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Railroad Retirement Board Hearing

Railroad Retirement Board Hearings are different from other disability hearings, such as Social Security and Veterans Compensation, because they are conducted by a Hearing Officer, not an administrative law judge.

What Happens at a Railroad Retirement Board Hearing?

The hearings are held by video with a Hearing Officer located in Chicago. The disabled worker and his or her attorney are in a location remote to the Hearing Officer. For example, we recently had a hearing at a conference center where they had a room fitted with video technology.

Because the hearing location is not controlled by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), it can vary in quality and appropriate surroundings. You may find, for example, that your venue is not private, and there may be windows onto hallways and lobbies that allow people on the outside to look in. You may also find that noise on the other side of the door and/or walls interferes with your ability to hear the Hearing Officer.

The Hearing Officer usually begins by asking you questions. The hearings can be quite long – often over an hour. Most of this time is usually the Hearing Officer asking questions. Your lawyer then may ask follow-up questions.

Role of the Vocational Expert

After you testify, the next witness is usually a vocational expert (VE). The VE testifies about the kinds of jobs a person can perform based on various assumptions. For example, the Hearing Officer may ask the VE to assume that a person is the same age, education and work history as you are, and then to assume additional limitations, such as the inability to stand and walk for more than four hours per eight hour work day, or the inability to sit more than fours hours in a work day.

After setting out all the assumptions in the hypothetical question, the VE is asked whether a person with those assumptions could perform their past work, or any other job. The answer to these questions depends on the assumptions given to the VE.

Read more about the role of the vocational expert. 

If you have any questions about Railroad Retirement Board disability, Contact our team or email us at

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