Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens To My Membership If I Become Expelled?
If you are “Held Out of Service” for an occurrence during the expelled period, you would not be eligible to receive benefits for an otherwise valid claim. Furthermore, the longer you wait to reinstate, the more in back dues you would need to submit to retain benefits accrued prior to expulsion. It should be understood that although back dues are required to reinstate, NO benefits are payable during the expelled period.
Refer to Article VIII of the BR&CF Constitution, which addresses reinstatement to membership after expulsion. If you still have questions after reviewing Article VIII, you are encouraged to contact us.
May I Correspond With The BR&CF Via E-Mail?
We welcome your general e-mail messages and make an attempt to respond to all of them. However, we cannot ensure that your e-mail will be received by the BR&CF officer or employee intended, due to the high level of SPAM e-mail that requires filtering. The filtering process is automatically performed by our software.
Our practice is to acknowledge receipt of all member correspondence. If you choose to correspond with us via e-mail, you should note that it is not a guaranteed method of communication. If you don’t receive a response from us, please follow up with a telephone call or letter.
When sending us an e-mail, it is important that you include your full name and member number (located above your name on the address label of mailings).
If I Am Not In Active Service And Elect To Place My Membership In A Complete Relief Of Dues As Per Article XVIII, Section 1 (Of The BR&CF Constitution), Will I Continue To Have The AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment) Coverage?
The AD&D benefit is while on active railroad duty only.
If I Accept An Offer Of Discipline Following A Violation And Waive A Formal Investigation, How Will My “Held Out Of Service” Benefits Be Affected?
In many cases, members elect to sign waivers accepting discipline offered by the railroad in the hope of receiving a lesser amount of discipline. You will receive “Held Out of Service” benefits for eligible occurrences, however you should be aware that “Held Out of Service” benefits, as defined in the BR&CF Constitution, shall not exceed 180 days if you elect to sign a waiver. Refer to Article XIII, Sec. 7, of the BR&CF Constitution if you should be offered a waiver.
I’m Currently Being “Held Out Of Service” Pending Investigation. When Should I Expect To Receive My “Held Out Of Service” Benefits?
As a rule of thumb, we process requests immediately following receipt of all of the required documentation, which includes the Application for “Held Out of Service” benefits, Official Notice of Investigation, Official Notice of Discipline, copy of the Transcript of Investigation or a copy of the signed waiver. When applicable, we may also accept a Notice of FRA Revocation (not to be confused with a Notice of FRA Suspension).
Please note that we cannot process your request for “Held out of Service” benefits prior to actual discipline being assessed, which occurs after the formal investigation or upon signing a “Waiver” accepting discipline. Once a request for membership benefits is approved we electronically deposit your benefits to your checking or savings account at midnight that same day.
My Employer Participates In The BR&CF’s Payroll Deduction Plan. If I Elect To Have My Dues Payment Automatically Deducted From My Paycheck, How Long Will It Take For My Increase To Become Effective?
The funds are withheld from your paycheck by the railroad on the second pay period in “Month 1.” The BR&CF receives the funds from the railroad during “Month 2.” Your membership increase will become effective on the first day of “Month 3.”
You can eliminate this two-month processing period by submitting payment for the interim period with your properly completed and signed increase application. You may call the Principal Office for assistance in determining the proper amount to submit.
Keep in mind that if you work on the UP or CSX Railroads, you may elect to have the deduction handled on a monthly, semi-annual or annual basis. Other railroads handle the deductions on a monthly basis only.
The BR&CF also offers a “pre-authorized checking” method of dues payment. If you would like to have the funds withdrawn directly from your personal checking account through our Dues-O-Matic program, withdrawals may be set up for the 5th, 15th or 25th of the month on a monthly, semi-annual or annual basis.
This requires submission of an authorization form (which may be downloaded from our website by clicking here or obtained by contacting our office), along with a voided check from that account. You should contact our office to determine the correct amount of dues to submit with your application, thus ensuring that the increase will become effective upon receipt of your properly completed and signed application.
I Received Benefits From The BR&CF While I Was “Held Out Of Service” Due To Discipline. I Have Just Received A Favorable Award Through My Grievance Process. Am I Now Required To Repay The Benefits That I Received From The BR&CF?
No, the BR&CF provides benefits while a member is “Held Out of Service.” We are not an insurance against wage loss. Regardless of a favorable outcome through the grievance process, benefits deemed eligible belong to the member. There is no requirement to reimburse the Fund.
Should a member maintain a daily benefit level of $100 per day, receive maximum benefits of 365 days and receive a favorable award from a board, there would be no need to return the $36,500 in benefits to the BR&CF.
Is It True That The BR&CF Offers A One-Time Retirement Benefit To Its Members?
Article XIV in the BR&CF Constitution speaks to the issue of a one-time benefit for “Retirement.” In order to be eligible to receive this benefit, a member must be “In Good and Regular Standing,” and must have a continuous beneficial membership of ten years or more upon attaining the age of fifty-five years or more.
Retirement benefits will be $500 for ten years of continuous beneficial membership with an additional $50 for each succeeding twelve month period in which the member maintained “Good and Regular Standing.”
Refer to Article XIV in your Constitution for more details.
How Does The BR&CF Deal With Deferred Suspension?
It is always best for a member to submit all information received from the carrier which may result in time “Held Out of Service” as discipline.
Should a second incident occur which activates a period of discipline previously deferred, we will require the information associated with the first incident as well as the second incident prior to providing benefit payment. Note: It is important to sign the forms where applicable.
How Would I Obtain The Necessary Forms To Submit To The BR&CF If I Should Be “Held Out Of Service” Or If I Want To Authorize Deduction Of My Dues From My Paycheck?
Visit our BR&CF website at www.brcf.org. On the Forms page, you will find a listing of forms available to our members, including the Application for “Held Out of Service” benefits and the Payroll Deduction Authorization forms. You may print the necessary form, complete it and mail it to our office. Forms can also be obtained by contacting our office via phone or e-mail. When e-mailing us, be sure to provide your full name and member number.
When Must My Dues Payment Be Received In The BR&CF Office?
Your dues payment needs to be paid in advance, being received in the BR&CF office before or during the preceding calendar month. Example: Your February 2015 dues payment should be received in the home office on or before January 30, 2015, the last business day of January.
Are My BR&CF Benefits Taxable?
Members frequently telephone the Principal Office for information regarding taxes. We can provide general information that would be helpful to you and to tax advisers; however, the home office staff is not permitted to give specific income tax advice. You should consult your tax adviser or an IRS information center concerning the proper reporting of benefits that you receive from the BR&CF.
Helpful Information for You and Your Tax Adviser:
The BR&CF is NOT an insurance company. Be sure to make your tax preparer aware of this important distinction at tax time.
Members pay dues, not insurance premiums. The BR&CF is a nonprofit job income protection organization.
The FORM 1099-MISC is issued to all members who received benefits of $600 or more during the previous calendar year.
If you received benefits, it may be to your advantage to contact our office regarding dues payment information that your tax adviser will need in order to properly complete your tax return.
Refer to IRS Publication 525 (2016) Miscellaneous Income, Unemployment Benefits “Private unemployment fund” on page 27.
If I Am Not Working For A Complete Calendar Month, Must I Continue To Pay BR&CF Dues?
No. For reasons other than being “Held Out of Service,” the Constitution provides for complete relief or partial relief from dues when a member is not working as a result of sickness, injury, military service, or being furloughed.
Complete relief requires no dues payment at all but, likewise, all benefits remain dormant until the membership is reactivated.
Partial Relief from dues requires the minimum dues payment of $3.80 monthly or $45.60 annually. It allows the member to accrue additional time toward the retirement benefit. Refer to Article XVIII, Sections 1 and 2.
Is There A Discount For Semi-Annual And Annual Payments?
No. Discounts will be discontinued in favor of everyone receiving the lowest possible monthly membership dues rate.
When Does My Application Become Effective?
New applications receive the first two months of membership free. For example, an application for NEW membership received and approved in our office in February will become effective on the first day of March with no cost for March and April. Dues received in the principal office by the method chosen by the applicant will be applied to May and thereafter in accordance with the provisions of Article VII.
Increase applications are effective on the first day of the following month based upon receipt of dues.
I Have Heard That The BR&CF Is A BLET Associate. Is There Any Truth To This?
The BR&CF enjoys a very good relationship with all organized labor. Currently our membership is comprised of approximately 40% BLET, 48% UTU, and 12% other rail unions.
One of the factors that come into play is that when the BLET discontinued its job benefit program, it was determined that the BR&CF provided the best product for the least cost. As a result, many of those who held BLE job income protection came into the BR&CF in 1980.
At the present time, the UTU has its own program and, consequently, many of their members purchase job income protection through the union.
The BR&CF is an advocate of organized rail labor and union affiliation is a requirement for new membership.