RRB issuing statements of service, form 'BA-6'

Each year, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board prepares a "Certificate of Service Months and Compensation" (Form BA-6) for every railroad employee who received creditable railroad compensation in the previous calendar year. The forms will be mailed to employees by the Board during the first half of June. While every effort has been made to compile and keep current the addresses of all active railroad employees, employees for whom compensation was reported in 2005, but who have not received Form BA-6 by July 1, or need a replacement, should contact the nearest Board field office.

Form BA-6 provides employees with a record of their railroad retirement service and compensation. While the form has no cash value, the information shown is used to determine whether an employee qualifies for benefits and the amount of those benefits.

It is important that employees review their Form BA-6 to see whether their own records of service months and creditable compensation agree with the figures shown on the form. In checking the 2005 compensation total, employees should be aware that only annual earnings up to $90,000 were creditable for railroad retirement purposes in that year, and that $90,000 is the maximum amount shown on the form. To assist employees in reviewing their service credits, the form also shows service credited on a month-by-month basis for 2004, 2003, and 2002, when the creditable compensation maximums were $87,900, $87,000, and $84,900, respectively. In addition, the form identifies the employers reporting the employee's 2005 service and compensation.

Besides the months of service reported by employers, Form BA-6 shows the number of any additional service months deemed by the Board. Deemed service months may be credited under certain conditions for an employee who did not work in all 12 months of the year, but had creditable tier II earnings exceeding monthly prorations of the creditable tier II earnings maximum for the year. However, the total of reported and deemed service months may never exceed 12 in a calendar year; and no service months, reported or deemed, can be credited after retirement, severance, resignation, discharge, or death.

Form BA-6 also shows the number of months of verified military service creditable as service under the Railroad Retirement Act, if the service was previously reported to the Board. Employees are encouraged to submit proofs of age and/or military service in advance of their actual retirement. Filing these proofs with the Board in advance will streamline the benefit application process and prevent payment delays.

For employees who received separation or severance payments, the section of the form designated "Taxable Amount" shows the amounts of any separation allowance or severance payments that were subject to railroad retirement tier II taxes. This information is shown on the form because a lump sum, approximating part or all of the tier II taxes deducted from such payments made after 1984 which did not provide additional tier II credits, may be payable by the Board upon retirement to qualified employees or to survivors if the employee dies before retirement. The amount of an allowance included in an employee's regular compensation is shown under "Compensation Amount."

Form BA-6 also shows, in the section designated "Employee Contributions," the cumulative amount of tier II railroad retirement payroll taxes paid by the employee over and above tier I social security equivalent payroll taxes. While the Board does not collect or maintain payroll tax information, the Board computes this amount from its compensation records in order to advise retired employees of their payroll tax contributions for Federal income tax purposes.

Employees should check their name, address, social security number, birth date and sex shown at the top of the form. In order to protect privacy, only the last four digits of an employee's social security number are shown. If only the first four or five letters of the employee's surname are shown, his or her birth date shows as 99-99, and the sex code shows as U(nknown), it means the Board is verifying his or her social security number with the Social Security Administration. Otherwise, if the personal identifying information is incorrect or incomplete (generally cases where the employee's surname has more than 10 letters and the form shows only the first 10 letters) or the address is not correct, the employee should contact the nearest Board field office. The field office can then correct the Board's records.

This is important in order to prevent identity or security-related problems that could arise if the employee wants to use certain Internet services available on the Board's Web site.

Employees can request that printouts of their individual railroad retirement records of service months and compensation be mailed to them. A PIN/Password is not required to use this service. It can be accessed simply by visiting the Board's Web site at www.rrb.gov, clicking on "Benefit Online Services (MainLine)," and selecting the "Request Service & Compensation History" option.

Employees may also view their railroad retirement service and compensation records, get estimates of their future annuities, apply for, as well as claim, railroad unemployment benefits, and access their individual railroad unemployment insurance account statements, through the Board's Web site. However, to use these additional online services, an employee must first get a PIN/Password and then establish an RRB Internet Services account. To do this, employees can click on "Benefit Online Services (MainLine)" and then click on the "Create an account" link for directions on establishing an RRB Internet Services account. At that time, to ensure security, they must apply for a Password Request Code, which they will receive by mail in about 7 to 10 days.

If the employee's name was incomplete on Form BA-6, and he or she has not yet contacted a Board field office to correct it, the employee should enter his or her first and middle initials and his or her surname just as it appears on the Form BA-6 or a previously furnished printout of service and compensation, along with the other requested information.

For most employees, the address and phone number of the Board office serving their area are provided on the form. Addresses and phone numbers for all Board offices are available by calling the RRB Help Line at (800) 808-0772 or by checking www.rrb.gov. Most Board offices are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays.

Any other discrepancies in Form BA-6 should be reported promptly in writing to: Protest Unit-CESC, U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092. The employees must include their social security number in the letter. Form BA-6 also explains what other documentation and information should be provided. The law limits to four years the period during which corrections can be made.



© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen