Comments from Tony Davis on the New, “Improved Disability Plan”
Tony Davis (No. 25 Huskers in ’74!) sent in additional comments on key points in the proposed NFLPA Disability Plan:
Not only does the NFLPA feed informaton to the Active players that is inaccurate. (You’ve heard Upshaw say that the benefits WE get come out of the pockets of Active players.) That is a lie and he knows it, although he can also say, “he meant that any moneys allocated for the Retired Players come out of the Active players’ share.” Again BS, because those same Pension allotments and the Disability Plan are all a negotiated settlement made by Upshaw in the last CBA and are for the Active Players as well. All this does not even take into account how Upshaw has the conventions separated for Active and Retired Players. (What is the reason for not having your experienced Retired Players at the same table as your Active Players?) This goes against all conventional wisdom and there are definitely reasons why Gene Upshaw and the NFLPA Board want to keep Active Players away from Retired Players. This culture of “Separation and False Dichotomy” has got to stop.
NOTE: In no other Sports Union does this exist.
The NFLPA will be sending Management Consultants to every NFL city as well as to the Alumni chapters. Here are the issues that need to be addressed with these Consultants and the NFLPA. This supposed “improvement” is full of holes. At some point, the issue of why we do not have a vote with regards to our Disability and Pensions from the Union that is paid to do so through the CBA, as well as through the former Players Inc. is unacceptable.
Now here are the new admendments with commentary following:
1) Players who took their NFL pension early – and were therefore ineligible to apply for and receive disability benefits – will be offered a new one-time opportunity to apply for total and permanent disability benefits. These players may establish their disability through either a medical examination or by a total and permanent disability determination from Social Security. The opportunity to apply for benefits will begin on April 1, 2008. Applications will only be accepted through July 31, 2008.
As I (and many other players) have stated before, any time limit on the establishment of a disability is unacceptable. Particularly in our sport where 10 to 20 years later, those damages begin to surface. We’ll also have to pay – out of our own pockets – to get an extensive examination, which won’t be cheap.
2) Players who have received a total and permanent disability determination from Social Security will not need to separately establish disability under the NFL plan. Players who were denied benefits under the NFL plan but have subsequently been found disabled by Social Security may have their NFL cases reconsidered. The other good news for retired NFL players is that NFL disability awards are not offset by the amount of any award paid by Social Security.
Smoke and mirrors. “Those who are found disabled by SS may have their cases reconsidered. “RECONSIDERED?!!” What does that say to you?
3) The time within which to apply for line of duty disability benefits has been lengthened from the current 48-month period to 48 months or the player’s actual number of credited seasons. For example, a 10-year veteran would have 10, rather than the previously locked-in four years, to apply for this benefit.
Again, more timelines. They know these injuries will not surface until much later; they’re counting on the players’ apathy. Time limits are also unacceptable.
4) Those improvements include:
Retaining a medical director to consult with the two-person initial claims committee.
Establishing physician “panels” or “teams,” consisting of doctors with experience in orthopedic and other practices. These teams will initially be located in areas where there is the largest concentration of retired players, including Arizona, California , Florida and Texas, as well as in major metropolitan areas in other states.
A major issue of contention with disability has been the choice of physicians that the NFLPA has picked and trained for their own benefit. The Doctors should be neutral and without any type of connection to the NFL or NFLPA. They should be approved by a Retired Players committee. Also a player should be able to go to a Doctor closest to him, not have to pay for travel expenses to and from another city plus lodging.
5) Extending the review period to reduce the number and frequency of continuation reviews for those applicants receiving total and permanent disability benefits by extending the current three-year maximum to at least five years.
Another timetable telling us we only have 5 years to become disabled. Are you kidding me? A player should be able to get a disability evaluation from the time he ends his career until his death. When my knees are finally too much for me to walk on and my spine is too painful to do nothing about – ALL BECAUSE OF FOOTBALL – I expect the right to an evaluation and disability and I don’t care how long it’s been.
6) Joint replacement surgery and rehabilitation.
It says those who qualify can get financial assistance. To the rest it will cost money. How much? What is that amount? What are the benchmarks to get financial assistance? Who pays for the travel, lodging of family, food, etc?