Ex-NFL Player Denied 'Degenerative' Disability
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - A retired NFL running back should not get higher monthly benefits because football may not have caused his disabilities, a federal judge ruled.
Greg Hill played six seasons in the league, qualifying him for pension and disability benefits through the 2009 Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Player Retirement Plan. He was awarded Social Security Disability benefits in 2010 for memory problems, blackouts, headaches and other symptoms, the ruling states.
There are two categories for disabled former players under the retirement plan: "football degenerative" and "vested inactive." The latter applies to players whose disability arises out of something "other than league football activities" while the football degenerative designation is for football-related disabilities, according to the ruling.
A claims committee denied Hill's request for football degenerative status in 2011, citing medical records in his application and a doctor's report. "The committee noted that it did not find Hill's disabling condition to arise out of football activities," the ruling states.
Hill then went to see a different orthopedist who thought his permanent disability did come from playing football, so Hill appealed the committee's denial.
After that appeal was denied in March 2012, Hill sued the Bell/Rozelle Plan. U.S. Magistrate Judge Don Bush granted the defendant summary judgment Tuesday.
"The court finds that the board did not abuse its discretion in denying Hill football degenerative benefits," he wrote. "Acknowledging that Hill had injuries related to football is not in and of itself a finding of disability. The narratives attached to [doctors'] reports indicate the reasoning that he was not [totally and permanently] disabled due to league football activities."
Hill played for the Kansas Chiefs from 1994-1997, for the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and the Detroit Lions in 1999. He recorded one career touchdown.