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Unemployment benefits information for BLET members impacted by Sandy

CLEVELAND, November 1 — In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the BLET’s National Division is swinging into action to assist BLET members who have been impacted by the disaster.

The massive storm earlier this week negatively affected a huge portion of the nation, severely disrupting railroad operations, particularly on passenger and commuter lines in the Northeast. It is likely that work for many BLET members will continue to be unpredictable at least into next week.

Sandy’s impact may mean that some BLET members are eligible for unemployment benefits pursuant to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (“RUIA”), which are administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (“RRB”).

In order to qualify for unemployment benefits at the current time, a railroad employee must have creditable railroad earnings in calendar year 2011 of at least $3,325.00, counting only the first $1,330.00 in earnings in each month. Additionally, a new employee must have railroad service in at least five (5) months in 2011 in order to be eligible for RUIA benefits at this time.

The RUIA has a waiting period requirement, under which no benefits are payable for the first seven (7) days of unemployment in the first claim in a period of continuing unemployment, unless the individual has already served a waiting period since July 1. Once the waiting period has been satisfied, benefits are payable for each remaining day of unemployment in the first claim period. For example, if a member claims all fourteen (14) days in his or her first claim, they will be paid benefits for seven (7) days. The benefit rate is currently $66.00 per day.

A period of continuing unemployment means a period of time for which an employee file claims for unemployment benefits where (1) each claim has five (5) or more valid days of unemployment, and (2) each claim begins within fifteen (15) days after the previous claim ends. For example, claims for the 14-day periods beginning June 17 and July 15 are in the same period of continuing unemployment. The second claim starts within 15 days after June 30, the last day of the claim period beginning June 17. So benefits would be payable for lost work days over four (4) in the claim period beginning July 15.

If a member has at least 5, 6 or 7 days of unemployment in a 14-day period, he or she should file a claim for benefits. Even though no benefits would be payable if the claim is the first in the benefit year, the claim should be filed in order for the member to satisfy the waiting period requirement. This will become important if there is another period of unemployment between now and the end of next June. After the first claim, benefits will be paid for all days over four (4) for other claims in the benefit year, meaning that ten (10) days of unemployment benefits would be paid for every 14-day period of unemployment.

More information can be obtained from Railroad Retirement Board Form UB 10, which includes an Application for Unemployment Benefits and Employment Service.

Members also can obtain additional information on the RRB’s website, which is www.rrb.gov, and those who have lost work because of the storm can file their application and claims online at the RRB’s website at https://secure.rrb.gov/mep/ben_services.asp. To use online services the member must have a PIN and Password (PPW) account. The website explains how to open a PPW account.

National President Dennis R. Pierce urged BLET members to pull together in this time of urgent need. “Thousands and thousands of BLET members, their families, and the communities in which they live are facing the challenge of a lifetime right now,” Pierce said.

“Let us keep our Brothers and Sisters in our thoughts and prayers, and help them out in big ways and small. One concrete way we can do that is to put information in their hands that helps them claim benefits to which they may be entitled.”

The National Division also is closely monitoring disaster relief activities by the Teamsters Human Rights Commission and will provide information as details concerning those relief activities become available.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

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