DI 44005.001 Background on Joint Freeze Cases
A joint freeze disability determination is defined as a disability claim processed
jointly by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and SSA where there is some likelihood
of Social Security benefits being paid or cases included in the financial interchange
(FI) sample. RRB prepares the disability freeze determination and SSA reviews and
countersigns the decision.
A joint freeze case originates as a claim for a disability annuity filed with the RRB by a career railroad (RR) worker. An application for a disability annuity filed with
RRB is also deemed an application for a period of “disability freeze” with SSA.
All joint freeze cases are processed by the Great Lakes Program Service Center-Disability
Processing Branch (GLPSC-DPB).
An application filed with RRB is not deemed an application for cash disability insurance benefits (DIB) with SSA, nor
does it protect the filing date for a DIB claim with SSA unless the claimant specifically
requests this protection on the RRB application.
Joint freeze cases are received and processed as paper folders.
RRB prepares a joint freeze SSA-831 (Disability Determination and Transmittal), allowing
or denying the freeze, if RRB awarded a disability annuity under section 2(a)4 or
2(a)5 of the Railroad Retirement Act and any of the following conditions exist:
The employee does not have a current connection with the railroad industry, but has
at least one wage quarter of coverage (QC). The criteria for establishing a current
connection is located in RS 01601.100.
NOTE: Only RRB can make the decision on whether an employee has a current connection.
The employee has sufficient QCs to be eligible for a Retirement Insurance Benefit
(RIB) as of the alleged quarter of disability.
SSA reports wages of over $5000 but does not furnish a breakdown of wage quarters.
The case is included in the financial interchange sample. The sample consists of employees,
widows, and children in the following cases:
Cases where the RR claim number is A-979832 or lower (assigned before 1964) and the
last two digits of the RR claim number are 55.
Cases where the RR claim number is higher than A-979832 (including nine-digit claim
numbers) and the last two digits of the SSA account number are 30.
The cases requiring joint determinations are prepared by the RRB and reviewed by the