If you are one of the NFL players whose career lasted long enough to qualify for NFL pension benefits you will need to decide when to begin drawing your pension. The Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan defines “Normal Retirement Age” as “the first day of the calendar month coincident with or next following a Player’s 55th birthday.”
Although the NFL retirement plan defines normal retirement age as 55 years old, many players begin drawing their pensions early. A player may do this for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons given for NFL players drawing their pensions early include the belief that they would only live into their early 50’s and the need for money to pay for medical expenses related to their NFL injuries.
Only retired players who played at least one NFL season prior to 1993 may elect to begin to receive benefits as of their 45th birthday. All other players must wait until age 55.
Players who begin drawing their NFL pension before age 55 are penalized for doing so. This is referred to as “early retirement”. For example, a player who begins drawing his pension benefits at age 45 would only receive 45.2% of the monthly benefit that he would receive if he waited to draw his NFL pension at age 55.
If a player waits until later than his 55th birthday to begin drawing his NFL pension, his monthly benefit will increase. This is referred to as “deferred retirement”.
Here are the basics of how an NFL monthly pension benefit is calculated:
(Sum of benefit credits) x (Early or deferred retirement factor) = Monthly pension benefit
To find the amount of your monthly benefit:
1. Find the sum of your benefit credits using the table below:
|Credited Season||Benefit Credit|
|1982 - 1992||$255|
|1993 - 1994||$265|
|1995 - 1996||$315|
|1998 - Final League Year||$470|
If you played from 1982 to 1985 the sum of your benefit credits would be:
$250 + $255 + $255 + $255 = $1,015
2. Find your early or deferred retirement factor using the following table:
|Age||Early or Deferred Retirement Factor|
3. Multiply the sum of your benefit credits by your early or deferred retirement factor.
Here are is an example of how much your monthly benefit can vary depending on when you decide to draw your pension. If you played from 1982 to 1985 and begin drawing your pension at:
Age 45: $1,015 x 0.452 = $458.78 per month
Age 55: $1,015 x 1.000 = $1,015 per month
Age 60: $1,015 x 1.573 = $1,596.60 per month
Age 65: $1,015 x 2.619 = $2,658.29 per month
The monthly benefit amounts listed above are for a “Life only pension”, meaning that an NFL player will receive his monthly benefit until he dies. Many players with families elect to receive a form of NFL pension that has a survivor benefit. If a player elects to receive a pension with a survivor benefit then the amount of the monthly benefit will change as well. If the player dies before his beneficiary, the beneficiary will continue to receive a benefit from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan for a certain period of time.
You can read more about NFL pension survivor benefits by clicking HERE.
People have different financial needs at different times of their lives. Knowing how your age affects the amount of your monthly NFL pension benefit will help you evaluate when to begin drawing your pension.
To learn more about your pension and other benefits you can visit the NFL Player Benefits Office website at www.mygoalline.com. If you have not logged on to www.mygoalline.com before you can call (800) 638-3186 to set up an account.