September 25, 20200

  • Basic spouse annuity is 50% of employee’s Tier 1 and 45% of the Tier 2. Basic amount of a Divorced Spouse annuity is 50% of the Tier 1 and zero Tier 2 unless a court order treats the Tier 2 as community property and awards the spouse a certain percentage determined by the court. If spouse’s social security is greater than 50% of employee’s Tier 1, spouse can draw her/his social security and employee’s Tier 2.
  • If the employee retires 60/30 and the spouse is age 60 and also eligible to retire but wants to work, spouse can continue to work and be eligible for a portion of the employee’s annuity.
  • If you retire 60/30, and your spouse is disabled (on social security) and eligible for Medicare but has been on your GA-23000 insurance while in active railroad service, once you are retired the spouse is ineligible for GA-46000 and must enroll in Medicare Part B rather than GA-46000.
  • Spouse is eligible for retirement annuity at any age with the retired employee if caring for employee’s dependent child.
  • Your spouse should know that widows between the ages of 50 and 59 could be eligible for a monthly annuity if disabled and unable to work. Without caring for dependent children it’s about the only option.

Paul Wingo



September 14, 20200

When Congress made the provision for Occupational Disability for railroad employees it was noted that social security disability, although requiring the annuitant to be disabled from all regular and substantial work, insurance was provided by Medicare, taxes were less and dependent children were eligible, making the social security disability benefits significantly greater than the railroad occupational disability. So, Congress inserted a provision into railroad occupational disability whereas if the railroad annuitant could meet the social security criteria of being disabled from all regular and substantial work, the social security benefits would be applied to occupational disability and be known as a “disability freeze”. This included payments to dependent children which is why it takes several months after you are awarded disability to get them included, waiting for social security to handle red-tape details.

If you think you might be eligible for Disability Freeze, call Paul Wingo 423-802-7351 or Click Here

Next, is how to qualify for the freeze and decide if you should want to qualify. You qualify for the disability freeze by providing all the physical and mental impairment information in your application that you might not normally do when applying for occupational disability with strong emphasis on your daily living inabilities. If you have 360 credible months and already are age 60 or will reach age 60 before your GA-23000 insurance terminates and no dependent children you may not want a disability freeze because you are going to be eligible for GA-46000 the 60/30 early retirement insurance and that will carry you (with prescription coverage) to age 65 Railroad Medicare. However, once RR Medicare is awarded, it becomes primary. Anytime you are awarded Railroad Medicare you will want to call 800-842-5252 and inquire about the Medicare Supplement GA-23111, Plan F. Prescription coverage is GA-23111 Part D. Once you are on Railroad Medicare and your dependent has time remaining on your carrier provided insurance the dependent is eligible until the expiration date set forth in the agreement. Don’t be persuaded by a cheaper Medicare Plan F supplement offering in your mailbox. Unlike the active employee whose insurance terminates in four months from dismissal, death or furlough, GA-46000 remains in effect if the employee dies until he/she would have reached age 65.

Steel & Moss oftentimes have injury clients with under 240 credible months (and not age 60) who are not eligible for occupational disability. We are ever mindful of the financial drain on their settlement funds in providing insurance for the family, no monthly benefits for dependent children and no monthly cash flow to supplement their settlement funds. It is possible to be awarded Total disability without the disability freeze package. This is the mission of the Steel & Moss disability section headed by Paul Wingo at no fee to our clients. If we are successful in obtaining a disability freeze attached to either T&P or Occupational Disability, the lifetime value of this package is probably one million dollars that would have put a considerable drain on his/her settlement. We have not had a client unable to return to work that did not get this benefit in several years. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to find other railroad employees injured on the job, obtain a settlement and has none of the above benefits. This is one reason why John Steel and John Moss has funded this section within their F.E.L.A. Law Firm since 2006. We encourage you to attend the annual RRB Labor Member’s Informational Conference.

Paul Wingo

Questions for Paul?


August 28, 20200

Dismissals have caused the current connection to be of much more concern now than in the past. A current connection is required for survivor benefits, supplemental payment, and occupational disability. It is not required for regular retirement based on age and service years or total disability. An employee or former employee loses current connection due to employment outside the railroad industry for over 12 months in a 30 month period, making a good rule of thumb’ don’t go over 18 months. Self-employment will not cause loss of the current connection. I have seen exceptions made in cases of leaving the railroad for the ministry. Going on occupational disability In the timely manner described above will not affect it.

As information, a few other benefits permanently lost by certain other mistakes are:

  • Having a dependent child with issues making that child a dependent adult and not reporting the child to RRB as your permanent dependent before reaching age 22 will cause loss of benefits later when you retire and expect benefits.
  • Being in dismissed status and have a disability and fail to file a proof of disability form before the expiration of four months from month of last compensation will terminate health insurance.
  • I have seen a dismissed/disabled employee qualified for occupational disability with an estimated annuity of over $3500 a month fail to submit the form to change status to disabled and protect insurance eligibility, take a job paying near minimum wage, lose his current connection working that job and after receiving an unfavorable PLB ruling, unable to return to service and also unable to file for occupational disability.

Many years of experience as a union officer seeing the traumatic effect on a railroad employee being dismissed has caused me to do a lot of study on what is the best route forward for most. In the crafts of engineer and conductor  with over 20 years, four main factors are most always present; they have been railroading so long they have no transferable skills to the private sector, if they do gain employment it is probably at unacceptable pay level, self-esteem is lost and depression is the result; most have had some occupational disability from their railroad craft they concealed; they lose their current connection. I am persuaded that occupational disability if objectively eligible is the prudent path to take.

There are many subjects I will cover in future blogs. I hope you will continue reading and if injured call Steel & Moss Law Firm, the best FELA Firm with full focus on your future with two of the finest F.E.L.A Trial Lawyers backed up by the very best disability specialist doing all possible to get you a disability annuity, early Medicare and dependent children benefits, a research & analysis expert on anything on locomotives and modern railroad technology who leaves no stone unturned assisting Steel & Moss plus an at large field man providing invaluable assistance.

Paul Wingo

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