The Disability Payment Plans for the Most Dangerous Sport

disability payment plansThe NFL’s Disability Payment Plans

Football is a dangerous sport, however, the degree of risk is somewhat mitigated by the fact that disability payment plans exist for former players. 

Athletes get hurt often, and the sport of football is no exception to this. Numerous players have seen their careers end following devastating injuries. Typically, in terms of general employment outside of athletics, individuals struck with a disability receive payments based on their average lifetime earnings.

NFL figures weigh in on disability payment plans

Of course, football is a different career than many others, even within the realm of sports. In fact, Doug Whaley, general manager of the Buffalo Bills, stated humans aren’t meant to play football due to the violent nature of the game. 

Charles Dimry, who played in the NFL for 12 years, suffered a neck injury during his career, one that affected him permanently, according to Law360. He is still dealing with severe radicular symptoms and long-term degenerative complications. Despite Dimry’s belief that he qualifies for disability benefits, the league has not agreed thus far, resulting in a lawsuit. So, if allegedly permanent and debilitating neck pain does not make someone eligible for disability payment plans, what does?

4 Categories for Disability Payment Plans

There are four categories of total and permanent disability payment plans under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan:

  • Active non-football: These payments are doled out if an active player’s disability occurs outside of football, and is permanent. Income amounts to $165,000 per year. 
  • Active football: Players fall within this category if their permanent disability directly stems from football activities. Annual income is $265,000. 
  • Inactive A: This sort of benefit is for vested players whose injury is the result of football activities and turns into a permanent disability before 15 years after the individual’s final credited season. Yearly payment for this category is $135,000.
  • Inactive B: These payments are also for vested players whose injury stems from football activities and ends up as a permanent disability after the 15 year threshold from the individual’s final credited season. Annual income for this sort of benefit is $60,000.

Permanent disability means that the individual is not able to work any job at all. The reason Dimry has not received benefits is because the league claims he can work a desk job. If you want to learn more about the NFL’s retirement and disability payment plans, consult an experienced sports law attorney.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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