Early Retiree Health Insurance
Many railroad workers are eligible for retirement through an Age & Service Retirement Annuity with the RRB if they are at least 60 years old, with at least 30 years of railroad service (and sometimes military service can count towards this total). The average railroad worker, when he or she retires with an Age & Service Annuity will also obtain health insurance coverage through the National Health & Welfare Plan negotiated by the unions.
The “standard plan” for early retirees has a lifetime coverage cap of $182,700 in 2022. A supplemental plan is also typically available for purchase. In addition to covering some of the costs that would have been out-of-pocket with only the base plan, the supplemental plan adds a half-million dollars to the lifetime coverage cap. Importantly, if a retiree doesn’t sign up for the supplemental plan within 4 months of their retirement, they have to wait until the open enrollment period in November to December of only even numbered years.
Options for Early Retirees with an Expensive Medical Diagnosis
Our law firm represents clients who are diagnosed with cancer from their railroad employment, and we understand how financially devastating such a diagnosis can be. Many railroaders have struggled to pay their bills, or in a few worst- case scenarios, have exhausted the full limit of coverage due to the expensive treatments. These workers did not realize that they can file with the RRB to convert their Age & Service to a total disability, if they meet the criteria. The workers thought that once they retired that they were “stuck” with their choice until reaching age 65. As the RRB explains here, a retired worker may qualify for a total and permanent disability, bringing early Medicare coverage.
There are options available in certain situations for railroad retirees who experience an expensive medical diagnosis. In addition to these tips, medical expenses may be recovered from the railroad if the cancer is work-related. Our office represents many railroad workers in FELA cancer claims for occupational-exposure-related cancers and we would be happy to discuss your situation. Please feel free to reach out to our office to discuss your particular situation.