FAQ on Unemployment and Sickness Benefit Flexibilities Under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) during the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
From Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) Labor Member John Bragg:
As the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) works its way through this pandemic, I will continue to reach out to you, my fellow brothers and sisters, to keep you informed on the status of the RRB and the benefits we administer. Most recently, on March 31, 2020, I shared information on how the CARES Act boosts unemployment and sickness benefits for railroad workers impacted by the pandemic. That notice included a link to a page on the RRB’s website with guidance in the form of Q&As. You can find the FAQs here: Unemployment and Sickness Benefit Flexibilities Under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) during the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak.
The purpose of this notice is to bring to your attention two changes which have been made to that guidance.
The first change relates to the instructions on filing applications and claims — specifically, the instructions related to the filing for sickness benefits. It is not a significant change, but I still wanted to bring it to your attention. Ordinarily, an applicant for sickness benefits must submit an application form and must also submit Form SI-1b, Statement of Sickness. Because the Form SI-1b requires a doctor’s signature and it was recognized that it may be difficult to get a physician to sign a statement during these unique circumstances, the RRB issued guidance indicating that, in lieu of Form SI-1b, a written statement could be submitted for the first claim. Because of the Paperwork Reduction Act and the manner in which federal agencies may collect information, that statement should now be submitted through an RRB Form G-93, Statement of Claimant or Other Person. You can find that form here: RRB Form-G-93. See also Questions 5-7 of the FAQs. A side benefit is that we believe this will simplify the process for those unable to obtain a Form SI-1b, as it is a fillable form.
The second change relates to the Q&As themselves. We have received numerous inquiries regarding the one-time-only economic relief payment provided by the CARES Act. The RRB is not responsible for these payments. Therefore, we have added the following as Q&A No. 16:
Q: Is the RRB going to pay the one-time-only economic relief payment available to individuals with income of $99,000 or less and couples with income of $198,000 or less?
A: No, the Department of the Treasury will be responsible for making those payments. Additional information regarding the one-time-only economic relief payments can be found at the following link: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know
I want to assure you that, while the worksite environment has changed considerably for RRB employees, the longstanding tradition of commitment to assuring that railroad workers receive the benefits that they have earned remains as strong as ever. These are unprecedented times and I will do my best to keep you informed. As we make changes accordingly, the agency will keep updating the website as well as the FAQs. Meanwhile, if you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Labor Member, Railroad Retirement Board