washingtonpost OP t1_j7qvhbd wrote

From reporter Will Hobson:

Pressured by Congress, the league and its union promised reforms years ago. But a Washington Post investigation shows a system still stacked against players left broken by football.

The 2022 NFL season will be remembered, in part, for two shocking scenes that renewed focus on the damage America’s most popular sport inflicts on its players. One was the sight of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa writhing on the field after suffering his second concussion in five days, briefly bringing a Thursday Night Football game to a halt. The other was Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing with a cardiac arrest, ending a Monday Night Football game and briefly bringing the sport to a standstill.

Both events brought swift public responses from the NFL and the NFL Players Association, professing their concern for the health and safety of the league’s players.

But beyond the glare of national television, debilitated former NFL players continue to encounter a benefit plan, jointly managed by the league and union, that fights aggressively to deny claims and repeatedly shirks legal obligations to fairly review cases, a Washington Post investigation found.

Over the past six months, The Post reviewed thousands of pages of medical records, denial letters and other plan documents produced in lawsuits since 2008, the year after former players went to Congress to complain of onerous red tape, biased doctors and a rigged claims process. League and union officials disputed those allegations but promised reforms.

In the 15 years since, though, eight players have successfully sued the league’s plan, triggering tense and protracted legal fights that have revealed repeated instances in which the NFL’s plan seized on technicalities, ignored medical evidence and flouted federal judges to justify denying claims.

The NFL declined to make any official available for an interview. In a statement, the league dismissed the plan’s losses in court as a small fraction of the thousands of cases it has handled. And even in cases where federal judges ruled the plan wrongly denied a claim, the NFL asserted, the judges were wrong.

“There have been roughly 10,000 claims considered since 2008,” wrote league spokesman Brian McCarthy. “Even if those less than a dozen cases were improperly decided — and they were not — the less than one dozen cases hardly amount to a pattern.”

The NFL and the union, NFLPA, both emphasized the sum the plan pays out to disabled retirees: more than $320 million last year, a substantial increase from the $20 million the plan told Congress it was paying out in 2007.

The NFL’s plan is unique, making it difficult to compare its record in the courts to peers. A typical disability insurer manages plans for many companies, covering millions more customers than the NFL plan. But playing in the NFL is also far more likely to leave players with potentially disabling injuries than perhaps any other job in America, increasing the likelihood for lawsuits.

Several experienced disability attorneys who have battled the NFL’s plan in court, in interviews, said the league’s plan stands apart in how vociferously it fights claims. And they expressed outrage that the NFL maintains every judge who has ruled against the plan was mistaken.

Read more about our investigation into these lawsuits here, and skip the paywall with email registration: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/02/08/nfl-disability-players-union/?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=reddit.com


washingtonpost OP t1_j6or7u6 wrote

From reporter Luz Lazo:

The District has about 250 electric vehicle charging stations, a number that some city officials say is inadequate to meet the growing demand for EVs in the nation’s capital.

City leaders are hoping to grow that number 30-fold, proposing to put 7,500 charging stations across all eight wards by 2027 while setting requirements for the city and developers to include charging ports in renovations or new construction.

“Right now, even if you go get an electric vehicle, you don’t have any place to charge it,” said D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6). “We don’t have building standards that require charging infrastructure. We don’t create public charging infrastructure. We don’t do a whole lot.”

Allen, the new chairman of the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, introduced a bill Tuesday that would create a plan for how to boost charging options within residential and commercial districts across the city. The proposal, which is co-signed by each member of the D.C. Council, is the city’s latest effort to boost EV adoption while seeking to meet environmental goals and reduce pollution.

The bill would require developers of new residential and commercial buildings to include charging options in their parking plans and mandate that the city consider installing ports in major streetscape projects. The plan also would establish a permitting process for charging infrastructure at existing single-family homes and multifamily housing.

Supporters say the proposal would allow the District to catch up with the demand for EVs as more residents and visitors choose electric over gas-powered vehicles.

