February 12, 2016

Railroad Retirement Board releases actuarial report

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Chicago – The railroad retirement system will experience no cash-flow problems during the next 32 years; barring a sudden, unanticipated, large drop in railroad employment or substantial investment losses, according to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) in its report to the President and Congress. The news gets better. This 32-year estimate is based on [...]

SMART TD introduces hearing discount program

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The SMART Transportation Division is proud to announce a hearing discount program with Amplifon Hearing Health Care. As a SMART Transportation Division member, you and your family members are eligible to receive discounts on hearing exams as well as the purchase of hearing aids. You may also have a funded benefit which will help your [...]

No Railroad Retirement benefit increase in 2016

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Railroad retirement annuities, like social security benefits, will not increase in January 2016 as there was no increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the third quarter of last year to the corresponding period of the current year. Also, because there is no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), social security law prohibits an increase in the [...]

Saving ruins of railroad era in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND – Buried under the rust, the decades of peeling paint jobs, the thousands of miles, the dirt and the gunk is a golden era.  It was a time when today’s industrial wastelands employed most of America, and the railroad was the country’s lifeline.  “Look, it’s like you just walked into the 1950s,” said Steve [...]

Palmetto GBA: when a doctor’s notes are not readable

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We all know the joke: if you have poor penmanship, you should become a doctor.  Unfortunately, poor penmanship on patient notes and records can lead to claim denials, because if Medicare can’t read what the doctor wrote, we can’t know if the services were reasonable and necessary and meet all guidelines for coverage. Medicare requires [...]

Rail pensions may reduce supplemental annuities

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Railroad retirement beneficiaries are reminded that receipt of a private railroad pension may reduce the amount of a supplemental annuity payable by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The following questions and answers provide information on this subject, as well as how distributions from a 401(k) plan affect supplemental annuities, and whether railroad employee contributions to [...]

Medicare’s program integrity initiatives

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For many years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has funded programs to reduce claims payment errors (either paying too much, paying too little or payments being made when none should be).  Some of these programs are handled through systematic checks that look for anomalies and mismatched services, and some are handled through clinical [...]

DOL seeks nominations for ERISA Advisory Council

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is soliciting nominations to fill five, 3-year vacancies on the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council. The deadline to submit nominations is July 31. The 15-member council provides advice on policies and regulations affecting employee benefit [...]

RRB: new benefit year began July 1

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A new benefit year under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act began July 1, 2015. The maximum daily benefit rate payable for claims under this Act increases to $72 in the new benefit year. Benefits are normally paid for the number of days of unemployment or sickness over four in 14-day registration periods, so maximum benefits [...]

Applying for a Railroad Retirement annuity

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Railroad employees who are planning to retire should be aware of what steps to take and what documents are required when applying for an annuity from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Being prepared can prevent needless delays and ensure that payments from the RRB begin as soon as possible after retirement. The following questions and [...]