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Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman
Occupational Disability Annuity
(Posted January 15, 2004)
Question 363: I am 49 years old; I have been with the railroad since 1975 as an locomotive engineer. My last hearing test indicated that I have severe hearing loss. If I am not allowed to operate as as engineer because of this hearing loss, does this constitute total disability? I will not have 30 years service until November 2005.
Answer: You already meet the service requirements for an "Occupational Disability." That benefit is available only to rail workers who have a "Current Connection" and are disqualified from their regular railroad occupation due to being physically or mentally unable to perform the required duties.
Because you are under 60 and you already have more than 20 years of rail service credits, you should be found "occupationally disabled" by the RRB and therefore eligible for an annuity after a 5-month waiting period. (If you were already 60, you would need 10 years to qualify.)
If your employer disqualifies you from working as an engineer, you should immediately contact the RRB and file an application for benefits.
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