The analysis below and the FAQ’s that follow are presented to help educate and inform all retired NFL players about the Court approved concussion settlement that currently awaits effective final approval.
If I am retired NFL player what does this proposed “Class” settlement mean to me?
An easy way to look at it is that you fall into one of three categories: “Asymptomatic”, “Symptomatic”, or “Diagnosed”. If you are “Asymptomatic” that means that you have no current symptoms that indicate head trauma, such as short term memory loss, headaches, tingling in your hands or feet, or bouts depression and/or anxiety. If you are “Symptomatic” then you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms. The last category is “Diagnosed”. If you are diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Severe Cognitive Decline such as Dementia, you are considered Diagnosed. The only other condition that applies as a qualifying condition is “Death with CTE”.
Now understanding where you fit in, if you are “Asymptomatic” and you become “Symptomatic”, the way the proposed settlement is structured, you will be entitled to medical testing and medical benefits to treat your symptoms. If you then, at some point in the future become
diagnosed with a qualifying condition, you will be entitled to financial compensation.
If you are currently “Symptomatic” you will be able to register to be medically tested and then treated or financially compensated, if applicable. This will be a process.
The exact monetary compensation for any one player who is considered “Diagnosed” depends on several factors, including time in the league and age at the time of diagnosis. This is not the sort of “Class Action” where you fill out a form and then receive financial compensation or a health benefits card in the mail. It will be a process (assuming that the agreement receives final approval by Judge Brody). As part of the proposed settlement, there will be a Center set up to assist retired NFL players and their attorneys with the process of registering for medical testing, the process for receiving medical benefits and the process of filing a claim for financial compensation.
What does the “Class” mean?
The proposed settlement is defined by a “Class.” This means it includes the approximately 4,800 players who have filed suit, as well as the approximately 14,000 other living NFL players. The proposed “Class” includes all living retired players; from a player that played solely on a practice squad to a long time vested player. If you are diagnosed with any neurological condition set forth in the proposed settlement, you will be entitled to a monetary award. The exact amount of any one player’s recovery (if eligible) will depend on their age and how long they played in the league. For those retired players who have symptoms of cognitive decline but are undiagnosed, the player will be able to be medically tested and if diagnosed with a qualifying diagnosis, they will receive financial compensation.
I am currently receiving disability or some other benefit from the NFL. Could my involvement in this “Class” settlement jeopardize or lower my NFL disability payments?
The answer is absolutely NO. The NFL has agreed to not have a concussion claim reduce or affect a player’s other benefits (i.e. Disability Payments, Neuro-Cognitive Benefits, and/or 88 Plan Benefits. In simple terms, there is no affect on any NFL benefit policies by being involved in the Concussion Settlement. There are NO discounts or offsets. This is a really beneficial clause for the players because they can still collect all forms of disability, including 88 Plan Benefits, and neuro-cognitive benefits with no financial penalty to the player on any benefit. Whether it is total impairment; line of duty; or neurological/cognitive benefits, now or in the future, any concussion claim is separate and apart.
Who is contributing the monies that will be paid to the players for financial damages and medical testing?
The NFL and NFL Properties will contribute an unlimited / uncapped amount of money that will ensure that this settlement will benefit players for 65 years into the future.
What players are not included in the Settlement Class?
The Settlement Class does not include current NFL players. The Settlement Class also does not include people who tried out for but did not make it onto preseason, regular season or postseason rosters or practice, developmental or taxi squads of the NFL or any Member Clubs.
What diagnoses qualify for monetary awards?
Monetary awards are available for the diagnosis of ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., moderate Dementia), Level 1.5 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., early Dementia) or Death with CTE if death occurred from January 1, 2006 through July 7, 2014 (the “Qualifying Diagnoses”). A Qualifying Diagnosis may occur at any time until the end of the 65-year term of the Monetary Award Fund.
If a retired player receives a monetary award based on a Qualifying Diagnosis, and later is diagnosed with a different Qualifying Diagnosis that entitles him to a larger monetary award than his previous award, he will be eligible for an increase in compensation. This would also apply to Derivative Claimants.
Qualifying Diagnoses must be made by approved qualified specialists. Any time prior to Final Settlement Approval, only board-certified neurologists, board-certified neurosurgeons or board-certified neuro-specialist physicians or similarly qualified specialists can make Qualifying Diagnoses. Following Final Settlement Approval, only qualified specialists approved by the Claims Administrator will be able to make Qualifying Diagnoses with the exception of Qualifying Diagnoses made through the BAP.
The level of neurocognitive impairment will be established in part with evidence of decline in performance in at least two areas subject to clinical evaluative testing, provided one of the areas is executive function, learning and memory, or complex attention, and related functional impairment as follows:
LEVEL OF NEUROCOGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT TYPE OF IMPAIRMENT DEGREE OF DECLINE
Level 1 Moderate cognitive impairment Moderate cognitive decline
Level 1.5 Early Dementia Moderate cognitive decline
Level 2 Moderate Dementia Severe cognitive decline
What is the Injury Compensation Fund?
Injury Compensation Fund. For those players eligible to collect monies (those players that are diagnosed with a qualifying diagnosis), there will be a fund of an uncapped dollar amount (to be paid by the NFL). The precise amount of compensation to any one player will be based upon their specific diagnosis, as well as factors including age and number of seasons played in the NFL.
The actual amount will be determined based on each retired player’s actual age at the time of diagnosis and on other potential adjustments.
Must a retired player be vested under the NFL Retirement Plan to receive Settlement benefits?
No. A retired player can be a Settlement Class Member regardless of whether he is vested due to credited seasons or total and permanent disability under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan.
What is the Baseline Assessment Program
The Baseline Assessment Program (BAP) allows every retired player to be seen by an independent licensed neuropsycholgist, and /or board certified neurologist and to receive a base level cognitive assessment in order to determine if the player has any symptoms of cognitive decline. If there is no current diagnosis of a qualifying condition, the doctor will provide a report that may be used to establish a diagnosis in the future.The Baseline Assessment Program is the core mechanism for which a player’s claim will be handled. If a player decides to get evaluated, treated, or diagnosed and does not utilize the BAP mechanism, that player could be financially penalized if he recovers any monetary award.
If a retired player’s condition worsens over time, he may apply for a supplemental payment?
Yes. The player can receive supplemental payment if his condition worsens and he is diagnosed with a qualifying condition (ALS, Alheimers, Parkinsons, Death with CTE, Mild to Moderate to Severe cognitive decline)
Is a player eligible to become part of this lawsuit if they are not part of the current filed concussion lawsuits?
The proposed settlement contains language that makes it a “Class Settlement”. This means it includes the approximately 4,800 players who have already filed suit, as well as the approximately 14,000 players that remain eligible to receive testing and treatment, and financial compensation, if applicable; as well as those families whose family member was an NFL Player and was diagnosed with a qualifying condition. All players become automatic “Class” members by virtue of the settlement itself (if approved).
Can a decision or denial of benefits be appealed?
Yes. If you believe that the claim Administrator unfairly denied your injury award or that the award you received was incorrect, then you or your attorney can appeal and reverse the decision by proving by clear and convincing evidence that your decision should be reevaluated.