According to page six of Gene Upshaw’s “White Paper”, “there are 4,900 vested (3 seasons or more) former players who are eligible to apply for disability benefits under the NFL/NFLPA plan, not 10,000, as has been reported in some media outlets.” On May 16, 2007, Upshaw provided a written declaration to a Federal Court which states “there are over 13,000 retired NFL players alive today.”
Based on the information provided by Upshaw, just 4,900 of 13,000 former players are covered by the NFL/NFLPA disability plan. Only 37.6% of retired NFL players are eligible to even apply for NFL disability benefits. There is no guarantee a player will be awarded benefits. According to the “White Paper”, 62.4% of former players are ineligible for NFL disability benefits. If any of the remaining 62.4% of retired NFL players are in need of disability benefits due to their NFL related injuries, they must rely on other means, such as the taxpayer funded Social Security disability system. Many former players have qualified for Social Security disability benefits but have been denied NFL disability benefits.