Read more about the proposal here, and skip the paywall with email registration: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2023/01/31/dc-electric-vehicle-charging-ports/?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=reddit.com


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vpo3a wrote

The long-term care insurance market is a hot mess. Early on they got the pricing wrong. The thought was people would only need it for a few years or pass away before needing it. WRONG. Not only were early long-term care policy holders using the insurance, they lived for years and years. So the insurance companies had huge payouts they had not anticipated. Here we are now and many people are experiencing steep hikes as the market tries to correct the pricing. I’ve talked to seniors who have policies and got notices for price hikes of 20%, 30% and even 50%. If they cancel they lose all that money. If they keep the policy they are paying out the nose. Many end up reducing the benefits, so that they can afford the price increases. There are some hybrid policies that make it more affordable but the coverage periods are limited.

At your age, you may be too early for it, assuming you stay healthy. I would go over this with a financial planner to determine if it’s right for you.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vof0a wrote

It’s all about your risk tolerance. Being in all equities right now will try your patience and sanity. Can you sleep during periods when the market bounces in and out of bear territory?

Most experts, suggest you still have some bonds even in your younger years. You want balance. And what that balance will be will depend on how much risk you can stomach.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vo0pe wrote

This is always a hard question for me. I know many people struggle to make ends meet, so perhaps they didn’t have much left to save for retirement. Or, let’s be real, they had the money and made poor decisions. Or, just didn’t know how to save. If you face living just off Social Security, and that’s not a lot (about $1,700 a month as of Dec. 2022), you have to rethink your retirement. First look for ways to reduce your biggest expense – housing. Can you live with someone or get a roommate? Can you move to a less expensive area? If you are able, can you work full-time or part-time? Or, if you can, can you delay retiring until you’ve been able to save a little bit more. Look at all your expenses and see where you can cut. Be sure to tap all the state and federal resources available.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vn1fn wrote

I get this question a lot. Here’s my philosophy based on working with hundreds of folks in debt. Yes, your priority should be to get rid of debt. But if you focus all your extra cash on debt reduction and fail to save for an emergency – and there will be one because life happens – you may end up adding to your debt to handle that emergency. So save some – perhaps up to $1,000 – then stop and concentrate on the debt. If you have an old car that’s giving you some issues, err on the side of a large “life happens fund” (see earlier answer about this fund).

So for example, if you have an extra $100 a month, use say $50 to boost your life happens fund until you reach a safe savings pot. Then stop saving and put all the extra cash toward the debt. For instance, I was working with a woman who had like $25,000 in credit card debt, and about $30,000 in savings. Her credit card was charging close to 20% interest. Her savings was getting less than 1 percent. But she was scared to let go of that money. She had a fairly secure job, no other debt, etc. I told her to pay off the credit card in full. She did, and she built back her savings in no time.

As for tithing. If you believe this religious principle then, yes, you should tithe while paying off debt. For those who are not believers, I know this sounds, well, financially unsound. But faith is a personal thing and if you believe you follow your faith. Because there are always going to be something to pull you away from your beliefs. Now, if you are going to follow this advice, you must, and I mean must, have a plan that will help you get rid of that debt.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vjxby wrote

Wanted to add something. So, if you are hiring a fee-only planner paying $1,000 to $1,500 is about right if the person is doing a comprehensive look at your financial situation and making recommendations. And you will want that to to include an assessment of whether you are on track for certain goals, such as saving for retirement.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vjbdi wrote

Here’s how I typically answer this question. If you have a painful problem with your gums or teeth, would you try to fix it yourself? Or would you hire a professional/dentist to treat you?

Same with your money. If you are unsure of what to do, or you need a second opinion or guidance pay the money to get help. I have and it has made a world of difference. A few years ago, I found an old folder with advice from a financial planner. She had made a number of recommendations – term life insurance in addition to what my husband and I carried at work, disability insurance, stop being so conservative in our workplace retirement accounts, start those 529 plans, create a non-retirement investment account. We followed all the advice and I’m so grateful. We are doing very well because of her guidance. I would have never done that one my own in my 30s because I was too scared of risk. So, yes, pay the money for someone to look over your financial plan.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vid39 wrote

My first training ground for financial journalism started with my grandmother Big Mama. She rescued me and my four siblings from having to be put in foster care. She was a masterful manager of her money and she never made more than $13,000 a year. I watch her care for, feed, clothe 5 grandchildren, with an alcoholic husband (sweet man) who often drank away his payment. She trained me to be a saver and hater of debt. Then I went to grad school for business, and honed my personal finance skills and knowledge writing the Post Color of Money column for 25 years. Additionally, I run a financial ministry at my church, which for decades has helped people get rid of millions of dollars in debt. I also volunteer in Maryland prisons in a reentry program. So I have lots of experience on the ground, looking at people’s real budgets.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vhc9f wrote

First, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have that $1 million all those articles and experts say you should have. Most folks don’t have anywhere near that much. More like a few hundred thousand. If you find yourself behind, focus on cutting expenses so that you can free up money to invest. I mean really cut to the bone. If you can start contributing the max you can in a retirement account, either workplace or traditional IRA. Then think about what you can change about the ideal retirement you envision. You may not be able to retire at 65 and travel the world. You may need to consider a shared housing situation to cut down on the biggest expense in your budget. Manage our expectations for retirement.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vgfei wrote

We have become a society that loves plastic. Cash is frowned upon, and the merchants and credit providers know that because that’s what they’ve been pushing for decades. So, they can charge high interchange fees because folks want the ease of swiping for what they want. The disadvantage is the cost of goods is higher because you better believe they pass along those fees to consumers. The advantage is we do get some pretty good consumer protections when goods and services aren’t delivered. Credit card companies go to bat for you because they don’t want a lot of chargebacks.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vfrch wrote

I love working with some of the most talented writers, editors, copy editors, SEO folks, designers, etc. It’s like a room full of the smartest kids in your class. They inspire me to bring my “A” game. It can be stressful, but I like be pushed to be a better columnist, writer, reporter. And, not hype, but we want to serve readers. The conversations aren’t what journalism prize can we win, but how better can we inform regular folks to improve their lives. I truly mean that. There is so much misinformation out there, and we want to be a trusted source. Do we get stuff wrong? Sure we do, but we try to deliver the best journalism that we can.


washingtonpost OP t1_j5vfh8d wrote

Great question. I do.

  1. Build a healthy emergency fund. Aim for at least 1 month if funds are tight, 3 to 6 months if you’ve got some cushion in your budget. If you are a highly compensated employee/self-employed person try for 12 months to 18 months. And I know that’s a lot of dough, but higher earners when they lose their job or income spend that much time get back to that same earnings level
  2. Life happens fund. Different from emergency fund, which I call, “I lost my job” fund. This is the pot you tap when your car breaks down, etc. This way you can leave the emergency fund for something dire
  3. Retirement account. Save as much as you can, as soon as you can.
  4. College fund if you got kids. My husband and I did this starting when our kids were wee little ones. Saved for 20 years mostly in 529 plan. Had enough to send all 3 to college with no debt, plus one to graduate school. Savings and scholarships did the job.
  5. Non-retirement investment account. Pay for our cars with cash/earnings built up by investing over the years.
  6. Fun money. So we can take vacations, etc. without building up debt

washingtonpost OP t1_j4vftzd wrote

From reporter Tim Carman:

Brittany Spaddy has never seen “The American President,” the 1995 rom-com written by Aaron Sorkin, but she basically lived out one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the one in which a flower shop employee collapses when the president of the United States walks in and tries to order roses.

Spaddy was called into work at Ghostburger on Tuesday, her day off, ostensibly because a VIP was coming to the D.C. burger joint and the place would need extra employees to handle the crowd. But the real agenda, said Josh Phillips, co-founder of Ghostburger, was that the owners wanted Spaddy to be there when President Biden called to place an order. The White House had made the arrangements the day before with Phillips and his wife and co-founder, Kelly.

“She earned that call,” Phillips said about Spaddy, who handles practically everything in the front of the house at Ghostburger, one of the few feel-good stories of the pandemic.

Neither of Ghostburger’s owners told Spaddy who was calling. They just said an “important phone call was coming in today,” Spaddy said. She thought it might be D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser or some pop-culture figure. She was not expecting the president.

“I got a little star-struck when I answered the phone, and I’m normally not like this,” she said. “Because I heard the voice, and I’m like, ‘No way! No way! No way!’”

Spaddy recognized the voice before the president could even identify himself. She took his order. Biden asked for a single Ghostburger with bacon, but no cheese and no “spooky sauce.” He ordered another single Ghostburger with cheese, but no sauce. Based on a photo posted to the president’s official Twitter account, Biden claimed the bacon burger. Vice President Harris noshed on the cheeseburger. They both ordered crinkle cut fries.

Read more here, and skip the paywall with email registration: https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2023/01/18/biden-ghostburger-order/?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=reddit.com