The U.S. Supreme Court is looking at a disability benefits case that could affect parties who want the federal courts to review refusals by federal administrative law bodies to reopen old hearing officer decisions.
The court has scheduled oral arguments on the case, Salinas v. U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (Case Number 19-199), for Nov. 2.
- Links to Salinas v. U.S. Railroad Retirement Board resources are available here.
- An earlier article about rail worker disability cases is available here.
The petitioner in the case, Manfredo Salinas, was hurt on the job while working for Union Pacific Railroad. He’s asking the federal courts to review the Railroad Retirement Board’s refusal to consider his request for the board to reopen his disability benefits case.
The lawyers in the cases have not suggested that the case could affect other agencies’ administrative law systems, but many other agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, have their own hearings and hearing officers. It’s possible that the Supreme Court could use the Salinas case to develop ideas that will come up in other types of administrative body decision appeal cases.
Railroad Workers’ Disability Benefits
Railroad workers are part of a benefits program that was created by the Railroad Retirement Act of 1937 and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act of 1938, and administered by the Railroad Retirement Board.
The program provides disability benefits, through a disability annuity, as well as retirement benefits.
The railroad benefits rules are similar to, but slightly different from, the rules governing how the Social Security Administration handles the Social Security disability insurance claims.
Federal law provides that railroad workers can turn to the federal courts for review of final decisions made by the Railroad Retirement Board.
Salinas applied for disability benefits in 1992. The board said Salinas could still work denied his claim.
Salinas applied a second time in 2006, and the board denied the second claim.
Salinas that applied a third time, in 2013. This time, the board found that he was old enough to receive retirement benefits, but not to receive retroactive disability benefits.