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How does the NFL pension work for retired players?

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Like many other professions, the NFL has a pension plan for its players. It is known as the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. All four major league sports in the United States have pension plans for their players.

NFL players have been covered by the pension plan since 1962. The current plan considers 55 to be the standard retirement age. Since the career of an NFL player can be very short and is extremely hard on the body, the pension fund is crucial for many players' futures.

How do NFL players qualify for the pension?

Once a player has been on an active roster for three years (or on injured reserve) they become fully vested, which means they qualify for the full NFL pension. If you’re interested in more specific details of the pension plan you can find out more here.

How much money do NFL players receive from their pension plan?

The amount of pension money an NFL player receives depends on when they retire. For example, according to Investopedia, if a player retired in the 1980s or 90s they could receive between $3000 to $5640 per month. NFL players who retire after 1998 receive $5,640 each month.

The amount is also based on the number of credited seasons played. Under the 2020 CBA agreement, player retirement funding was increased.

NFL pension plan controversy

The recent 2020 CBA agreement was not all good news for retired NFL players. The New York Times reported that some 400 former players' disability payments will decline.

Executive director of the NFL players union DeMaurice Smith released an open letter discussing the changes to the players' pensions.

“It is not a decision we wanted to make or took lightly, but in totality we believe that a system that will ultimately allow more men to qualify for disability payments was better, and that securing pensions for another decade was vitally important during an era when most Americans are losing any economic security retirement from their former employers,” Smith said.

As with all collective bargaining agreements, there’s always going to be some give and take that leaves certain parties unhappy.


Edited by Prem Deshpande
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