Legacy Benefits for Widows and Survivors One Year Later

Jul 16, 2012

NFL, NFLPA Agree on Full Funding of Legacy Benefits for Eligible Widows and Survivors of Pre-1993 Players

The NFL and NFL Players Association have reached an agreement to extend the collective bargaining agreement’s new Legacy benefits to approximately 330 widows and other survivors of eligible pre-1993 players, the NFL and NFLPA announced jointly today.
Each of the eligible beneficiaries will receive an increase in the amount they were receiving as of the effective date of the CBA. The benefit will be retroactive to August 1, 2011, which was the same effective date for the Legacy benefit for eligible pre-1993 players.
The funding of the benefit will be split on the same basis as the funding for the other beneficiaries of the Legacy Fund – 51 percent paid by the NFL and 49 percent by the NFLPA.
Widows and survivors qualifying for this benefit will begin receiving their retroactive checks within the next two weeks. They will begin receiving their monthly benefits beginning August 1.

24 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Joe Steed
    July 16th, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Joe Steed

    The concussion lawsuits will be the “lead blocking” for legacy players for better outcomes. We have to watch the lawyers. There are great lawyers with integrity and who are “fighting the good fight” and then there are scumbags who will sell out their retired NFL client for a bribe.

    I hope we have a majority of great lawyers. I believe we do.

    Joe Steed
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1992 – 1999

  2. Henrietta Watson
    July 17th, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    Sid Watson

    Dave, Thanks for the update. You helped give a voice to so many and it is appreciated.

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

  3. Rena Je, Esq.
    July 17th, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Rena Je

    I think this is a great win for the players and their beneficiaries.

    I recently wrote an article on disability claims (mostly focused on head concussions) under the Bert Bell Retirement Plan.

    Rena Je, Esq.

  4. Tessie Lee
    July 17th, 2012 at 8:04 am #


    That is great news for the widows. But if they receive a check in 2 weeks, I would be surprised. No, pardon me – shocked! So they’re taking 2 weeks to figure it out. Whereas I have a QDRO and it’s coming upon 365 days and have yet to see an increase.

    Tessie Lee

  5. Marilyn Bishop
    July 17th, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Bill Bishop

    Thank you.

    Marilyn Bishop
    widow Bill Bishop (1931 – 1998)
    Chicago Bears 1952 – 1961
    Minnesota Vikings 1962

  6. Joanie Hardy
    July 17th, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    Tessie –

    I was suspicious about the letter from a couple of months ago that stated ‘apparently’ 85% of pre-retirees’ Legacy Benefits had been processed, with 6% who had not responded. Why use the word ‘apparently’ unless you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about and know it! If it were true, then you and I wouldn’t be still waiting. Do you think it has anything to do with having written on this blog? As we all know, some of those very busy ladies at the benefits office have been able to squeeze some time in to catch up on the latest news here on this blog. Was it Jeff Nixon who wrote that letter and who was deliberately misleading us?

    Even the Federal Government is demonstratively quicker than this union. THAT is sad. AND those workers don’t make the amount of money these NFL and union ‘representatives’ make. They’re so full of themselves and incredibly unethical.

    Joanie Hardy

  7. Henrietta Watson
    July 18th, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Sid Watson

    I just spoke with Cynthia at the benefits office. She was very helpful.

    I also received a letter telling me that I would be receiving an increase, the
    amount of the increase plus a retroactive payment for last year.

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

  8. Joanie Hardy
    July 18th, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    That’s great to hear!

    Joanie Hardy

  9. Henrietta Watson
    July 21st, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    Sid Watson

    To update what has happened with my widow’s benefit: The retroactive amount
    was just deposited into my checking account yesterday and so I have no reason
    to doubt that my increased amount will be deposited along with my regular
    monthly amount starting August 1, as reported to me.

    The amount is NOT $124 per month for each year played but rather is based on
    an actuarial table and then reduced by over 50%! So the actual amount is $49 and some odd cents per month for each year played.

    I’m not turning it down and it will at least help to pay any increase in my health insurance.

    It’s hard to believe that so much time and discussion was involved for $49 per

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

  10. Ellen Morin
    July 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Milt Morin

    Dave, Heidi –

    Thank you and the widows and retired players whose diligence helped to secure the Legacy Fund for us widows!

    Ellen Morin
    Widow of Milt Morin
    Cleveland Browns

  11. Laurel Ayers
    July 24th, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    John Ayers

    I want to thank all of you who stood up for the NFL widows. Your efforts made the difference and are greatly appreciated.

    Laurel Ayers
    widow John Ayers
    1953 – 1995
    San Francisco 49ers 1976 – 1986
    Denver Broncos 1987

  12. Joan Ross
    July 28th, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Dan Ross

    I thought the Legacy Fund was a wonderful thing for the widows of pre-93. I thought I was one of them. But I was told I would receive a death benefit instead. Forgive me if I sound bitter but a death benefit was a strong price to pay for a wonderful man after 30 years of marriage. I know there was a considerable increase in the benefit in ’07 but to be left out of the Legacy Fund because of that is terrible. I think the name should be changed to Just-an-Increase-in-Pension Fund. I was not lucky enough to get that small amount of pension simply because Dan didn’t live to see his pension days.

