The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is an independent agency in the executive branch of the Federal Government. The RRB’s primary function is to administer comprehensive retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness benefit programs for the nation’s railroad workers and their families, under the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Acts. As part of the retirement program, the RRB also has administrative responsibilities under the Social Security Act for certain benefit payments and railroad workers’ Medicare coverage.
In fiscal year 2014, the RRB paid retirement-survivor benefits of nearly $11.9 billion to about 562,000 beneficiaries. The RRB also paid net unemployment-sickness benefits of $84 million (including almost $1 million in temporary extended unemployment benefits under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, and subsequent reauthorizing legislation) to nearly 25,000 claimants. At the end of fiscal year 2014, the average annuity paid to retired rail employees was more than $2,520 a month, spouse benefits averaged $945 a month, and benefits for aged widow(er)s averaged $1,525 a month. The maximum biweekly rate for unemployment and sickness benefits was $700 prior to sequestration. In accordance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended by the Budget Control Act of 2011, benefits were reduced 7.2 percent for days of unemployment and sickness after September 30, 2013, and 7.3 percent for days after September 30, 2014.