The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) will send out new Medicare cards that do not feature beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers in the coming weeks.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 required the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop a new card that does not have an individual’s Social Security number on it to cut down on the likelihood of identity theft.
The new Medicare cards instead have a randomly assigned 11-digit combination of numbers and upper-case letters and will no longer indicate the beneficiary’s gender.
When they receive their new Medicare card, beneficiaries should safely and securely destroy their old Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential, the RRB said.
The new card and number will not affect Medicare benefits, and CMS has been working with medical providers to ensure a smooth transition, the RRB said..
A single exception involves people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C. These individuals will continue to use their plan’s identification card for access to Medicare benefits as these cards already have a unique identification number.
The RRB said it will mail the new Medicare cards to about 450,000 beneficiaries in early June. A railroad Medicare beneficiary who has a lost or damaged Medicare card can request a new one by calling the RRB at 877-772-5772 or going to the Benefit Online Services section of the agency’s website at www.rrb.gov.
Beneficiaries also can print out a new card at home by setting up an online account at www.mymedicare.gov. This feature will be available after their new card has been mailed.
CLEVELAND – The Great Lakes Science Center is looking for current and retired rail workers to come aboard and volunteer to help with “All Aboard! The Science of Trains,” a railway display exhibit running Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, through Feb. 19, 2018, at the museum, 601 Erieside Ave. in Cleveland, Ohio.
The display features items from the Midwest Railway Preservation Society and is funded in part by donations from both the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), rail unions headquartered in Northeast Ohio. Portions of the display highlight the importance of the rail industry both in the Cleveland area and around the United States while others deal with the science and technology of trains. Volunteers will help to staff the display and help to explain to tour groups consisting of mostly Cleveland-area schoolchildren what some of the items in the display were used for and share other facts about railroads.
Potential volunteers are asked to call Steve Korpos Jr., the supervisor of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society’s roundhouse, at 216-781-3629. Volunteers will be issued nametags and shirts as representatives of the Midwest Railway group and work alongside Science Center employees.
The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The Midwest Railway Preservation Society is an Ohio 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that repairs and preserves steam locomotives in the historic B&O roundhouse at 2800 W. Third St. in downtown Cleveland.
By Carl Cochran UTU Alumni Association Coordinator
So you’ve invested 40 years of your life working on the railroad or with a bus or transit agency.
You paid your dues – figuratively and literally – to your employer and to your union.
Maybe you were an officer in your local, or just involved. Maybe you even helped with the UTU PAC. Now it’s time for those young ones you probably helped to train to carry on in your stead. It’s time to go fishing, clean out the garage, paint the house, or just take a long break. You have it all figured out.
I’m with you. I’ve been retired from the railroad since 2005. And what we have in common is we are all drawing Railroad Retirement or Social Security benefits and we’re covered by Medicare.
Do you know there are about twice as many retired railroaders as there are active ones? This is important, because you may also remember how, every few years, while you were working, politicians wanted to get their hands on your Railroad Retirement? Well, they are at it again.
Do you also know that attacks on Social Security and Medicare are on Washington’s menu again? Those who want to balance the budget and control the deficits on the backs of folks who paid their dues all their lives have their sights and claws all over our present and future retirements. The business of protecting and improving benefits for you, your family and all those following in your footsteps never sleeps.
Given the threats surrounding us, we need you to stay involved more than ever.
The UTU Alumni Association gives you that opportunity to continue belonging – to stay in touch, to learn about the hot-button issues of the day affecting us, and to participate in helping stem the political tide washing over our livelihoods and threatening our retirement security.
UTU Alumni Association meetings and news keep you informed of threats, and provide an opportunity to take collective action. Retirees can’t match the political contributions of our former employers, but we are known to participate in politics and to vote more than any other demographic group in America. Politicians listen to retirees.
Please consider staying involved by joining the UTU Alumni Association.
In addition to keeping you up to date regarding your union and retirement benefits, the UTU Alumni Association provides additional benefits such as an annual calendar, an embroidered baseball cap, listing in the Final Call, membership in the nearest Alumni Association chapter, discounts on car rentals, cruises, airline travel and lodging, discounts on cellphone service, and much more.
Membership in the UTU Alumni Association also ensures you continue to receive the UTU News in your mailbox.
For more information and to download a membership application form, click on the following link:
Medicare is the primary health insurance for retirees and their spouses. It is available for those over age 65, those under 65 with certain disabilities, and those of any age with permanent kidney failure. It consists of Parts A, B, C and D.
Part A helps cover inpatient care in hospitals and a skilled nursing facility, hospice and home health care.
Part B helps cover doctors’ services, hospital outpatient care and home health care, as well as some preventive services to help maintain your health and to keep certain illnesses from getting worse.
Part C is a Medicare advantage plan similar to an HMO or PPO — health plans run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies. Medicare advantage plans generally include Parts A, B and D.
Part D is a prescription drug program provided by a Medicare-approved private insurance company to help cover the cost of prescription drugs.
You should enroll in Medicare Parts A, B and D when you are first eligible. If you delay enrollment, you will be subject to additional costs for the coverage.
Railroad employees should call the Railroad Retirement Board’s toll-free information line at (877) 772-5772 for enrollment and other information, or Palmetto GBA at (800) 833-4455.
The economic stimulus package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, contains provisions that will provide retirees with one-time payments of $250, extend unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks, and subsidize employee-paid health-care insurance for laid off workers participating in COBRA.
Railroad Retirement and Social Security annuitants will be receiving a one-time $250 payment — a separate check delivered the same way the regular benefit is delivered. That $250 one-time payment will not be considered as taxable income.
Additionally, the economic stimulus package extends unemployment benefits – including those paid under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) – for an additional 13 weeks.
For more information, including eligibility, contact the Railroad Retirement Board via its automated hotline at (800) 808-0772.
Also, the stimulus package provides a subsidy to help unemployed workers pay the costs of health-care insurance extended under COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1986.
That law gives employees, retirees, spouses and dependent children losing coverage under employer health-care plans the right to temporary (18-36 months) continuation of health coverage at group rates. Under COBRA, participants must pay for those health-care insurance benefits.
Under the economic stimulus package, workers laid off since September 2008 are eligible to receive, for a maximum of nine months, a 65 percent federal subsidy toward their payment of COBRA-extended health care insurance.
Government officials warn, however, that until the 65 percent federal contribution kicks in, unemployed workers electing COBRA continuation should continue to pay their premiums in full so as not to lose coverage. The federal government will be providing details shortly on how to apply for the 65 percent subsidy.