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Early Medicare Benefits for Disabled Rail Workers
(Posted January 26, 1999)
Question 15: Do disabled rail workers qualify for Medicare Benefits before Age 65 like disabled workers covered by Social Security?
Answer: If a railroad worker becomes disabled and qualifies for a disability annuity under Railroad Retirement, he or she may also be eligible for early Medicare coverage. In order to get Medicare, the disabled worker would have to meet the defination of disability in used in the Social Security program. The decision on Medicare would be made by the Railroad Retirement Board, and could also be reviewed and agreed to by Social Security, when the worker has siginifant earnings under both systems.
In the case of disability, Medicare coverage begins 2 year and five months after the worker becomes disabled.
Medicare benefits for disabled workers are identical to those for people 65 & older. Disabled widow(er)s under 65 also can qualify. If a person also has private or group health insurance benefits, they should notify the insurance company of their Medicare eligibility. It could mean a decrease in the cost of privat insurance since Medicare will now pay for some of the benefits. In 1999, even more options are available to Medicare beneficiaries. Contact the nearest Railroad Retirement Board office(see Question # 9) for the latest information.
Although Railroad Retirement provides occupational disability benefits in addition to benefits for total disability, workers who are awarded occupationa disability payments will also qualify for early Medicare when they can meet the stricter critera for total disability.
Robert S. Kaufman
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