Former Los Angeles Rams player Bill Bain appeared as a witness at the United States Senate Hearing on the NFL retirement system. Bain stated he was testifying in support of the NFLPA. The NFLPA expected his testimony to highlight the efficiency of the NFL Disabilty Plan. Instead, Bain’s testimony told a story of extraordinary delays and careless, plan chosen doctors.
Below is a time line based upon Bill Bain’s testimony:
- 1987: Bill Bain retires from the National Football League.
- January 1993: Bain receives two letters from the NFL Player Benefits office advising him of two funds created to pay benefits to disabled players. The funds were created as a result of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bain’s health had deteriorated to the point he felt he could qualify for disability benefits through the National Football League. After learning of the two funds, Bain contacts Miki Yaras-Davis at the NFLPA and is sent an application for disability benefits. After returning the application, an appointment is scheduled for Bain to see a doctor chosen by the Disability Plan. When Bain arrives at his appointment with the plan chosen doctor he is told he needs to pay a $300 fee before the examination can take place. Bain did not have the money to spend on the exam. The doctor refused to evaluate Bain without the $300 payment.
- September 15, 1996: Two years and nine months after receiving the letters notifying him of the two funds created to pay disability benefits, Bain finally saves the $300 payment necessary to be examined by the Disability Plan’s doctor. The Plan doctor, Dr. Schultz, writes a report and submits it to the Retirement Board.
- January 16, 1997: The Retirement Board meets and makes a decision taking into account the medical report submitted by Dr. Schultz.
- January 18, 1997: Bain receives a letter from the Retirement Board notifying him that his application for disability benefits has been denied.
- January 19, 1997 to March 15, 1997: Bain begins the appeal process to dispute the Retirement Board’s denial. While reviewing the medical report written by Dr. Schultz, Bain and his attorney notice that Dr. Schultz incorrectly noted a surgical scar on Bain’s right knee. The surgical scar was actually on Mr. Bain’s left knee. Further, Dr. Schultz made no reference to venous insufficiency of the legs, which Bain claimed was his primary ailment. Bain stated Dr. Schultz never asked him to remove his socks to fully examine his legs.
- April 24, 1997: Bain submits his appeal to the Retirement Board. He also submits a letter which addresses the errors in the report Dr. Schultz submitted to the Board. On appeal, the Retirement Board is deadlocked at a 3-3 tie vote on Bain’s application. Since the vote is deadlocked, Bain is sent to see a Medical Advisory Physician (MAP) for additional medical evaluation.
- May 28, 1997: Bain is sent to see Medical Advisory Physician, Dr. James Tibone. Dr. Tibone is also a Plan chosen doctor. During the examination, like Dr. Schultz, Dr. Tibone does not examine the venous insufficiency in Bain’s legs. It isn’t until Bain’s wife, a registered nurse, requests that her husband remove his socks that Dr. Tibone examines the venous insufficiency present in Bain’s lower legs. Dr. Tibone prepares a medical report for review by the Retirement Board based upon the examination.
- July 23, 1997: The Retirement Board grants Bain disability benefits.
- August 15, 1997: Four and a half years after receiving the two letters informing him of the availability of disability benefits, Bain finally receives his first disability payment.
Video of Bill Bain’s testimony can be viewed by clicking HERE. Bain’s testimony begins 49 minutes and 35 seconds into the webcast. His testimony concludes at the 55 minute and 35 second mark. Unfortunately, there is no indication on the Senate Committee website that Mr. Bain submitted any written testimony.