Ever since 1935, the United States Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has been administering social insurance and retirement benefits to all railroad workers in the country. Railroad workers do not receive their retirement benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration as other workers do. While the RRB provides railroad workers and their families with retirement benefits as well as unemployment and sickness benefits, Medicare is still responsible for their health care insurance benefits.

If you are going to be eligible for Railroad Medicare soon and you are a qualified railroad retirement beneficiary, you need to have the facts about how your retirement benefits work together with Original Medicare.

Can railroad workers get Medicare health insurance coverage?

When people are eligible for either Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits, they are eligible for Medicare, either because they are 65 years old, or they are under 65 and have a disability. But if you are enrolling in Medicare as a current or former railroad worker, there are a few different steps you need to take. Here is a look at what you need to do differently.

• Your enrollment in Original Medicare is handled by the RRB rather than by Social Security. But, as is the case with Social Security, if you receive Railroad Retirement benefits or disability annuity benefits from the railroad at the time of eligibility for Medicare, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B by the RRB.

After the RRB automatically enrolls you, you receive your Medicare card together with a letter from the RRB explaining that you have been enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B. Your Medicare card is similar to the new Medicare cards that all beneficiaries receive, with the exception that “Railroad Retirement Board” is printed in a red banner at the bottom of the card.

If you are 65 and eligible for Medicare but not receiving RR benefits at the time, contact the RRB field office in your area to get enrolled in Medicare.

• If you have a disability and are younger than 65, your eligibility for Medicare health care coverage differs from someone who is receiving Social Security benefits. Your eligibility depends on the RRB classification of your disability. This classification determines if you are eligible for Medicare and when it starts.

In the instance of disability, you must contact your local RRB field office to discuss the details. However, if you have end-stage renal disease and qualify for Medicare, you must go through the Social Security Administration even if you are employed by the railroad.

• The RRB is responsible for collecting your Original Medicare premiums if you receive Railroad Retirement benefits or annuity checks for railroad disability. Your Medicare Part B premium, and Part A if you do not qualify for premium-free Part A coverage, are deducted from your check each month, automatically.

• When you visit physicians or other health care providers, they must send their Part B service charges to a separate contractor who has been selected by the RRB. It is important for you to inform your health care providers that you have Railroad Medicare so the invoices can be paid by Medicare within a reasonable amount of time.

The U.S. Medicare health care program offers coverage to railroad employees just as it does for people who have Social Security. The payroll taxes of railroad employees include railroad retirement and Medicare hospital insurance taxes also.

If you have concerns or questions about your Railroad Retirement benefits and Medicare, you can find out more from your local RRB field office.

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