Members should closely review 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 latter half of June. While the Board has made every effort to compile and keep current a file of the addresses of all active railroad employees, employees for whom compensation was reported in 1999, but who have not received a Form BA-6 by mid-July, 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 1999 compensation total, employees should be aware that only annual earnings up to $72,600 were creditable for railroad retirement purposes in that year, and that $72,600 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 1998, 1997 and 1996, when the creditable compensation maximums were $68,400, $65,400 and $62,700, respectively. In addition, the form identifies the rail employers reporting the employee's 1999 service and compensation.
Besides the months of service reported by rail 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.
In addition to regular compensation which generally yields service months credits, the form shows miscellaneous compensation, such as taxable sickness payments.
The Form BA-6 also shows 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.
For employees who received separation or severance payments, the form, in the section 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 employees with 120 months of service, 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."
An employee who receives Form BA-6 with an incorrect name, address, date of birth or social security number can have the information corrected by contacting the nearest Board field office. If there is a name difference, an employee should be aware that the form may not show his or her full surname if the surname exceeds 10 letters, "Junior" or "Senior" was used with the surname, or the employee first worked for a railroad in 1999. Employees may also contact a Board field office to request a detailed breakdown, by year, of all railroad service and compensation credited to them.
Employees can locate the nearest field office by visiting the Board's Web site at www.rrb.gov, looking in the telephone directory under "United States Government." In addition, a toll-free automated Help Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (800) 808-0772.
Any other discrepancies in Form BA-6 should be reported promptly in writing to: Protest Unit-ESTC, U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092. The employee must include his or her social security number in the letter. The 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.
© 2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers