Trump Administration is Kinder to Disabled Musicians Than Our Trustees

In a prior post, MPS called attention to the fact that our trustees have decided to eliminate the disability pension for most musicians who need it (see post here). In response to our post the AFM-EPF trustees published a Pension Notes article on Wednesday, August 21 (see article here), In that article, the trustees pushed back saying that their recent action has nothing to do with MPRA cuts. Rather, it has to do with “new federal regulations effective April 1, 2018, that imposed more stringent and complex requirements for how plans process Disability Pension claims.” In other words, the Disability Benefit has become too complex and expensive to administer, so the trustees have eliminated it, except for a very narrow category of claims.

As with everything the AFM-EPF trustees say, this needed to be fact checked. And once again, what the trustees say does not check out. For starters, the “new federal regulations” cited by our trustees were enacted by the Trump Administration. Before these regulations were enacted, the Trump Administration, as part of its well-publicized attempt to reduce the regulatory burden on all aspects of American society and business, imposed a delay so that it could evaluate these proposed regulations (with input from affected entities) with an eye toward reducing regulatory burden and expense. 

The Department of Labor – which oversees disability claims – found, after careful review, that opponents of the regulation “did not establish that the final rule imposes unnecessary regulatory burdens.” The Department of Labor went on to state the benefits of the new regulations: “The new rule ensures, for example, that disability claimants receive a clear explanation of why their claim was denied as well as their rights to appeal a denial of a benefit claim and to review and respond to new information developed by the plan during the course of an appeal. The rule also requires that a claims adjudicator could not be hired, promoted, terminated, or compensated based on the likelihood of denying claims.”

The trustees’ claim that these new Trump Administration regulations are too complex and expensive to administer rings hollow. So does the trustees’ statement that the regular pension “provides the same benefit” as the disability benefit. Tell that to the disabled musicians whose benefits will be cut during the MPRA cut process. 
The AFM-EPF has a staff of over 70, including many who earn over $125,000 per year. Are they really not capable of processing disability claims for the musicians who need them?