When Should You Draw Your NFL Pension?

Posted September 19th, 2008 by RetiredPlayers

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.”

football-moneyAlthough 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
Before 1982 $250
1982 - 1992 $255
1993 - 1994 $265
1995 - 1996 $315
1997 $365
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
45 0.452
46 0.487
47 0.525
48 0.567
49 0.612
50 0.662
51 0.717
52 0.777
53 0.844
54 0.918
55 1.000
56 1.091
57 1.191
58 1.305
59 1.431
60 1.573
61 1.733
62 1.913
63 2.118
64 2.352
65 2.619

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  If you have not logged on to before you can call (800) 638-3186 to set up an account.

10 Responses to “When Should You Draw Your NFL Pension?”

  1. comment number 1 by: John Hogan

    Excellent information on retirement benefits. I just wanted to remind retired players that under current Plan rules, if they take their retirement, they cannot subsequently file for disability. (The recent Alliance “window” was a one-time exception to that rule.) This is one of many provisions of the plan that we need to have changed.

  2. comment number 2 by: samaji akili

    I am a paying member of the NFLPA players association. the annual dues is $100.00 per year. MY question is why is there no support from the union, for players of the 70`s who are short one ,two or three games because of political reasons,who should be vested.——-Samaji Thanks

  3. comment number 3 by: George Visger

    I have been a dues paying NFL Alumni since I was drafted in the 6th round by the NY Jets in 1980 and played briefly with Wesley Walker, before being cut at the end of preseason. It breaks my hear to hear of his struggles. After the Jets released me I was picked up by the S.F. 49ers the 3rd game of 1980 and suffered the last of many concussions the first play I played with the 49ers “vs” Dallas. Finished the season and came back in 1981. Suffered a knee surgery (2 more on it since, including 2 stainless steel molly bolts and a Gore Tex ACL) and had the first of my 9 brain surgeries several weeks into the 1981 season after my knee surgery. Underwent emergency brain surgery @ Stanford Hospital in Sept of 1981 during our first Super Bowl Championship season, where they installed a VP Shunt in my brain to drain spinal fluid into my abdomen. Have subsequently had 7 (or 8, lost track) VP shunt revisions. I go into a coma when ever the shunt fails, and I also developed grand mal seizures from my brain surgeries. I am currently on 150 mg of Phenobarbital/day for seizures and 20 mg of Lexapro/day for memory issues.

    I am now 50 yrs old, and of course having major short term memory problems among a host of other problems (fractured C6 & C7 vertebrae in neck, fractured S8 in back, arthritic lf knee). I was force to sue the 49 er’s for Workers Compensation to get 2 more brain surgeries I had May of 1982 after we won the Super Bowl paid for, as they stated I was never injured playing for them. Settled my WC case in 1986, and returned to school to finish my Biology degree in 1990 after 4 more brain surgeries and 2 grand mal seizures in one 10 month period while I was running my own General Contracting business and finishing up my Bio degree.

    I contacted the NFL Players Association in 1981 for help and again last week. Both times I was turned away (this last time because I only had 2 credited seasons and am not vested) I have always done whatever it takes to get things done, but am having serious short term memory and anger management problems. I have a wife (who teaches and will be losing her job in May due to California budget cuts) and 3 children ages 9 – 17.

    I am approaching you for information on where I (we, ex players) can get help (with my memory, anger problems) so I can continue to take care of my family.
    I would greatly appreciate any information you have which may help me in this dire situation.

    Thank you,

    George Visger
    Principal Wildlife Biologist
    Visger & Associates Environmental Consulting
    12865 Ridge Road
    Grass Valley, CA 95945
    O (530) 272-4834
    C (916) 812-2257
    [email protected]

  4. comment number 4 by: Albert Wilder

    I played with the Jets from 1964-1967. We were only given $ 200.00 per month for years played. 200×4= $800.00 the $250 formula would have helped us a little. I took my retirement at 62.

  5. […] soon. Your figures are way, way off. Also, he can’t start drawing his pension until he’s 55. When Should You Draw Your NFL Pension? | RetiredPlayers.Org __________________ I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. […]

  6. […] there’s the poverty level pension for retired NFL players. Players are fully vested after three years in the league. Once they retire, they can begin […]

  7. comment number 7 by: Not a deadbeat

    Can the mother of my child make me take my pension before I want to because of child support?

  8. comment number 8 by: RetiredPlayers.Org

    Questions regarding spousal rights to benefits should be directed to the NFL Player Benefits Office. Their number is (800) 638-3186.

  9. comment number 9 by: Fumbles « From Pine View Farm

    […] Little was one of the lucky ones, at least in football terms–a big star with a long career and many honors. The average pro football career is less than four years and the retirement benefits are surprisingly miserly. […]

  10. comment number 10 by: jeff van note

    The pop up clause can also apply to players who get divorced and the wife signs a Quadro in the divorce; giving up all rights to a players pension.There have been 2 or 3 cases where this has been enacted in the past year. I believe the player would then be given a life only pension amount, increasing his pension .Evidence of a Quadro must be presented and the ex-wife needs to sign a statement of that fact. If you know of any ex-players in this situation, contact the Bert Bell in Baltimore.