021-02/selectdt.pdf. A small number of unemployed railroad workers may not qualify for railroad
unemployment insurance benefits due to eligibility requirements.
47 NBER, US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions.
Congressional Research Service
11

link to page 16 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

rates of unemployment and employees’ sickness claims. For calendar year 2021, the employer tax
rate ranges from 3.15% to 12.00% on the first $1,710 of each employee’s monthly earnings.
The payroll tax proceeds not needed immediately for unemployment and sickness insurance
benefits or operating expenses are deposited in the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Account
maintained by the Treasury. This account, together with similar unemployment insurance
accounts for each state, forms a Federal Unemployment Trust Fund whose deposits are invested
in U.S. government securities, and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Account receives
interest based on these deposits. During FY2019, payroll tax contributions from railroad
employers totaled $131.4 mil ion.48
The RUIA provides for employers to pay a surcharge if the Railroad Unemployment Insurance
Account fal s below an indexed threshold amount.49 The surcharge is added to the employer’s tax
rate. However, the total tax rate plus the surcharge cannot exceed the maximum rate of 12.0%,
unless the surcharge is 3.5%, in which case the maximum tax rate is increased to 12.5%. From
2004 through 2010, the surcharge was 1.5%. The surcharge in 2011 was 2.5% and 1.5% in 2012
with no surcharges in 2013 or 2014. There was no surcharge in 2020 following five consecutive
years of a 1.5% surcharge. The accrual balance of the RUIA was $53.7 mil ion on June 30, 2020.
This was below the indexed threshold of $73.7 mil ion, triggering a 2.5% surcharge in 2021.50
Eligibility and Benefits
Eligibility for railroad unemployment and sickness benefits is based on recent railroad service
and earnings. The annual benefit year begins on July 1. Eligibility is based on work in the prior
year, or the base year. To qualify in the benefit year beginning July 1, 2020, railroad workers must
have base year earnings of $4,012.50 in calendar year 2019, counting no more than $1,605 per
month.51 New railroad workers must also have at least five months of covered railroad work in
the base year. To receive unemployment benefits, a worker must be ready, wil ing, and able to
work.
The maximum daily unemployment and sickness benefit payable in the benefit year that began
July 1, 2020, is $80, and the maximum benefit for a biweekly claim is $800. Normal y, the benefit
amount is subject to sequestration pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25, as
amended). For example, the maximum daily benefit of $80 was reduced by 5.9% to $75.28, and
the maximum biweekly benefit was reduced by 5.9% to $752.80 from July 1 to September 30,
2020 (see Table 2).52 The rate for mandatory sequester is 5.7% for FY2021.53 However, the

48 In FY2019, financing for the Unemployment and Sickness Insurance Program also included an interest income of
$5.3 million.
49 45 U.S.C. §358(a)(14).
50 RRB, “ Railroad Retirement and Unemployment Insurance T axes in 2021 ,” December 2020, at https://www.rrb.gov/
NewsRoom/NewsReleases/RetirementUnemploymentInsuranceT axes.
51 RRB, “Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits,” at https://rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/2020%20UB-
9%20%28web%29.pdf. T o qualify in the benefit year beginning July 1, 2021, railroad workers must have base year
earnings of $4,137.50 in calendar year 2020, counting no more than $1,655 per month.
52 Railroad unemployment benefits are paid biweekly for up to 10 days of unemployment . Certain railroad sickness
benefits are also subject to regular T ier I railroad retirement taxes, resulting in a further reduction of 7.65 % (Social
Security and Medicare payroll taxes). Applying the 5.7% reduction to these sickness benefits will result in a maximum
two-week total of $714.11. The rate of reduction due to sequestration is set annually and may continue past September
30, 2021.
53 T he sequestration rate in FY2021 will apply to FY2022-FY2030 unless otherwise specified by Congress. See House
Committee on the Budget, FAQs on Sequester: An Update for 2020 , March 2020, at https://budget.house.gov/sites/
Congressional Research Service
12

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Continued Assistance to Rail Workers Act of 2020 (CARWA; enacted under P.L. 116-260 on
December 27, 2020) granted temporary relief from sequestration beginning January 3, 2021,
through 30 days after termination of the presidential declaration of a national emergency
concerning COVID-19.54 Therefore, the maximum daily RUIA benefit would be $80 in the
current benefit year (through June 30, 2021) if the presidential declaration continues to be in
effect through at least May 30, 2021.
Railroad workers receive these benefits only to the extent that they are higher than other benefits
they receive under the RRA, the Social Security Act, or certain other public programs, including
workers compensation.
Table 2. Unemployment and Sickness Benefits and Sequestration
Benefit
Maximum Daily
Maximum
Maximum Daily
Reduction Rate
Benefits Payable
Biweekly Benefits
Benefit Before
Due to
After
Payable After
Time
Sequestrationa
Sequestrationb
Sequestration
Sequestration
Oct 1, 2019-Jun 30,
$78
5.9%
$73.40
$733.98
2020
Jul 1, 2020-Sep 30,
$80
5.9%
$75.28
$752.80
2020
Oct 1, 2020-Jan 2,
$80
5.7%
$75.44
$754.40
2021
Jan 3, 2021-Jun 30,
$80
0%c
$80.00
$800.00
2021
Jul 1, 2021-Sep 30,
$82
0%d
$82.00
$820.00
2021
Source: Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits, July 2020, at
https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/2020%20UB-9%20%28web%29.pdf; and RRB, Railroad
Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Wil See Slight Decrease in New Sequestration Reduction Rate
, September 2020,
at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2020-09/NR2012.pdf.
Notes: The annual benefit year for the RUIA program begins July 1. The annual sequestration begins October 1
(the starting date for each fiscal year).
a. The maximum daily RUIA benefit general y increases every benefit year starting July 1.
b. The change in the mandatory sequester is effective at the beginning of each fiscal year.
c. The Continued Assistance to Rail Workers Act of 2020 (enacted under P.L. 116-260 ) granted temporary
relief from sequestration beginning January 3, 2021, through 30 days after termination of the presidential
declaration of a national emergency concerning COVID-19.
d. Starting July 1, 2021, the maximum daily unemployment and sickness benefit payable in the benefit year wil
increase to $82. If the national emergency concerning COVID-19 ends, the regular mandatory sequester
wil start to apply 30 days after the termination. Otherwise, the RUIA benefits wil continue to be exempt
from the sequestration.
Unemployment and sickness beneficiaries may receive normal benefits for up to 26 weeks in a
benefit year or until the benefits they receive equal their creditable earnings in the base year if
sooner. There is a one-week waiting period for unemployment and sickness benefits.55 Employees

democrats.budget.house.gov/files/documents/Sequester%20FAQs.pdf.
54 RRB, Program Letter 2021-02, January 4, 2021, at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2021-01/
Program%20Letter%2021-02%20CARWA.pdf.
55 T here is a two-week waiting period for unemployment benefits if a worker participates in a legal strike.
Congressional Research Service
13

link to page 17 Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

with at least 10 years of covered railroad service may qualify for extended unemployment or
sickness benefits for 13 weeks after they have exhausted normal benefits.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; enacted under P.L. 116-
136 on March 27, 2020), CARWA, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA; enacted
under P.L. 117-2 on March 11, 2021) authorized temporary recovery benefit payments and
additional extended benefits to qualified unemployed railroad workers and waived the one-week
waiting period for both unemployment and sickness benefits under the RUIA. Some detailed
provisions are listed below.
 The CARES Act provided a $600 enhanced (recovery) benefit per week to a qualified
employee for any unemployment insurance (UI) registration period beginning on or after
April 1, 2020, but no later than July 31, 2020. CARWA and ARPA provide a $300
enhanced benefit per week to a qualified employee for any UI registration period
beginning on or after December 27, 2020, but no later than September 6, 2021.
 Under the CARES Act, an employee with 10 or more years of service is eligible for an
additional 65 days of extended unemployment benefits, for a total of 130 days within 13
consecutive two-week registration periods. CARWA and ARPA together add an additional
200 days within 20 additional consecutive two-week registration periods, which are
available only for days of unemployment on or after December 28, 2020. No additional
days under the CARES Act, CARWA, or ARPA are available for registration periods
beginning after September 6, 2021.56
 The CARES Act, CARWA and ARPA waive the one-week waiting period for both
unemployment and sickness benefits under the RUIA for any registration period that
begins on or after March 28, 2020, and ends on or before September 6, 2021.57
Table 3 displays the number and average weekly amount of RUIA benefits paid in September
2020. From May to September 2020, as authorized under the CARES Act, the RRB additional y
paid $134.8 mil ion in enhanced unemployment benefits, $12.9 mil ion in special extended
railroad unemployment benefits, and $5.2 mil ion waived waiting period benefits to
unemployment and sickness beneficiaries.58
Table 3. Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits, September 2020
Number of
Number of
Average Weekly
Type of Benefits
Beneficiaries for
Beneficiaries for
Normal Benefits
Extended Benefits
Benefit
Unemployment
9,306
179
$376.35

56 Under the CARES Act, an employee with less than 10 years of service is eligible to receive up to 65 days of
extended unemployment benefits within seven consecutive two-week registration periods. CARWA and ARPA
together add an additional 200 days within 20 additional consecutive two-week registration periods, which are available
only for days of unemployment on or after December 28, 2020. No additional days under the CARES Act, CARWA, or
ARPA are available for registration periods beginning after September 6, 2021.
57 For more information, see RRB, Unemployment and Sickness Benefit Flexibilities Under the Railroad
Unem ploym ent Insurance Act (RUIA) during the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
, revised January 5, 2021, at https://rrb.gov/
sites/default/files/2021-01/RUIA%20FAQs%20%28update8%29_0.pdf; and CRS Report R45478, Unem ployment
Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 116th Congress
.
58 RRB, Bureau of the Actuary, Quarterly Benefit Statistics, April-June 2020 and July-September 2020, T able 3,
https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/stat_qbs0920. T he RRB started making the payments under the CARES
Act on the evening of May 28, including retroactive payments to individuals who had previously filed claims beginning
on or after April 1, 2020.
Congressional Research Service
14

Railroad Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

Sickness
5,350
257
$374.95
Source: Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of the Actuary, Quarterly Benefit Statistics, July-September 2020,
Table 3, https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/stat_qbs0920.pdf.
Notes: Beginning in April 2020, RUIA claimants have also been paid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and
Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act). In September 2020, an additional $1.0 mil ion in enhanced benefits
were paid to 600 railroad unemployment beneficiaries, $$1.1 mil ion in extended railroad unemployment benefits
were paid to 900 beneficiaries, and $0.7 mil ion in waived waiting period benefits were paid to 3,200
unemployment and sickness beneficiaries.
Workers who apply for unemployment benefits are automatical y enrolled in a free job placement
service operated by railroad employers and the RRB.59
Author Information

Zhe Li

Analyst in Social Policy


Acknowledgments
CRS Research Assistant Isaac Nicchitta contributed in updating the report.

Disclaimer
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should n ot be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
connection with CRS’s institutional role. CRS Reports, as a work of the United States Government, are not
subject to copyright protection in the United States. Any CRS Report may be reproduced and distributed in
its entirety without permission from CRS. However, as a CRS Report may include copyrighted images or
material from a third party, you may need to obtain the permission of the copyright holder if you wish to
copy or otherwise use copyrighted material.


59 For more information, see RRB, “Free Placement Service,” at https://www.rrb.gov/Free_Placement_Service.
Congressional Research Service
RS22350 · VERSION 36 · UPDATED
15