Knowing the NFL benefits…and if you qualify

Many former players are still not sure what benefits are available to them and whether they qualify, so I thought it might be good to post a simplified chart showing the different benefits along with who is eligible.
I should note that the recent Long Term Health Care insurance program that the NFL will be providing, is not included in this chart.  We are still waiting for all the details, but here is some basic information you should know: 
  • Eligible alumni are those who are vested under the NFL’s retirement plan 
  • Toll free hotline will be established to answer questions
  • There will be a rolling enrollment by geographic region beginning March 1.
  • Information concerning specifics of the plan will be emailed, mailed, and included on websites before March 1, 2011.
  • Alumni should make sure that the NFL Alumni Association or the Player Care Foundation has your most up-to-date contact information so they can send you specific detailed information on the plan by March 1st, 2011.

Here is the benefit chart:


Name of Benefit or Program and Year Established  Players from These Years May Participate Summary of Eligibility Criteria Selected Features of the Benefit
Retirement Benefits  September 19, 1962  All years Vested player (4 years for pre 1993 players) (3 years for 1993 players and after) — A player earns a benefit credit for each credited season, and a vested player’s monthly pension is the sum of his benefit credits for each of his credited seasons. Under the 2006-2012 CBA, the benefitcredits are as follow: 

Credited Season ——–Benefit CreditBefore 1982 —————- $250

1982-1992 —————— $255

1993-1994 —————— $265

1995-1996 —————— $315

1997 ————————- $365

1998-present ————— $470 

— Any vested inactive player may choose to receive his benefits at the normal retirement age, which is 55 under the retirement plan, or later (that is, deferred retirement). A vested inactive player with at least one credited season prior to 1993 plan year may elect for early retirement (which begins at age 45). Benefits will be adjusted accordingly for a player who chooses deferred retirement or early retirement. Benefits will be increased for deferred retirement, and decreased for early retirement. 

— A vested player who leaves the NFL on or after March 1, 1977, has at least one credited season prior to the 1993 plan year, and is no longer an employee may elect to receive an early payment benefit in the form of a lump sum, a life-only pension, or a qualified joint and survivor annuity. If a player receives an early payment benefit, his monthly pension will be based upon 75% of the sum of his benefit credits. 

— A player who chooses an early payment benefit after March 31, 1982, will have any subsequent payments for certain benefits (for example, total and permanent disability benefits, line-of-duty disability benefits) reduced by 25%.

88 Plan      February 1, 2007 All years Vested player who is suffering from dementia, Alzheimers disease or ALS. — Plan will reimburse, or pay for, certain costs related to dementia, Alzheimers and ALS. — A maximum of $88,000 may be paid annually for expenses for care provided by a third party (for example, institutional custodial care or home custodial care provided by an unrelated third party). The maximum amount of this benefit is $50,000 annually for care that is not provided by a third party (for example, a relative provides care at home).
Annuity Program  April 1, 1998 1998-present Minimum of four credited seasons. — This is a deferred compensation program. — An allocation of $65,000 will be made each year for each eligible player who earns a credited season in an annuity year and who has a total of four or more credited seasons as of the end of such annuity year. Players receive a payment of $5,000 for both their second and third credited season and then $55,000 in their fourth season, then 65,000 for each credited season thereafter.
Cardiovascular Health CVH) Program  July 25, 2007 All years This program is open to all players. — Provides cardiovascular screening and education.
Death Benefits  September 19, 1962 All years Vested inactive or active player. — Provides financial assistance to widow and/or surviving minor children of a former or active player.— Monthly benefit equal to $3,600 or 50% of the player’s benefits, whichever is greater. For first 48 months after player’s death, the amount of the benefit cannot be less than $6,000/month for a playerwho was an active player after 1976 plan year, or $9,000/month for a player who was an active player after the 1981 plan year.— For a widow, benefit ends with her death or remarriage. For children, benefit ends upon reaching the age of 19 (or 23, if in college). Termination based on age does not apply if child is mentally orphysically incapacitated. 
Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)   March 1, 2007 2004-present At least three credited seasons for a player who earned a credited season in 2006 or any later year. At least eight credited seasons for a player whose last credited season was 2004 or 2005. — An annual contribution is made to a player’s account in the amount of $25,000 or $50,000, depending upon the terms of the CBA. Total contributions shall not exceed $300,000. — Player may receive reimbursement for medical care expenses only during periods of time when he is not covered by the Group Insurance in the CBA or the Extended Post-Career Medical and Dental Insurance in the CBA.
Joint Replacement Benefit Plan 2007  All years Vested retired players — Assists retired players who need joint replacement surgery. — Plan provides financial assistance to all eligible former players to cover the cost of surgery.

 — Additional financial assistance is available from the NFL Player Care Foundation.

Line of duty (LOD)Disability benefit  April 1, 1970 All years Any player who incurs a substantial disablement (but is not totally and permanently disabled) arising out of NFL football activities, as determined by the Retirement Board or the Disability Initial Claims Committee (DICC),that is a significant factor in causing his retirement from football. Player does not have to be vested — Amount of monthly benefit will equal the sum of the player’s benefit credits (see Retirement Benefits) or $1,000, whichever is greater.— Payments continue for duration of substantial disablement, but no longer than 7 ½ years.— If both an LOD benefit and a T&P benefit are payable, only the larger of the two benefits will be paid.— Application for LOD benefit must be made after you cease to be an active player and within the later of (1) 48 months or (2) the number of years equal to your number of credited seasons.
Retiree Medical May 6, 1993 1993-present Vested (3 credited seasons) — Active players receive group insurance benefits: life insurance, and medical and dental benefits. The same medical and dental benefits are provided to former players for a set amount of time, as described below. — Players released or who otherwise severed employment after the first regular season game in the 2002 season, but before the first regular season game in 2005 season, continue to receive medical and dental benefits for 48 months.

 — Players released after the first regular season game in the 2005 season and prior to the expiration or termination of the 2006-2012 CBA will receive medical and dental benefits for the following 60-monthperiod.

Second Career Savings Plan July 1, 1993  1993-present A first-year player may contribute to the plan. A player must have at least two credited seasons, at least one of which is for Plan Year 2006 or later, in order to receive a club contribution. — Matching contributions shall be two dollars for each dollar provided by a player. The maximum matching contributions, which vary by plan year under the CBA, are as follow: $20,000 for each year, 2006-2008; $22,000 for 2009; $24,000 for 2010, and $26,000 for 2011.  — Beginning at age 45, a player may withdraw money from his account.
Severance Pay November 16, 1982   1982-present Minimum of two credited seasons. At least one of the seasons must have occurred during the period 1993-2011.Player’s written request for severance pay must indicate that he intends to permanently sever employment as an active player. — A player’s severance pay will equal the sum of the following: $5,000 per credited season for each season during the period 1989-1992;$10,000 per credited season for each season during the period 1993-1999;$12,500 per credited season for each season during the period 2000-2008;$15,000 per credited season for each season during the period 2009-2011. — Severance pay is paid in a single lump sum. Payment date varies depending upon when the individual was last involved in a league playing activity and when he submits an application.
Supplemental Disability Plan July 1, 1993 


1993-present Former players who receive T&P disability benefits in the “active football,” “active non-football,” and “football degenerative” categories. — Supplemental disability plan benefits are automatically paid to each eligible player. — Effective April 1, 2000, the monthly and annual supplemental disability plan benefit for each category is as follows: “active football,” $14,670 monthly and $176,040 annually; “active non-football,”  $7,167 monthly and $86,004 annually; and “football degenerative,” $5,167 monthly and $62,004 annually.

 — Players who receive T&P “inactive” category benefits do not receive any benefits under this plan. 

Total and Permanent Disability Benefit April 1, 1970  All years, except for an inactive player who does not have a credited season after 1958. Active player (he does not haveto be vested) or vested inactive player who is totally and permanently disabled, as determined by the Retirement Board or the DICC. — The amount of a player’s benefit will be equal to the sum of his benefit credits, excluding benefit credits for credited seasons prior to 1958. The benefit amount may be increased as follows for each benefit category: (a) Active football: monthly benefit will be not be less than $4,000 if the disability or disabilities arise out of NFL football activities, arise while the player is an active player, and cause the player to be totally and permanently disabled “shortly after” the disability or disabilities first arise. (b) Active non-football: monthly benefit will not be less than $4,000 if the disability or disabilities do not result from NFL football activities, but do arise while the player is an active player, and cause the player to be totally and permanently disabled “shortly after” the disabilities first arise. (c) Football degenerative: monthly benefit will not be less than $4,000 if the disability or disabilities arise out of NFL football activities and result in T&P disability before 15 years after the end of the player’s last credited season. (d) Inactive: The monthly benefit will not be less than $1,500 ($1,750 for applications received on or after April 1, 2007)p if the T&P disability or disabilities arise from other than NFL football activities

while the player is a vested inactive player, or the disability or disabilities arise out of NFL football activities and result in total and permanent disability 15 or more years after the end of the player’s last credited season, whichever is later. 

(e) Dependent child: monthly benefit will increase $100 per each child who is a dependent. 

— Effective for payments made on and after November 1, 1998, a player may receive a T&P payment for a disability resulting from a psychological/psychiatric disorder. This provision applies only to the “active nonfootball” and “inactive” categories, and special rules that pertain to disabilities resulting from other than a football injury. 

— A T&P disability that is a result of a psychological/psychiatric disorder may be awarded under the provisions for “active football” and “football degenerative”disabilities (and under special rules that pertain to disabilities resulting from a football injury incurred while an active player) if the requirements for such a disability are met and the disorder “(1) is caused by or relates to a head injury (or injuries) sustained by a Player arising out of League football activities (e.g., repetitive concussions); (2) is caused by or relates to the use of a substance prescribed by a licensed physician for an injury (or injuries) or illness sustained by a Player arising out of League football activities; or (3) is caused by an injury (or injuries) or illness that qualified the Player for total and permanent disability benefits under Section 5.1(a) [active football].”


— T&P benefit is payable for life or until cessation of total and permanent disability.



About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on February 24, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. A great job in explaining in simple terms, order, and precise informative information, Jeff. All our NFL Brothers should print this page and study and memorize it and then explain the medical benefits to their families.One of your best shout outs. Keep up the good work.

%d bloggers like this: