Chapter 5: Railroad Benefits

Retirement, survivor, disability, unemployment, and sickness insurance benefits for railroad employees and their families are administered by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), an independent Federal agency headquartered in Chicago. The term “Railroad Retirement Board” (RRB) refers both to the agency that administers the Federal benefits of railroad industry employees and to the 3-member governing board that oversees the agency.

The programs are governed by the Railroad Retirement Act and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. Railroad retirement came into existence in 1936 and was substantially modified by the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-445), which provided for closer coordination with the Social Security system. In the House of Representatives, jurisdiction over the Railroad Retirement and Unemployment Benefit Programs is divided between two standing committees. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has jurisdiction over legislation pertaining to “railroads… and railroad retirement and unemployment (except revenue measures related hereto).” The Subcommittee on Railroads of the committee has primary responsibility for the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) and amendments affecting railroad retirement. The Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over all revenue measures, including the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (chapter 22 of the Internal Revenue Code). Within the Committee on Ways and Means, jurisdiction over employment taxes and trust fund operations relating to the Railroad Retirement System lies within the Subcommittee on Social Security.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

For more programmatic information, please see reports published by the Congressional Research Service.

CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to Committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

Legislative History

There were no legislative changes to Railroad Benefit programs during the 115th Congress. For prior legislative history, please see prior editions of the Green Book.


This page was prepared November 2018 for the 2018 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.