The general course and method by which the Board's functions are channeled and determined.
(a) Retirement and death benefits.
Retirement and death benefits must be applied for by filing application therefor. (For details as to application, see parts 210 and 237 of this chapter ). The Bureau of Retirement Claims considers the application and the evidence and information submitted with it. Wage and service records maintained by the Board are checked and if necessary, further evidence is obtained from the employee, the employer, fellow employees, public records and any other person or source available. The Bureau makes initial decisions on the following matters:
Applications for benefits;
Requests for the withdrawal of an application;
Requests for a change in an annuity beginning date;
The termination of an annuity;
The modification of the amount of an annuity or lump sum;
Requests for the reinstatement of an annuity which had been terminated or modified;
The existence of an erroneous payment;
The eligibility of an individual for a supplemental annuity or the amount of such supplemental annuity.
Whether representative payments shall serve the interests of an individual by reason of his incapacity to manage his annuity payments; and
Who shall be appointed or continued as representative payee on behalf of an annuitant.
A claimant dissatisfied with the Bureau's decision may, upon filing notice within one year from the date the decision is mailed to the claimant, appeal to the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals. Provided, however, That (i) an individual under age 16 shall not have the right to appeal a finding of incapacity to manage his annuity payments, but shall have the right to contest on appeal that he is, in fact, under age 16; (ii) an individual who has been adjudged legally incompetent shall not have the right to appeal a finding of incapacity to manage his annuity payments, but shall have the right to contest on appeal the fact of his having been adjudged legally incompetent; and (iii) an individual shall not have the right to appeal a denial of his application to serve as representative payee on behalf of an annuitant. There he may have an oral hearing before a hearings officer of which a stenographic record is made, submit additional evidence, be represented, and present written and oral argument. If dissatisfied with the decision of the hearings officer, the claimant may appeal to the Board itself. This appeal must be made on a prescribed form within four months of the date a copy of the hearings officer's decision was mailed to him. If new evidence is received, the Board may remand the case to the hearings officer for investigation and recommendation concerning the new evidence. (For details on appeals procedure, see part 260 of this chapter.) A claimant, after he has unsuccessfully appealed to the Board itself and has thus exhausted all administrative remedies within the Board, may obtain a review of a final decision of the Board by filing a petition for review, within one year after the entry of the decision on the records of the Board and its communication to the claimant, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the claimant resides, or in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, or in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
(b) Unemployment, sickness, and maternity benefits.
Claims for unemployment benefits are handled by a comprehensive organization set up in the field. Under agreements between the Railroad Retirement Board and covered employers, the employers select employees of theirs to act as unemployment claims agents. These agents perform their services, specified in the agreement, in accordance with instructions issued by the Board but under general supervision and control of the employer. In accordance with the agreements, employers are reimbursed for such services at the rate of 50 cents for each claim taken by an unemployment claims agent and transmitted to the Board. There are some 13,000 such contract claims agents. An unemployed person who wishes to file a claim for unemployment benefits need only consult his recent railroad employer to be directed to the unemployment claims agent with whom he may file his claim.
When an employee makes his first claim in any benefit year, he identifies himself and fills out an application for unemployment benefits (UI-1), an application for employment service (Form ES-1), and a pay rate report (Form UI 1a) to be used in determining the rate at which benefits may be paid. The employee is given an informational booklet UB-4 and an Unemployment Bulletin No. UB-3 informing him of his responsibilities and explaining the statements to which he is required to certify and to which he does certify when he registers for benefits. When the applications and pay rate report are completed, the unemployment claims agent sends them to the nearest field office of the Board. That office inspects the applications to detect errors and omissions and to note items requiring investigation. The office also attempts to verify the employee's statement about his pay rate unless the unemployment claims agent has already done so. The application for unemployment benefits and the pay rate report are then sent to the appropriate regional office of the Board. The application for employment service is retained in the field office for use in referring the claimant to suitable job openings. On the basis of the information furnished on the application for unemployment benefits, the regional office determines whether the applicant is a qualified employee (that is, whether he earned $500 or more from covered employment in the base year). The applicant is notified by letter if he is found to be not qualified.
In addition to the application forms and pay rate report, the claimant executes a registration and claim for unemployment insurance benefits (Form UI-3). In substance, registration consists of his appearing before an unemployment claims agent during the agent's working hours and signing his name on the registration and claim form for the days he wishes to claim as days of unemployment. Registration for any day must be made on the day or not later than the sixth calendar day thereafter, except that, if such calendar day is not a business day, the claimant may make his registration on the next following business day. In other words, a claimant must ordinarily appear for registration at seven- day intervals. Under certain circumstances, such as illness, employment, looking for employment, etc., an employee may make a delayed registration for any day for which he is unable to register within the time limit mentioned above. The unemployment claims agent sends the claim to the nearest field office where it is inspected with a view to calling the claimant in for interview or referral to job openings, detecting errors and omissions, and noting items requiring investigation. The claim is then forwarded to the regional office.
Claims for sickness benefits are handled by the field organization of the Board. An employee need not register in person for sickness benefits but claims for such benefits must be made on the forms prescribed by the Board and executed by the individual claiming benefits except that, if the Board is satisfied that an employee is so sick or injured that he cannot sign forms, the Board may accept forms executed by someone else in his behalf. Forms used in connection with claims for sickness benefits may be obtained from a railroad employer, a railway labor organization, or any Board office. An application for sickness benefits (Form SI-1a) and the required statement of sickness (Form SI-1b) may be mailed to any office of the Board (see part 335 of this chapter ). It is important that a statement of sickness be filed promptly, for no day can be considered as a day of sickness unless a statement of sickness with respect to such day is filed at an office of the Board within ten days. The application and statement of sickness are forwarded to a regional office where they are examined. If it appears that the employee is entitled to benefits, the regional office will send him a claim form covering a 14-day registration period, and a pay rate report (Form SI-1d). The employee completes the forms, indicating on the claim form the days during the period he claims as days of sickness and returns both forms to the regional office to which the claim form is preaddressed. When additional medical information is needed, a form for supplemental doctor's statement is sent to the employee. This should be filled out by a doctor and returned to the Board.
Maternity benefits must be applied for on a form prescribed by the Board. A statement of maternity sickness, executed by a person authorized to execute statements of sickness (see part 335 of this chapter ), is required also. The necessary forms may be obtained from a railroad employer, a railway labor organization, or any Board office. An application for maternity benefits (Form SI-101) and the statement of maternity sickness (Form SI-104) may be filed in person or by mail with any Board office. It is important that the statement of maternity sickness be filed promptly since no day can be considered as a day of sickness in a maternity period unless a statement of maternity sickness with respect to the day is filed at an office of the Board within ten days. As in the case of claims for sickness benefits, the forms are forwarded to a regional office. Claim forms are mailed to the claimant and are pre-addressed for return to the regional office.
Whether benefits are payable to a claimant and, if so, the amount of benefits payable, is determined with respect to claims for unemployment, sickness, and maternity benefits, by the regional office. The names and addresses of claimants to whom benefits are found payable, and the amounts payable to them, are certified to the local disbursing office of the Treasury Department which mails the benefit checks to the claimants. If a claim is denied in whole or in part, an explanation is given to the claimant by letter.
The rate at which benefits are payable is determined from the claimant's railroad wages earned in a base year period or from his daily pay rate for his last railroad employment in the base year period, whichever will result in the higher benefit rate. His daily benefit rate will be at least 60 per centum of his daily pay rate for his last railroad employment in the base year period, but not exceeding $10.20.
Any qualified employee whose claim for benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act has been denied in whole or in part may, within one year from the date such denial is communicated to him, appeal from the initial determination, and such appeal will be heard before an impartial hearings officer. An unsuccessful claimant in an appeal before such hearings officer may appeal to the Board. (For further details of appeals procedure by claimants for benefits and for appeals procedure by employers, see parts 319 and 320 of this chapter.)
Any claimant, or any railway labor organization organized in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, of which the claimant is a member, or any other party aggrieved by a final decision pursuant to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, may, only after all administrative remedies within the Board will have been availed of and exhausted, obtain a review of such final decision of the Board by filing a petition for review within 90 days after the mailing of notice of such decision to the claimant or other party, or within such further time as the Board may allow, in the United States court of appeals for the circuit in which the claimant or other party resides or will have had his principal place of business or principal executive office, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
(c) Current compensation and service records.
Current compensation and service records are maintained by the Bureau of Research and Employment Accounts. These records are obtained from reports made periodically on either a quarterly or annual basis by employers and employee representatives. General instructions in this regard may be found in part 250 of this chapter. Special instructions to employers and employee representatives are issued from time to time by the Director of Research and Employment Accounts.
(d) Collection of contributions.
The Office of Budget and Fiscal Operations acts as the collecting agency of the Board in receiving contributions due under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. Contributions are, with some few exceptions, due quarterly and with the payment, the employer must file a report, Form DC-1, Employers Quarterly or Annual Report of Contributions under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. (For further details see part 345 of this chapter.)
(e) Employment service.
Employers needing workers may avail themselves of the Board's employment service by making requests of any field office for referrals, in writing, on forms provided by the Board, or by telephone.
[15 FR 6752, Oct. 6, 1950, as amended at 21 FR 4808, June 29, 1956; Board Order 62-115, 27 FR 9254, Sept. 19, 1962; Board Order 67-67, 32 FR 9064, June 27, 1967; 41 FR 22557, June 4, 1976. Redesignated at 52 FR 11010, Apr. 6, 1987, as amended at 55 FR 26430, June 28, 1990]