Your Rights Are Now Protected by New Disability Pension Governing Principles

By Bob Dolan,
Partner at YJB

In late 1996, two of the three members of the Railroad Retirement Board initiated a board meeting in Chicago with little or no notice to the railroad labor community at large. The railroad industry, with the participation of the "neutral" Railroad Retirement Board Chair Glen Bower, was attempting to make sweeping changes which would have dramatically increased the costs of processing disability claims and kept many deserving workers from obtaining disability pensions.

YJB, although receiving only a day's notice, sent one of its senior lawyers to personally attend this meeting because it was clear the railroads were attempting to ramrod through sweeping changes affecting the application process and qualification requirements for obtaining a railroad disability annuity. Mr. V.M. Speakman, Jr., the Labor member, did an outstanding job attempting to thwart the majority.

The unions were quick to respond and gained a six month delay in implementing any changes. During this period union leadership led an exhaustive informational campaign educating the membership and key leaders in government about the crucial role the Railroad Retirement system plays. YJB helped emphasize the importance of this matter through our own contacts with members of Congress and railroad workers.

The implementation of the drastic and unfair changes was thwarted and a Labor Management Joint Committee on Railroad Retirement was set up to address the concerns about the disability program. The governing principles this committee has established, and which will guide the development of new regulations, follow on next page. Note: the new regulations have not yet been issued and it is unclear when they will go into effect. Nevertheless, the governing principles should put to rest the fears of radical changes that would have harmed many workers.

The FELA lawyers of Yaeger & Jungbauer Barristers, PLC invite you to contact their office for further discussion of this topic. This article is designed for general information only and should be considered neither formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer client relationship.