    And remember: If I remarry – not that I would but I’m just 50 years old – I lose my benefit. But that so-called Legacy Benefit goes on for the rest of your life, no matter how small or large. It just doesn’t seem right.

    So glad for all you widows who received that small stipend but would like to see how the widows feel about not getting any Legacy money because of the death benefit?

    Joan Ross
    widow Dan Ross 1957-2006
    Cincinnati Bengals
    1979 – 1983
    Seattle Seahawks
    1984 – 1986
    Green Bay Packers
    1986 – 1987

  13. Nanette Peavy
    August 3rd, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Questions: Have any ex-wives of the players had their disability benefit they’ve been receiving decreased because of an amendment to the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement? Has anyone recently received a decrease in pension benefits because of a misinterpreted Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

    Nanette Peavy

  14. Patsy Lewis
    August 11th, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Patsy Jones

    Hello Dave –

    I was told by Lashay at the Bert Bell office that widows receiving widows benefit were not eligible for the Legacy Benefits – only beneficiaries were entitled. I told her that was not my understanding. I need some clarification and if her response is true, then the widows are due a formal apology along with a public retraction.

    No wonder I could not get a return phone call. Can you get someone to find out what’s going on?

    Thank you.

    Mark Lewis
    Patsy Lewis
    widow of Mark Lewis (1961 – 1993)
    Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions
    1985 – 1989

  15. Laurel Ayers
    August 11th, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    John Ayers


    I was told that widows whose husbands died before taking a pension were not eligible because they receive a death benefit which – according to them – is more than most widows whose husbands had already begun receiving their pensions at the time of death. Therefore, those of us in that category receive nothing from the Legacy Fund.

    Even so, I would still like to reiterate my appreciation to everyone who fought that battle and I am very happy for those who qualify.

    Laurel Ayers
    widow John Ayers
    1953 – 1995
    San Francisco 49ers
    1976 – 1986
    Denver Broncos

  16. Tessie Lee
    August 13th, 2012 at 9:26 pm #


    Have any of the ex-wives received an increase yet? Because I am still waiting.

    Tessie Lee

  17. Joanie Hardy
    August 14th, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Joanie Hardy

    Tessie –

    Have you received any type of communication from them?

    Joanie Hardy

  18. Tessie Lee
    August 14th, 2012 at 8:26 am #


    Nothing other than the standard letter saying I would get an increase based on my ex-husband’s disability plan. That was about 4 months ago. What about you?

    Tessie Lee

  19. Nanette Peavy
    August 14th, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    The only correspondence I’ve received is a letter stating that I would receive a decrease based on my QDRO! When I was first granted pension and disability benefits from my ex-husband, I received a letter that stated I would get whatever percentage and increases from the Plan Office based on THEIR interpretation of the QDRO. Now that they’re going over everyone’s QDRO, they said in paragraph #7 that I was only entitled to receive the benefits based on the accrued benefit as of that date of the order.

    If you want an increase, you’d better make sure that your QDRO states “as of the date of the order and after and increases.” So ladies, you need to contact your attorneys and get your QDRO’s modified or you will receive a letter from the plan office stating that you have been overpaid and your check will be reduced to the original amount you received at the beginning of receiving the benefit.

    Needless to say, I’m on my way back to the judge to modify my order. Remember, these template QDRO’s were given to us by the NFL Plan Office! Now, after so many years, they want to do a recall of their own interpretation! Wow! I hope all of you kept your original letters from the Plan Office that spelled out what you would receive based on the plan office’s interpretation. I sure have mine ready just in case the judge needs to see it.

    Nanette Peavy

  20. Joanie Hardy
    August 14th, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    I’ve received nothing except two canned responses to emails that I sent them which stated they first needed to review my QDRO. I spoke with a man at the WA D.C. offices whoinformed me that the union would be reviewing my QDRO before being sent to the actuaries to be reviewed again by them. I spoke with my QDRO attorney who then reviewed my QDRO and quickly informed me that I’m eligible. The union would save itself problems by at least communicating with beneficiaries to assure us that they haven’t ignored or neglected beneficiaries.

    What is wrong with this picture? They quibble, prevaricate and misinterpret to such a degree that any attempt to appear professional is a complete waste of their time. Compared to the salaries they ‘apparently’ receive, what is so wrong with union finances that they believe they need to nickel-and-dime actual beneficiaries out of their nickels and dimes?

    Joanie Hardy

  21. Liz Finnie Morgan
    September 27th, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    So what exactly is the ruling for the Legacy Benefit Fund for ex-wives who were married to NFL players for eight seasons, and who are recently deceased. Are we eligible for this Fund and for a portion of the pension for the years married to them? If so, is there a contact number to call?

    Liz Finnie Morgan

  22. Tiffini Gray
    November 28th, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    I am the ex -wife of a player whose pension benefit was reduced due to a audit by the NFL Benefits Office as it relates to what the NFL claims is a mistake in the QDRO.

    Has anyone had a similar experience and if so what steps did you take to get the situation resolved?

    Tiffini Gray

  23. Tiffini Gray
    November 29th, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Tessie – or any one else – I’m looking for a good QDRO attorney. Can you or anyone else recommend one?

    Tiffini Gray

  24. Gordon A.Wright
    December 8th, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Thanks Joe for a dose of reality about some of the lawyer’s. Happy to know a few lawyer’s are fair to their clients and not totally self-serving!