The NFL Long Term Care insurance program

Recently there have been a lot of questions and concerns about the new Long Term Care insurance program for retired NFL players.  Before I get into talking about this new benefit, I think it is important for all former players to know exactly what Long Term Care is……… and what it isn’t. 


Long term care is the assistance provided to a person who has a severe cognitive impairment requiring continual supervision, or is unable to perform the activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, or getting up from a bed or chair).  

Long term care services may also include assistance with day to day activities such as medication management, personal hygiene, light housekeeping or meal preparation. 

Services provided by a physical, respiratory or speech therapist may also be included. Long term care can be provided in your home, an adult day care center, assisted living facility or a nursing home.


As with most insurance programs, this benefit may not be available to players that are “currently” suffering with medical problems that may require the aforementioned services.   

A good analogy:  How many auto insurance companies would insure your car if you brought it to them and it was already totaled?  You already know the answer to that question.  It’s no different with the Long Tern Care insurance industry.   

Before you accuse me of being harsh and indifferent to the suffering and needs of retired players, let me remind you that I have been a staunch advocate for improving the medical benefits of retired players, reforming the disability plan and working to increase the pension plan.  George Martin, the NFL Alumni officers and the general membership are still pushing the NFL owners to provide improvements in all three of these areas.  In fact, it was the NFL Alumni that passed the following resolution at its 2010 Winter meeting:

Resolution Calling on the NFL and NFLPA to Immediately Institute Long Term Health Insurance for Alumni

Whereas, The NFL Alumni Association is on record as supporting a Long Term Health Insurance benefit for all NFL alumni; and

Whereas, we fully recognize that a growing number of alumni are approaching a critical point in their insurability and 130 alumni die on average each year; and

Whereas, we recognize that many disabling ailments affect alumni at an earlier age than most, and that needed care for such players can be financially devastating on their families; and therefore be it

Resolved, that the Board of Directors of the NFL Alumni Association and its Chapter Presidents call on both the NFL and the NFLPA to ease the psychological and financial burden of alumni and their families by immediately securing this benefit for alumni.

As most of you know, the NFLPA summarily rejected the NFL owner proposal for long term care, saying it did not cover all retired players. While it would be preferable to cover all players, the NFL Alumni also recognized that this would be a huge step in the right direction. 

Just a few months after the resolution passed, the NFL owners announced that they would pay for this new benefit for retired players.  

We were told right from the “get go” that this insurance would not cover every retired player. No insurance company could stay in business if it did.  A number of LTC insurance providers were approached by the NFL when they first solicited the marketplace for this coverage.  Many providers dropped out because it wasn’t a money maker for them and they saw it as more of a liability to their company’s bottom line. 

TransAmerica stepped up to the plate………while others walked away. 

With that said, we should all remember that TransAmerica is a business.  They have shareholders that they report to and they need to show growth and profit in order to stay in business.

Let’s face it, if an insurance company can find a reason to deny “higher risk” players coverage…….they will.  From their perspective, that makes good business sense.  From the retired player perspective……….it just plain sucks! 

Nonetheless, TransAmerica has approved over 750 retired players for the insurance to date.  Their current approval rate is fluctuating between 75% and 80%.   

I hope and pray that none of us will need Long Term Care.  But if we are accepted into the program, it’s nice to know that it is there for us and our family. Spouses are eligible for the coverage at a 40% discount.  They can apply even if the retired player has been denied coverage.  

Keep in mind, we have an advocate for us!  It is the insurance broker.  I have referred the broker to several players that have been denied coverage. In some cases they have been able to help reverse the decision of  TransAmerica.  In some cases they couldn’t. You won’t know unless you try, so don’t give up until you’ve done everything you can. Sometimes we have to fight for what we need and what we are entitled to.  It’s been no different with the application process for NFL disability and workers compensation, so this application and approval process should come as no surprise. 

The LTC application process has been more difficult then some retired players thought it would be.  For some, it was easier than they thought it would be.  Obviously, the older you are, the greater the chance you have of of being denied. That is why it is important to apply for this coverage as soon as you turn 50 years of age.   

I hope that some of you are not discouraged from applying because you have heard the stories of those that have been denied. 

It is unfortunate to know that players that put their bodies on the line for the NFL are being denied this coverage.  There is obviously a gap in medical service that needs to be filled.  Some players are not impaired enough to qualify for the 88 Plan….but too impaired to qualify for the Long Term Care insurance.  The NFL owners need to address this issue and fill that hole!  

 If you haven’t applied for the Long Term Care Insurance, please make sure that you do so as soon as possible.  There is a window that will soon be closing and if you have not applied, you must wait a full year to apply again. 

Here is the number to call: (800) 260-7512 

You can also visit the website at




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 June 27, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Jeff, You have nailed the long term care program by Trans America. I encourage everyone to sign up. The spouse program is good.It is a good start.

  2. Thank you for the update! All I had seen up to now is wait for the info in the mail.

  3. How many living players over the age of 75 were excluded from the program? i get that Transamerica is a business, however, the “real pioneers” got the short end of this deal. Very sad…

    • Bob:

      I don’t know how many retired players are over the age of 75, but as you know, the policy was only for players age 50 to 75. As I mentioned in the article, the NFL needs to fill the gap in service for the pioneers of professional football. They can do it…….and they should do it.

