RRB update: 9,000 rail workers impacted by Katrina

(Editor's Note: V.M. Speakman Jr., Labor member of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, issued the following letter on September 2.)

Many railroad workers have been laid off because of Hurricane Katrina and need to file applications for unemployment benefits with the Railroad Retirement Board.

Ordinarily, applications for unemployment benefits should be mailed to the claimant's local RRB office. However, since the RRB's office in New Orleans is closed due to the hurricane, work performed by this office has been diverted to other RRB offices. Work pertaining to unemployment or sickness benefits has been diverted to the RRB's office in Fort Worth, Texas. The address and phone number of that office are as follows: 819 Taylor Street, Room 10G02, P.O. Box 17420, 76102-0420, (817) 978-2638. However, unemployed railroad workers may contact any field office of the RRB that is close to them for assistance or information. The addresses and phone numbers of the other offices closest to the areas affected by the hurricane are:

Unemployed railroad workers may want to consider filing their applications for unemployment benefits - or their biweekly claims for those benefits - online. To do so, claimants should go to the RRB's Web site at www.rrb.gov and click on "MainLine Services" for directions on establishing an RRB Internet Services account. Once they establish their online accounts, they will be able to file their applications and claims for unemployment benefits, as well as conduct other business with the RRB, over the Internet.

Regarding claimants in the affected areas who have been receiving railroad unemployment or sickness benefits, those on Direct Deposit should be able to access their funds. However, checks for unemployment and sickness benefits (along with checks for retirement and survivor benefits) cannot presently be delivered by the Postal Service to the affected areas. In order to expedite receipt of payments, the RRB will, upon contact by an individual due payment, request the Treasury Department to reissue these payments to a new address provided by the affected party. The RRB also has information about some temporary locations where checks can be picked up.

The RRB is providing information on its Web site, through its toll-free Help Line number (1-800-808-0772), and through public service announcements regarding actions that can be taken to obtain needed services. In addition, persons can go to the U.S. Postal Service's Web site (www.usps.com) and click on the Hurricane Katrina Service Updates button to see the latest information on delivery to affected areas.

There are about 9,000 active railroad workers residing in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen