I represent an employee of a small railroad in southern Ohio who does not belong to a union. After suffering an injury at work, he did not know what to do. Without guidance from a union or attorney, he was even unaware of the availability of benefits available to him through the Railroad Retirement Board. He did not file an application for Sickness Benefits with the RRB until he spoke to me, almost three months after the injury occurred. Unfortunately, regulations only permit the RRB to pay retroactively for 10 days. He essentially lost the money available to him for the several weeks in which he did not know to file. Here is a portion of the response he received from the RRB:
“The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act provides that a Statement of Sickness is to be filed within 10 days of the first day of your infirmity. Under some circumstances a Statement of Sickness may be considered as filed on time even though it is received by the Board after 10 days. This applies in a case where the employee tried to file a Statement of Sickness at an earlier date, but was prevented by circumstances beyond his or her control from doing so…An employee’s lack of knowledge is not considered to be a circumstance beyond his or her control. Therefore, we cannot consider that your Statement of Sickness was filed within the prescribed time.”
If you or a co-worker suffers an injury at work that will result in lost time, you must file an application for these benefits within 10 days or you may lose benefits. Immediately contact your union representative or an attorney familiar with the railroad industry for guidance.
For those brothers and sisters reading this blog who are members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, there is a great insert on this topic in the middle of the 3rd Quarter 2011 Signalman’s Journal.