  4. I purchased Long Term Care Insurance on my wife and myself 2-3 years ago at Standard Issue and applied for the NFL Long Term care through Transamerica for my myself only because my wife’s policy through Transamerica was more expensive for a similar benefit. It’s been several months and I haven’t heard back from Transamerica as to my policy being issued. I suggest that anyone who can get the NFL Long Term Care policy if it’s not to late do so. I talked to a former team mate who wasn’t even aware it was being offered at no cost.

  5. Steve Thurlow

    Hi Jeff,

    Your comments regarding Long Term Care Insurance are important and timely. You did mention that the NFL owners have agreed to pay for this benefit for all former players who qualify. However, I’m not sure that all of our former players realize that this is a no-brainer. It costs nothing to apply other than a few minutes of your time, and the results thus far indicate that 3 out of 4 applicants will be approved for Long Term Care for the rest of your life. This is something all of us should take advantage of.

  6. Thanks for your quick reply. Would be interesting if there was any talk for those over 75 to be in a position to pay a reduced premium or some other deal outside of what is being offered to those within the current framework? Perhaps with your considerable influence you can pass these concerns onto those that make these decisions…

  7. This IS a step in the right direction and any improvement and support for any of our retired players is a good thing and every man should act ASAP to be included in the program. Still, it should be a serious concern that the benefit that would make a REAL improvement (a pension and disability program that is more in line with MLB) continues to be avoided.

    As tough as it sounds, Jeff, your analogy about the car is accurate and understandable . As of today there are 775 men who do not qualify for the LTC insurance due to being “too old”….even though they have lived the longest with the damage and suffering that everyone now discusses openly and honestly. Almost every single one I speak with, who is struggling, puts on the “brave face” that “make no excuses” attitude and acknowledges that all this work for benefit improvements will come too late for them.

    One of the finest players of the 50’s and 60’s, who was always present in email and blog conversations with his PLEA for better benefits, was placed in hospice care recently. Unaware of his condition, it was just a month or so before his diagnosis that he wrote about his disappointment in the circumstances he hoped a degree of football family caring might alleviate. Once again, a brain related problem will take another one of our men and yes, at 77 years old many are “not surprised” when someone passes…..but how long did he do without the concern and care….the answer will soon be “always”.

    How is it that being a part of the impressive, exciting, dynamic, powerful NFL family can be so heart breaking for so many? And yet somehow, the oldest of our men are still proud of their contribution to the game, the team and the NFL….too bad the feeling is not reciprocal.

  8. It is a shame that retired players over 75 are not eligible for the Long Term Insurance. Someone mentioned that those over 75 could pay some amount of money to get the LTC.

    Art Donovan Hall of Fame 1963

  9. Art, currently there is No provision for those over 75 to participate at all, including paying something towards the premium. I was wondering if that discussion even took place? Certainly something must be done for the “775 men” over 75 that Jane Arnett mentions in the comment above???

  10. Jeff- I recently was accepted into the program and the process couldn’t have been easier. After emailing the information Transamerica requested, I was contacted by a visiting nurse who made an appointment at my residence for a follow up evaluation. That meeting lasted approximately 40 minutes. I strongly encourage all retirees to take advantage of this opportunity.

  11. Jeff, I to was just accepted into the program last week. My wife and I have had Long Term Care Insurance for about 10 years now. I didn’t think Transamerica’s questions were any more invasive than the questions I was asked 10 years ago. This program will save me about $2000.00 a year so I am happy.
    Dan LaRose

  12. Do think this is program is going in the direction of what the NFLPA stated when they did not support it…750 players out of approximately 5,000 is about 20% and do think the funds could have been used to increase pension benefits for all who are vested and allowing the person to decide,rather than the statement that was made about former players not being responsible enough to make a good decision.I was on the phone for about 2 hours with them explaining and encouraging me to sign up my wife for this program.Glad to know that after i finish with them they will be sending a nurse out for the final evaluation…Do wish the number of former players that were denied was mentioned …do know they have those numbers as well…and I too,encourage all former players to apply that meet the age requirements ,regardless of the hoops and hurdles…
    Dewey McClain

  13. Ray Easterling

    I appreciate everyone’s comments, however, just as disability benefits have been denied for those who really need it, I was denied the program! I guess the situation of head injuries is a dis-qualifier, but neck, back, and crippling arthritis is not. I think it is great and would advise everyone to get their applications in promptly because this is a very good program being offered to you and your spouse.

    There should be no hesitation on your part because if this had been offered even 6 months ago, then I would have been covered.We do not know what the future holds, because I never thought I would go out this way-so take advantage of it-I have done the due diligence and you should, to be redundant, grab a great benefit now. It’s one way, even though it’s by the owner’s own volition, for the union to take credit for something they do not do. Anybody except me, think that all the money floating around inside the union, with “no accountability strange”? The real story is about to be written-do you have the resolve needed to pressure the active players to change the present leadership and completely clean house? It’s time-it will be the first time in history that we unite-let’s get the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, of this world, to understand what has and is happening and not let one entity with an agenda influence them and others. I truly believe they would fight and clean house of this cess pool of the past and present leadership. Let them know-we are no after your money but we do need your help-will you help us and help us now? Anybody know these two personally? If you do -what is stopping you-I know we would be grateful. These are good men-they just need the unfiltered truth-here’s an example-Long Term Care-“Excludes the over 75 crowd and others”-now who do you think needs it the most-the one who qualify or the ones in need? I guess it’s true of football players-“we have big necks and little heads”! Ray Easterling

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