And Apparently DICC Can’t Read Either…

Sep 24, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: We just received an update from disability attorney John Hogan on another of his recent disability applications on behalf of another retired football player. He also included a copy of the Disability Board’s short 3-page boilerplate ruling.

Attached is a recent decision I received from the Bell/Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan’s Disability Initial Claims Committee (DICC) finding that a former player was entitled to Inactive Benefits. (It was filed prior to Sept. 1st, so the new CBA rules do not apply and we are seeking Football Degenerative benefits.)
Most of the three-page decision is boiler-plate but one lonely sentence states, “The Committee determined that the Inactive category is appropriate because it found that your disabling condition did not arise out of League football activities.”
My client was recently found disabled by Social Security, with an onset date within 15 years of his last credited season – so he is potentially eligible for football degenerative benefits. The Judge who heard his case found that he had a myriad of severe medical conditions which I believe are all clearly football-related: spondylosis, radiculopathy, status-post lumbar laminectomy with fusion, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, post-concussive syndrome, major depressive disorder, sciatica, cephalgia and decrease in IQ due to organic brain syndrome. (So that you don’t have to run to a medical dictionary, it boils down to multiple orthopedic problems and headaches, depression and loss of IQ due to concussions.)
When I sent the decision to the Plan office, I enclosed his entire Social Security file which was at least 1000 pages. (I had to ship it in a box due to its size!) There is absolutely no way in the world that the two members of the DICC actually read the entire file! (The decision was issued only two-and-a-half weeks after it was received!)
This is yet another total failure of the Plan’s fiduciary duty owed to retired players! At a bare minimum, the decision should discuss the evidence presented and explain which impairments were determined to be non-football, so that the player is on proper notice as to how he can “perfect” his case on appeal.
It is upsetting to me anytime someone charged with such an important duty fails to meet their obligations – but it is particularly appalling to me that obviously the DICC member appointed by the Players’ Association was a party to this debacle.
De Smith: Do you have any idea (or do you even care) how poorly former players are treated – despite the Plan’s clearly spelled-out duty of skill and care in the handling of these claims?
Nolan Harrison III: I guess retired players are part of “one team, one locker room” – until they are disabled as a result of their NFL career?
Dave, you guys all deserve much, much better!
Best regards,
John Hogan
Social Security & Disability Attorney
Retired Football Players Advocate
We uploaded a copy of the  3-page letter from the Disability Initial Claims Committee (DICC) to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the center of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close):
NFL/NFLPA DICC Decision Sept 16 2011

4 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    September 24th, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Dave & Heidi.jpg

    John, as you’re well aware, in my case I was rated over 80% disabled in 1995 by the NFL’s own Dr. Unger and he wrote in his report, “No excessive standing, no bending and no lifting over 7 to 15 pounds; must be able to rest frequently.” I was told to go get a sedentary job and I was denied Total & Permanent Disability at the age of 42. The NFL’s Unger also wrote, “This patient is markedly incapacitated from both the cervical and lumbar areas, all of which were secondary to injuries sustained while playing professional football.”

    Back in 1983, I applied for the Line of Duty Disability and the NFL’s own Dr Becker rated me 50 to 59% disabled which met the qualification for this benefit and I was denied back then.

    Yet in 2004, I qualified for Social Security Disability the first time around with my wife as my advocate.

    But in 2008, when I applied for Total & Permanent Degenerative Disability (again) I was denied and Dave Duerson was a voting member on the Disability Board at the time. Now they’re saying he was probably already having cognitive issues and not qualified to make such determinations so then they add that his vote didn’t really matter anyway (?).

    I still want my case re-opened but this time I want ALL the facts made public so everyone can see what a scam the Bell/Rozelle disability plan really is. Nobody on the board is qualified. NOBODY! This disability debacle was designed, created – and managed – solely by The Groom Law Group. The NFLPA has already been found guilty in federal court in the Players Inc. trial for “breach of fiduciary duty” and they are also clearly guilty of this same offense with their fraudulent disability plan.

    Clearly the NFLPA has only been deemed a Union because they call themselves one by name only. No other Union is run like this anywhere in the United States or even in the worst dictatorships in the world for that matter. Only a US Department of Labor audit of the NFLPA and the Bell/Rozelle Disability Board would expose a long pattern of violating ERISA law and denying most valid disability claims for decades. Perhaps all of us retired players should simply do the same thing and openly declare ourselves a Union?

    Let’s continue to ask: When will this fraud cease?

    Dave & Heidi Pear
    NFL 1975-1980
    Pro Bowl 1978
    Super Bowl XV
    Social Security Disability at the age of 51

  2. Joe Steed
    September 26th, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Joe Steed

    Sunlight is always the best sanitation! Talk in the public square – let the public decide!

    Joe Steed
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1992 – 1999

  3. George Visger
    October 4th, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    George Visger

    Let me get this straight: We have an injured employee who qualifies for Social Security Disability, is rated at 80% disabled by his very own industry’s medical review panel and then the final disability decision is made by WHO…???

    Again folks, please bear with me. I’m afraid the side effects from my 9 NFL industry-caused brain surgeries may be interfering with my ability to assimilate all the data presented.

    Hey, maybe I should sit on the panel! If brain damage is a prerequisite to deciding the fate of injured employees, I’m more than qualified.

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers 1980 & 1981
    Super Bowl XVI
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  4. Leo Derosia
    October 4th, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Wow, you guys really get screwed by NFLPA – one would think it would be just the opposite. Human selfishness can be appalling.

    Leo Derosia
    New Hampshire