How Does the NFL’s Pension Plan Work?

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The National Football League’s pension plan provides a benefit credit to its players for each season that they play. Players are vested in the plan after they have played at least three credited seasons.

The NFL’s current pension plan applies to players who have had at least one credited season since 1993. Each season credit that a player earns adds a certain amount to his eventual monthly pension payment. Players are credited for a full season if they are on the active roster, injured reserve or physically unable to perform (PUP) list for at least three games during the regular season. Players can begin receiving this monthly pension when they reach age 55.

The league also offers an annuity program to players who have completed at least four credited seasons. The contribution amount varies by season. Players can begin receiving this benefit at age 35 if they have been out of the league for at least five years and can opt for monthly or annual payments.

The NFL also offers a plan similar to a 401(k). The Second Career Savings Plan can match up to double the amount of player contributions, with an annual maximum of $24,000 to $28,000 depending on the calendar year. Players can begin participating in the savings plan after their second credited season.