Bob Stein: Legacy Benefit Information Update

Mar 22, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: We just received this update from Bob Stein on the Legacy Fund Benefits. This will be one of the discussion issues at our upcoming Conference April 20 – 22 in Las Vegas. Be sure to register HERE and book your rooms and flight.
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I continue to hear from retired player friends wondering about ongoing delays in Legacy Benefit payments or information from the NFL Player Retirement Plan. Last week, I finally reached an AON actuary working on the Legacy Benefit. While I can’t guarantee the absolute accuracy of the information I received, I wanted to pass it on in hopes it will be helpful.
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Here’s what I was told:
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1. Though basic agreement and public announcement occurred with the CBA conclusion in August, 2011, the Plan Document, with precise terms and details, is still not complete. Amendments are being finalized and the complete Plan Document is to be finished by the March 31 end of the current Plan year. The “Summary Plan Description” is not required to be published until 7 months later, though he said they would try to have it out sooner.
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So I did not get what I requested which was a copy of the basic rules governing our Legacy Benefit payments.
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2. Regarding increased monthly benefits for those electing to defer payment, I was told even if we are now over age 55, our basic benefit calculation ($124/year for seasons through 1974, $108 per year thereafter) does not increase unless we now choose to defer payments due us from August, 2011 on. Meaning there is no added benefit from being over 55. If we defer payment NOW, we will receive a “small percentage increase for each year delayed.” However, by law we must begin taking payments once we reach age 65.
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To make it more confusing, I was told the percentage increases for deferring Legacy Benefit payments will be different than the percentage increase factor for deferred pension payments. He did not know if increases would be more or less than for deferred pension payments.
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3. Timing of Plan Response
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I was told most responses went out before the Super Bowl, including to players electing a survivor benefit. However, some “special cases” like those involving divorces have not yet been addressed.
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4. Questions/Problems
.I was told the best source for information is the Player Retirement Plan office. Their phone numbers are: (800) 638-3186 or (410) 685-5069. Or you can mail them at: NFL Player Retirement Plan, 200 Saint Paul St, Ste. 2420, Baltimore, MD 21202-2008.
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Some ex-teammates have been waiting weeks or more for response from the Plan office. Apparently, all we can do is keep calling and writing. It’s been very frustrating. But I hope this information helps a little.
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Bob Stein
Kansas City Chiefs, LA Rams,
Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers
1969 – 1976
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15 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Joanie Hardy
    March 22nd, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    I called Cynthia Timpson a few weeks ago. Having worked in business offices before, I knew that the more calls received, the less work could be done. After hearing nothing by January, I then e-mailed LaSahay Rose. She replied that the QDROs would need to be reviewed; meaning the obvious and unhelpful information. In February, I em-ailed again with no response. I e-mailed once again in March with no response.

    I called and had a civil conversation with Cynthia Timpson. She informed me that they had just sent the information to the actuaries which they were required to do and she had heard that very day that it would be a couple of more weeks. This was on March 6th. I thanked her. In a couple of weeks, I called again. She said she didn’t remember talking to me at all! As I recalled the conversation, she continued to have no recollection. I became frustrated that I was required to recount the entire conversation to her with only impatience in reply. She hung up on me. I called back and asked for LaShay Rose and received her voicemail. I called back and asked for Sarah Blunt and received the typical game of ‘She’s not in the office.’

    So I finally called a gentleman I had communicated with a few years ago. He told me that they were only paper pushers and I needed to call the Players’ Union office – which I had been led to believe I was already doing. He gave me a phone number for the Players’ Union in D. C. I left them two messages and – to my amazement – he actually returned my call the very same day! He seemed tired and informed me that they had started with players that had straight-out pensions vs. those entailing QDROs, etc. Those had barely begun to be worked on. Having read the statistics on the divorce rate within the NFL, I can only assume they haven’t gotten far. (BTW – I forgot to mention that the first number I called said they couldn’t rule out that it could be another year!) It was interesting that when I called the ‘Benefits’ office where Timpson and Rose and Blunt worked, I was told I had to call… the Benefits Office! In contrast, the gentleman in D.C. was considerate and apologized for the disrespect shown thus far but had no information to share.

