SignaturePRO: NFL Player Neurocognitive Disability Benefits Expiring

DEADLINE APPROACHING: NFL Player Neurocognitive Disability Benefits Expiring

The 2011 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), an update to the labor agreement between the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the National Football League (NFL), included a new type of disability plan, the Neurocognitive Disability Benefit. This benefit is eligible to all former NFL players, under the age of 55, who have experienced cognitive impairments due to injuries sustained during their NFL careers. It is potentially a great benefit, especially given that it offers a more substantial and longer-term payout than the more familiar Line of Duty Disability benefit.

However, the deadline to apply for the Neurocognitive Disability Benefit is expiring in less than a month, December 31, 2018. So, players hoping to qualify need to apply now.

Below are some important facts to know about the Neurocognitive Disability Benefit.

  • Who is eligible?
    • Former NFL Players who are:
      • Under the age of 55
      • Vested in the NFL Pension Plan based on credited seasons (3 seasons with at least one occurring after 1994)
      • NOT receiving Total and Permanent Disability Benefits or retirement benefits from their pension plan
      • Note: The Neurocognitive Disability Plan is typically seen as providing a more attractive benefit than the Line of Duty Benefit, so for some, it may be worth trying to switch benefits.
  • What is considered a qualifying neurocognitive disability?
    • A physician approved by the Disability Initial Claims Committee must find that the player has mild or moderate neurocognitive impairment as defined below.
      • Mild impairment: mild objective impairment in one or more domains of neurocognitive functioning, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life
      • Moderate impairment: moderate objective impairment in two or more domains of neurocognitive functioning, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life
  • What are the benefits?
    • Benefits differ depending on whether a player is considered to have “mild” cognitive impairment or “moderate” cognitive impairment.
      • Mild Impairment: Benefit is typically 1) the GREATER of 50% of the player’s total NFL pension amount, excludes “special credits” that came from credited seasons earned from 1982-1996, OR, 2) $3,000 per month (as of 1/1/19).
      • Moderate Impairment: Benefit is typically the GREATER of the player’s total NFL Pension amount, excludes “special credits” that came from credited seasons earned from 1982-1996, OR, 2) $5,000 per month (as of 1/1/19).

The Neurocognitive Disability Plan is set to expire at the end of the 2011 CBA’s term, unless it is deliberately extended in the new 2021 CBA, a scenario that many pundits believe is unlikely. The application process is complex, so those seeking these benefits should work with a financial advisor who has experience in helping NFL players get approved for benefits.

For more information or assistance in applying for the Neurocognitive Disability benefit, please contact Rob Vaka at rob.vaka@signaturefd.com.

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