Family of Former NFL Player Gets Additional Disability Benefits

December 14, 2006 ( - The family of National Football League (NFL) Hall of Famer Mike Webster has won additional disability benefits due to him prior to his death from the league's pension plan.

The New York Times reports the appellate panel for the 4 th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a 2005 trial court ruling that Webster was totally and permanently disabled as a result of brain injuries from playing professional football. Webster’s four children and former wife will be awarded $1.5 million to $2 million as a result of the decision.

Webster, now deceased, had filed a disability claim from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL player retirement plan and supplemental disability plan after retiring in 1991. The league awarded him a disability plan for players who develop injuries six months after they retire, which falls under a degenerative disability plan, according to the Times.

Webster’s estate moved to reclassify his disability as occurring at retirement, which would place him a plan that paid almost twice what the degenerative disability plan paid. The attorney who filed the case on behalf of Webster said in the news report several physicians had determined Webster had been disabled since March of 1991.

The NFL pension board unanimously voted to keep Webster in the degenerative disability plan. The attorney representing Webster said the fact that he showed up at a few autograph signings made people consider him engaged in gainful employment.