• UNFILTERED With Paul Wingo / Please read first
  • Continuing Benefits
  • Reporting Injuries
  • Applying for Disability
  • Railroad Discipline
  • Dealing with Doctors
UNFILTERED With Paul Wingo / Please read first

About Paul Wingo

The name Paul Wingo at Steel & Moss Law Firm is probably the most widely circulated name  among railroad employees as the best source of advice, counsel and correct answers when no one else seems to have the experience in dealing with so many issues that he has.

Paul Wingo is the Director of Disability Claims and Benefits at Steel, Moss, LLP. Paul worked for Norfolk Southern Railroad for over 40 years as a Locomotive Engineer, serving in several elected positions as a Union Officer for 37 years.


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Listed below in no certain order are samples of questions and answers, options and advice he has given to his callers for many years.

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.


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Continuing Benefits

Surprise! Your Insurance has Terminated

Q: What are the circumstances where the railroad can terminate employee and dependent coverage without notification? 

A: There are several that come to mind. First of course is failure to submit the P.O.D. Form; off suspended/dismissed or furloughed four months; failed to work seven days in current month the coverage will not be in effect the next month, sometimes a Claims Agent is notified you have hired a lawyer he can stop handling your eligibility; death of an active employee, dependent coverage ends in for months but death of a 60/30 retired employee, dependent coverage continues until the employee would have reached age 65. 


Insurance Has Stopped

Q: I have been off sick for two months and today discovered at the drug store that my insurance is not in effect, Why is this?

A: The number one reason for this problem is failure to submit the required Proof of disability Form to keep insurance in effect for the remainder of the qualifying year plus two more, one year less for dependents and one year after the qualifying year for dental and vision benefits. Vacation pay received in the year after the qualifying year will add one more year of coverage but not for dental and vision.


Q: I received vacation pay in the year after the qualifying year but extension was not applied, why?

A: Probably because you failed to submit the earnings report as proof of being paid vacation your provider on railroad enrollment services.


No Expense for Insurance Continuation

Q: Do I have to pay the monthly contributory on insurance provided after I am unable to work and insurance continues?

A: NO!


Taking Charge

Q: I am off with injury and Corvelle Company will not pay my medical bills timely or grant approval for MRI, what should I do?

A: Write your insurance provider and authorize all bills associated with your injury to be paid from your labor contract insurance.


Duration of Sick Benefits

Q: How long can I draw RRB Sick Benefits?

A: Normal benefits for up to 130 days in a benefit year, for extended benefits you need 10 or more years of service. Each July starts a new benefit. Call 772-5772 or on line RRB.GOV to renew benefits.


Replacing Expired Insurance

Q: What exactly is a Disability Freeze?

A: It is a provision from Congress that will provide benefits and Medicare insurance to a person on occupational disability additional benefits of early Medicare just like a social security disabled person if you can meet the disability criteria of social security. It can also provide dependent children benefits but is is a long process waiting on social security to coordinate benefits.


Dark Years

Q: are there any survivor benefits for a widow with no dependent children and not old enough for a regular widow annuity?

A: If you are between ages 50-59 and can be rated as disabled then you are eligible for a Disabled Widow’s Annuity with an age reduction penalty. 


Don’t Risk Losing Retiree Insurance

Q: If I am age 60 and have 30 years service and just dismissed for a rule violation can I possibly lose my GA-46000 retiree insurance if I want to wait for the P.L. Board decision and my appeal is not successful?

A: You will be taking a huge chance by not just retiring and transfer your GA-23000 insurance to GA-46000 that will carry you and your spouse all the to age 65 and Medicare insurance because your GA-23000 in suspended/dismissed status will terminate in four months from the date of your last compensation. However, if you went under a doctor’s care and had a signed P.O.D. Form that would change your status to disabled and GA-23000 would continue. Then if the P.L.Board decision was unfavorable you could transfer over to GA-46000 the 60/30 retiree insurance plan.


Reporting Injuries

Should I Report the Injury

Q: I am still on duty and I felt a pop in my shoulder when a hand brake chain skipped a link and not sure if it is really injured enough to report it, what should I do?

A: You must report anything you suspect to be an injury at the time of the incident or be pulled out of service and dismissed when you attempt to report it the next day. Identify in detail the defects of the equipment that was the cause.


Avoiding Mistakes

Q: I have just submitted an injury report and being transported by a Trainmaster to ER, the cause is clearly on the injury report but he is asking multiple questions. What should I do?

A: Tell him the cause is on the report, you are in pain and not concentrating and not going to say anything conflicting and be charged. Tell the ER doctor they will tag team you with questions when you leave and he will give discharge orders for complete and immediate rest.


Q: I am back home now following my injury, what can I expect now and how can I avoid mistakes?

A: If you have a follow up appointment with a specialist, notify the company where you are going and before the Claims Agent calls, you call someone at Steel and Moss for some counsel. THE FIRST 24 HOURS AFTER THE REPORT IS CRITICAL TO AVOID UNNECESSARY QUESTIONING OF YOUR SUPERVISORS SEEKING TO CHARGE YOU with making conflicting statements. After that, you are turned over to the Claims Department.


Claims Agent Statement

Q: What does the Claims Agent want if he has a copy of the injury report?

A: He wants you to say there was no defective equipment and you could have done things differently and reduce or eliminate liability.


Recorded Interview

Q: What kind of release will the Claims Agent ask for?

A: Complete release of all medical records but you agree only to records of the incident.


Avoid Post-Injury Casual Discussions with Supervisors

Q: If I am injured and report it before leaving the property and describe defective equipment that caused my injury on the injury report do I have to answer questions while a Trainmaster transports me to ER?

A: First of all, you can insist on Medical attention first before filling out the injury report. Then due to medication effects, delay the filling out of the report. Tell the ER doctor to put immediate rest on your discharge papers. Questioning the injured employee with multiple questions is by design to obtain anything conflicting so we should avoid all conversations with carrier officials. 98 % of charges on an injured employee stem from discussions with company officers on the way to treatment or following.


Applying for Disability

Disability Process

Q: I don’t have enough service months for occupational disability and must apply for total disability is this going to be more difficult for approval?

A: It is a completely different process and requirements although you use the same application. Occupational disability is strictly the question of ability to perform your railroad job, with total disability, forget your concern for the railroad job, you must prove you cannot work in any capacity. Hopefully you have mental impairments along with your physical issues, you take medications for both and you describe your daily activities and inabilities in great detail using section 9 of the application to expand. If you are sent for a physical by RRB Contractor known as QTC Services and that doctor wants to discuss your railroad job put all emphasis on any job. Call RRB and report your concern about the exam.


Decision on Disability

Q: I am forced to go on disability, what do I do to get started in that process?

A: Give Paul your email address for complete step by step instructions.


Occupational or Total Disability

Q: How many occupational disability applications are denied VS, Total and permanent applications?

A: I have been assisting for 40 years and not once have I ever seen a denial of an application for occupational disability but I have seen many denied T&P. We put all we have into a T&P application because the employee is out so far on a limb producing documents to support the condition and if we failed the railroad would not approve the return to service. We have not had a denial in a long time if the application has the right stuff and plenty of effort. Steel and Moss places great importance on getting our injury clients that cannot return to work on a disability annuity with monthly cash flow and Medicare insurance.


Other Law Firms

Q: Do the other F.E.L.A. Law Firms assist with disability?

A: I can’t speak for other Firms but as far as I know the answer to that question is NO! Since 2006 we have had this program to assist the disabled employee with disability applications. This package is probably worth more than a million to a former employee under 45.


Don’t Apply Without Insurance Locked In

Q: What is the most important thing for me to do when applying for disability?

A: Get the P.O.D. Form submitted to make certain your insurance is locked in.


Speed Up the Process

Q: What can I do to speed up the process? 

A: Have the Medical Department disqualify you.


Needed Service Months

Q: What is the eligibility requirement for Occupational Disability?

A: 120 credible months at any age or 60 months at age 60.


Railroad Discipline

Making the Right Decision in a Difficult Time

Q: I heard Paul state at a union meeting “the best choice going forward for a dismissed employee with over 20 years is occupational disability if eligible rather than seeking non-railroad employment. How can that be?

A: A 20 year railroad employee has fell so deep into railroading, it is said he has no transferrable skills to the non-railroad job market that the pay would exceed his disability annuity amount of probably $3400.00 a month with no withholding of Tier 1, no Tier 2 or union dues to pay plus if he works over 18 months he loses his current connection which means he loses survivor benefits for his spouse who would have only social security upon is death. Plus, he can legally earn $810.00 a month. Seeking non-railroad employment would mean leaving about $4200.00 a month on the table and subjecting his widow to a heavy penalty that he had earned working at the railroad. Actually, the path forward is a no-brainer. Also, if he submits a proof of disability form prior to being in dismissed status 4 months, he can lock in insurance coverage for over 3 years.

During that period he can get qualified for a “disability freeze and early Medicare insurance! Dismissal wasn’t so bad after all!


Insurance In Any Situation

Q: If a dismissed employee has a pregnant spouse and his insurance expires in four months leaving the spouse in third trimester of pregnancy, can she get coverage?

A: That situation is considered a total and permanent condition and she retains coverage under the “Extension of Current Benefits” provision in the H&W union contract.


An Unfortunate Illness

Q: This is my second time dismissed for rule G and a public law board will not put me back, what can I do?

A: Obviously you are alcohol dependent and probably can’t function on any job. Alcohol dependency is a serious illness. Get a P.O.D. signed before the fourth month of your dismissal and lock in your insurance then apply for T&P disability. While your insurance is still in effect, call United Behavioral Health and once again seek treatment.


Dealing with Doctors

Find a Reasonable Doctor

Q: My doctor does not want to sign my Proof of Disability Form, what do I do?

A: Explain to the doctor the P.O.D. Form is not and will not be a part of your application for disability. It is a document the Insurance provider must have to continue providing insurance while you are unable to work. You cannot start the disability process not knowing if your insurance is locked in. The P.O.D. Form clearly states it is a insurance company document. Surely, he will understand this although we must understand that even in medical school, someone must graduate at the bottom of the class. Doctors cause us much frustration unnecessarily.


Forms Must be Signed

Q: My surgeon repaired my knee and wants to release me for work telling me to get light duty and take it easy.

A: Your doctor is educated beyond his intelligence and is going to cause you to lose all your benefits and short-term disability and all your benefits. Tell him the railroad medical department will except only a 100% release, you walk on ballast of various sizes on sloping grade. You can also ask your Physical Therapist to consult your doctor. 



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