If you or a loved one is retiring form the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you may be wondering how your benefits will work with Medicare. The RRB administers insurance and retirement benefits to all railroad workers in the country. Instead of getting retirement benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration as other workers do, the RRB provides railroad workers and their families with retirement benefits, along with unemployment and sickness benefits, Medicare will still be responsible for the individual’s health care benefits.
If you are going to be eligible for Railroad Medicare soon and you are a qualified railroad retirement beneficiary, you should understand how your retirement benefits work with Medicare.
Medicare Coverage for Railroad Retirees
When people are eligible for either Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits, they will qualify for Medicare due to age or disability. You may be turning 65 years old, or you may be under 65 and have a disability. If you are enrolling in Medicare as a current or former railroad worker, you’ll need to follow specific steps to enrollment in Medicare:
• Your enrollment in Original Medicare is handled by the RRB rather than by 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 RRB benefits at the time, contact your local field office 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, which will determine if you are eligible for Medicare and when it will become effective.
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 (ESRD) 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 Board 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.
Medicare 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.
If you have concerns or questions about your Railroad Retirement benefits and Medicare, you can find out more from your local RRB field office.