NOTE: This is a reprint of Mr. Hogan’s editorial.
We thank him for his efforts and encourage each reader to sign the petition for the independence of the retired players from the NFLPA.
By John V. Hogan, Esq.
The new CBA contains a provision that on its face appears to be of benefit to some retired NFL players receiving Total and Permanent disability benefits under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. Article 61, Section 2 (a) (i) provides that a player will be permitted to receive up to $30,000 per year of earned (i.e. “work”) income without affecting his disability benefits. Presumably this was enacted to allow guys to be paid some appearance fees or earnings from card signings and other events without jeopardizing their “total disability” eligibility.
However, I’m sure than many – if not most – retired NFL players who receive T&P disability from the Bell/Rozelle Plan also receive Social Security disability. If so, having earned income up to $30,000 per year would most likely cause a cessation of their SSA benefits. In general, a person receiving Social Security disability benefits may work and earn up to a maximum of $1,000 per month gross ($12,000 per year) before they are deemed to be able to engage in “substantial gainful activity.”
Under Social Security rules, any work activity must be reported so that the Social Security Administration can determine whether the claimant’s condition has improved. If it has – and they have the ability to work – then they are no longer considered disabled.
As $12,000 is significantly less than $30,000, I have no doubt that many players will (being confused or not paying attention) exceed SSA’s earnings limit. At that point, they may be faced with a cessation of their disability benefits, liability for overpayment of Social Security benefits they have received after they have engaged in substantial gainful activity, as well as loss of their medical benefits from Medicare.
Here’s the Trojan Horse: Under Plan Section 5.3(b) a player receiving T&P benefits from the Plan must submit proof annually of his continued receipt of Social Security disability benefits and must immediately report any revocation of those benefits to the Plan. It’s not very difficult to see the scenario that then unfolds – the player is then sent to one of the Plan’s chosen doctors who opines that he is not totally disabled…
I’m glad to know that some limited income will not automatically disqualify a disabled retired NFL player from receiving his T&P benefits but as a true believer in Murphy’s Law – and as an attorney who has had extensive dealing with the Bell/Rozelle Plan – I’m sure that many guys will come to know how the citizens of Troy felt when the Greeks decimated them.
I could go on for hours and would be happy to at some other time. I would also be happy to provide you with any specific citations, evidence, etc., you would care to see.
Retired Football Players Advocate
That is what I think. Tell me what you think.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.
He is the host of a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com.
He has also published several novels on
and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.
He edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.