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How FELA Affects Retirement Benefits

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How FELA Affects Retirement Benefits

How FELA Affects Retirement Benefits

By Jan Hoen

The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) is some of the nation’s oldest social legislation, and it specifically addresses the matter of injured railroad workers. FELA represents important protections for covered employees, but it is also exceptionally complicated. If you’re a railroad worker who’s been injured by your employer’s negligence, the best path forward is with an experienced Hampton FELA claims attorney in your corner. 

Recovering Damages under FELA

In order to be compensated through FELA as an injured railroad worker, the following must apply:

  • Your injuries must have been sustained in the course and scope of your work duties as a railroad employee. Your injuries, however, need not have been acquired while you were at the railroad property – as long as you were on the job when you were injured. 
  • The railroad you work for must engage in interstate commerce that crosses at least one state line. 
  • Your job as a railroad worker must have directly caused or have contributed in some meaningful way to the injuries you sustained. 

Your Employer’s Negligence

Railroad work is undeniably dangerous work, and your employer owes you a considerable duty of care (which means the company has a responsibility to your safety) as a result. This duty includes adhering to the following safety precautions:

  • Maintaining a reasonably safe work environment
  • Providing the necessary tools and equipment (in reasonably safe condition) to get the job done
  • Enforcing the necessary safety rules, regulations, and restrictions
  • Warning employees of unsafe conditions
  • Not assigning work tasks that exceed an employee’s physical capacity

Your Retirement Benefits

As a railroad worker, you are covered by an entirely different retirement benefits system than most other employees are. When you retire, instead of looking to Social Security, you will draw your retirement benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), which is headquartered in Chicago. While the Social Security benefits that most people draw are similar to RRB benefits, there are several primary distinctions, including that RRB benefits have an additional level (Tier II) available. 

Tier II Benefits

Tier I of RRB basically mirrors the benefits employees receive from Social Security. Tier II, however, is exclusive to railroad workers, and it is comparable to a private pension via a payroll deduction program that includes your employer matching funds. In this Tier II system, you are credited by the months of service you put in, and the following apply:

  • You must have put in 10 full years of service as a railroad worker to qualify. 
  • If all your service as a railroad worker occurred after 1995, you must have put in a full 5 years of service.

Keeping track of your creditable months of service to the railroad is recommended (to help ensure that your service is accurately reported and compensated).    

Reach out to an Experienced FELA Claims Attorney in Hampton Today

The practiced Hampton FELA claims attorneys at Hampton Injury Law PLC recognize the serious challenges that railroad workers face and are committed to fighting for their most advantageous claims resolutions and retirement benefits. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact us today. 

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