    I know ex-wives aren’t popular in this venue. But as one, if I’m having an issue regarding QDROs, so are an equal number of former players. While my former husband and I are on friendly terms, I’m well aware that many are not. I’m only another person who has a vested interest in the facts regarding the Legacy Fund. If businesses in general were operated under this standard, we’d be a third world country! Something I know a few would just love.

    Joanie Hardy

  2. Tessie Lee
    March 23rd, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Joanie,

    Thanks for the information – it was very helpful. As a ex-wife with a QDRO, I am feeling your frustration. Since August, I have received 2 letters. One was about a the disability increase and the other about annual summary report which I don’t really care about.

    So I’ve now received more information from you than the Benefits Office! They act like it’s a bother when you call. But that’s supposed to be their job to keep us informed. Now I would like to know who hired these rude women with no customer service skills because they’re probably reviewed annually with good increases. And all we want to know ‘Where’s our increase?’

    Thanks again, Joanie, for keeping us ex-wives informed.

    Tessie Lee

  3. Dave Costa
    March 23rd, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Dave Costa

    Joanie,

    I feel your pain. This situation not only affects players with QDRO’s but those of us on disability as well. No money, no information.

    This is the most information I’ve gotten so far. Thanks!

    Dave Costa
    Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills
    Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers
    1963 – 1974

  4. Joanie Hardy
    March 23rd, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Joanie Hardy

    My pleasure, Tessie. I only wish I could have gotten some real information.

    Yes, those women are rude. I’m not sure what they think they’re being paid to do – just show up? I’ve always thought it was because I’m an ex-wife. But that’s none of their concern. The courts decided what concerns them, not me.

    It’s absolutely amazing that no one knows what is going on or is it that they’re intentionally not informing us? I myself will be calling my attorney to see whether or not I have options other than calling the various Benefits Offices where only clueless people exist.

    Hope you are doing well, Tessie.

    Joanie

  5. Henrietta Watson
    March 24th, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Sid Watson

    Would someone – anyone – please answer my question! I am a widow receiving a check each month. Will I get an increase?? Or are widows excluded from consideration?

    Henrietta Watson
    widow Sid Watson (1932 – 2004)
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
    1955 – 1958

  6. Bob Stein
    March 24th, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Bob Stein

    Henrietta-

    When I spoke to them and asked on behalf of widows, I have consistently heard that the NFL and NFLPA did not include any increase or Legacy Benefit participation for current widows of retired players. Sadly, that is what we get in a “negotiation” when no one who claims to represent us is accountable to us or has our interests at heart beyond just something for them to claim credit for doing.

    I’m sorry to say that this is apparently the answer to your question.

    Bob Stein
    Kansas City Chiefs, LA Rams,
    Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers
    1969 – 1976

  7. Joanie Hardy
    March 24th, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    You’re welcome, Mr. Costa.

    It’s so sad that the answer – there IS no answer – is more than the NFLPA could provide its pensioners. I’m sorry that you require disability. I’m sorry that the NFLPA is so incompetent that they add to retired players’ problems rather than assist them as the NFLPA so grandly continues to claim to do all while they receive big money for their pitiful performance and representation.

    Joanie Hardy

  8. Wayne Clark
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Wayne Clark

    Mr. Stein,

    In Article 57 of the CBA, it states,

    “Effective August 4, 2011, the NFL shall establish a benefit known as the ‘Legacy Benefit.’… The parties will jointly determine no later than fourteen days after the effective date of this Agreement, the amount of the additional benefit to be provided under the Legacy Benefit and to whom it will be provided…”

    Is this “fourteen days” deadline an enforceable provision or just a “suggestion”? Are all provisions of this CBA equally enforceable? (If NFL clubs had decided to continue the lock-out in violation of this CBA, would the NFLPA have backed off and said, “OK, we’ll let you do that and we’ll eventually get around to reaching an agreement.” Or if the NFLPA had decided to strike in violation of this CBA, can you imagine the NFL stepping back and saying, “Whatever. When you’re ready to work, let us know.”)

    If these are enforceable provisions of the CBA, would there have to have been some agreement in writing between the parties to extend this deadline? Would any such agreement to extend the deadline have to have occurred before the deadline was reached? If so, are those on record and available for retired players to see? Is the NFLPA under any obligation to its dues-paying former players to inform them of any such agreement with the NFL?

    Thanks for all you and Dave Pear do for the ex-players and others with an interest in our benefits.

    Wayne Clark
    San Diego Chargers ’70 -’73
    Cincinnati Bengals ’74
    Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs ’75

  9. Tessie Lee
    March 31st, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    Good Morning, Joanie,

    Got home from work yesterday after working a 52-hour week. Excited to see the mail thinking maybe it would be good news in my monthly deposit statement from the NFL!

    Guess what? No increase – same amount I’ve been receiving since 1999.

    But I AM paying $4.09 for a gallon of gas. Gas keeps rising along with everything else but the checks remain the same. Just wanted to vent.

    Hope all is well.

    Tessie Lee

  10. Gregg Bingham
    April 5th, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Greg Bingham

    Tessie –

    It is with great regret that I tell you ( warning ) that after looking into my crystal ball… In the future $4.09 a gallon will look cheap and a bargain. What would you do if the world went on a printing spree and just printed money willy-nilly as much as they wanted to in order to pay for all their mis-deeds? The oil-producing nations want more of the toilet paper the globe has been printing so they can go to each country`s stock market and buy up that country`s assets ( via the stock market there). So they can get something tangible in return for their tangible oil. Nobody can blame them as we’d all do the same thing.

    It’s really complicated but suffice to say we will be paying $20 dollars for a Big Mac (one of my price bellwethers) along with everything else soon in the future.

    There’s a solution but the politicians refuse to go there…its called BALANCE THE BUDGET and quit spending money like a drunken sailor! I’ve been paying a dime a gallon for years and will do so the rest of my life and I can tell you how to lock in at today`s prices if you want. All you have to do is ask.

    Gregg Bingham
    Houston Oilers
    1973 – 1984

  11. Eric Volk
    April 12th, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Purdue Boilermakers

    Gregg –

    I’ve followed your career since Purdue where my older brother was a walk-on two years behind you on the ‘hamburger squad.’ We met a few years ago when my brother let me tag along to a Purdue football reunion. I played baseball for the Boilers from 1981 through 1985.

    I’d love to hear about your oil/gas strategy.

    Boiler-Up!

    Eric Volk

  12. Bob Stein
    April 18th, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Bob Stein

    To Wayne Clark –

    Your point about the CBA timeline for Legacy Benefit determinations not being enforced is appropriate. I don’t know the NFL or NFLPA’s answer but I know it’s another perfect example of how we retired players had no real representation in CBA negotiations and now it’s the same in enforcing CBA provisions.

    Bob Stein

  13. Henrietta Watson
    April 24th, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Sid Watson

    I have been following what has been happening and so far, it is all talk.

    It is discrimination. Injured players, older players and widows
    have been discriminated against.

    But so far, no one has charged anyone with discrimination.

    Henrietta Watson
    widow Sid Watson (1932 – 2004)
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
    1955 – 1958

  14. Henry Bradley
    April 24th, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Henry Bradley

    The Legacy Fund we’re waiting on is being held up because they’re not really going to give it to us. They are trying to delay the process and find a good excuse not to give us what belongs to us. Retired players, it is time for us to get beyond being angry and do something about it! If a dog craps on your lawn every day and you do nothing to prevent it — that dog will continue to crap on your lawn. It’s time to confront the owner!!!

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  15. Joanie Hardy
    April 28th, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    I’m starting to see it your way, Henry. I e-mailed Ms. Rose again this month and she said the same thing. Basically: ‘When they get to it, they’ll get to it.’ If they aren’t required to abide by the 14-day term that was THEIR choice, then are they required to abide by any of it? I don’t care for neighbors taking their dogs on walks in my yard.

    It irks me that Smith got his million dollar bonus right off the top before administering the CBA. Now exactly what did he do for that money? I mean, I’m aware that he’s friends with Eric Holder and he may have gotten the wrong impression that laws and contracts exist only to be ignored. But I was hoping for much more from him – another disappointment.

    Those ladies at the ‘benefits office’ are just a front. They act like it’s their money that we are inquiring about. They aren’t even capable of sending a letter out to us to let us know that they are working on the fourteen-day term. How dare we expect them to do anything? And if they’re the work horses and it’s others who aren’t doing their jobs, then what? I’m calling my attorney on Monday to see whether or not there are remedial options available to me.

    And I wouldn’t mind paying a dime for a gallon of gas, Mr. Bingham!

    Joanie Hardy