League, union announce pension benefit increase

Updated: July 27, 2006, 8:35 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Player benefits and pension payments will be going up for current and former NFL players under an agreement reached Thursday between the league and the union.

The improvements are part of the recently extended collective bargaining agreement and will cost approximately $120 million per year. That will raise the annual cost of player benefits to $700 million a year.

It's the fourth time since 1993 that benefit improvements have been made for current and retired players.

"These improvements are consistent with our commitment in every negotiation to address post-career issues and improve the benefits of retired players," NFL executive vice president Harold Henderson said. "No other industry reaches back like this to take care of former employees."

Retired players now receive nearly $60 million a year from the retirement plan. Three other funds provide more than $1 million a year in financial assistance to retired NFL players in need.

"The current players have great respect for the heritage of the NFL and the former players that have contributed to the leagues success," said NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw. "As they have done on previous occasions, the current players strongly supported the idea of using a portion of their negotiated benefits money to fund improvements for the retired players."

Pensions of retired players will increase 25 percent for amounts earned before 1982 and by 10 percent for amounts earned in 1982 and later. The minimum increase for retired players will be $50 per month.

Benefits will be tripled for the survivors of a player who dies before his retirement benefits begin.

Beginning next year, players retired under the pension plan will have some coverage for dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, regardless of their age when care becomes necessary.

There also are provisions for paying tuition expenses for retired players; a 401K savings plan; annuity programs; insurance; severance pay; and disability benefits.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press