NFL disability process streamlined

Benefits for ex-players

December 13, 2007|By From Staff reports

Responding to the public outcry from former players, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced yesterday a number of changes to streamline the process by which former players receive disability benefits.

Those changes include:

The appointment of a medical director who will consult with the two-person initial claims committee and with the retirement board to assist in resolving claims.

Setting up physician panels in the areas of largest concentration of retired players, including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas and other major metropolitan areas.

The addition of a claims specialist to advise players by phone on preparing applications and help reduce processing time.

Allowing retirement board members to vote on appeals via e-mail rather than wait for the next scheduled meeting of the board.

Extending the continuation review period from three to five years for cases in which applicants are receiving total and permanent disability benefits.

The league and union also will provide retired players with a prescription drug card giving them a substantial discount on prescriptions. This new benefit will be funded under the NFL's collective-bargaining agreement and will be provided at no cost to former players.

In a statement issued through the league office, union executive director Gene Upshaw said: "We at the NFLPA promised some time ago, including to the U.S. Congress, that we would do our best to improve and expedite the disability claims process, and these five concrete steps plus the prescription drug card will help fulfill that promise."

Harold Henderson, chairman of the NFL management council, called changes a "first step and solution to the administration things" that retired players had complained about.

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