NFL Concussion Settlement: Annual Inflation Adjustments will Increase Monetary Awards

By Jeff Nixon
May. 25, 2018

Inflation isn’t normally looked upon as a good thing for our economy, but in the case of the NFL Concussion Settlement….it’s a very good thing.

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising and, consequently, the purchasing power of currency is falling.

Under the Settlement Agreement, on January 7 of each year, the Special Masters may direct an inflation adjustment to the Monetary Award amounts, not to exceed 2.5%, based on consideration of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers.

The Special Masters approved a 2.07% upward adjustment for Monetary Awards starting on January 7, 2018. Click to see the updated Monetary Award Grid values.

All Monetary Award Determination Notices issued after May 11, 2018, will use the updated Monetary Award amounts. If you have been paid a Monetary Award or Derivative Claimant Award after January 7, 2018, they will calculate the additional 2.07% to be added to your award and have the Trustee issue a "true-up" payment for that 2.07%.

You do not need to take any action to get this true-up payment.

If you have not yet received payment on a Notice of Monetary Award or Notice of Derivative Claimant Award previously issued, you will be paid the new Award amount including the 2.07% increase if and when your Award is paid.

I did a little math on this issue and came up with the following ballpark figures on what this could cost the NFL in 2018:

As of the January 16, 2018 claims report, the NFL issued 210 Monetary Award Notices totaling $256,729,033. A majority of those claims will not be adjusted for inflation because the award determinations were made before January 7, 2018

From January 16, 2018 to May 21, 2018, the NFL has issued an additional 209 Monetary Award Notices totaling $175,008,642. These monetary awards are subject to the inflation adjustment.

So, if you take $175,008,642 and multiply it by the inflation adjustment of 2.07% the total amount (to date) that will be added to all monetary awards will be approximately, $3,622,679.

The $3,622,679 increase in Monetary Awards is only based on the award determinations that have been made since January 7, 2018. We still have 7 months to go!

Former players have submitted 1,171 claims for Level 1.5 and Level 2 cognitive impairment, with 133 receiving monetary award notices and 165 being denied. That means 873 claims are still waiting to be resolved. Many of those claims are being audited. In addition to that, the Claims Administrator is still waiting for documentation from 606 players and lawyers.

At some point ALL of these Level 1.5 and Level 2 claims will be either approved or denied. Decisions on those claims will probably be made this year, so any player receiving a Monetary Award Notice from January 7, 2018 up until January 7, 2019 will be entitled to the 2.07% inflation adjustment increase. That also includes the awards for ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Many of the first year claims for monetary awards have been delayed due to audits, but with the inflation adjustment, it could end up benefiting the players that got approved after January 7, 2018.

Here are some examples:

On the highest end of the Monetary Award Grid, a Level 2 impairment of 3 million dollars (for players under 45) has now been increased by $62,100 and a Level 1.5 impairment of $1.5 million has now been increased by $31,050.

On the lowest end of the Monetary Award Grid, a Level 2 impairment of $50,000 (for players 80 years and older) has now increased by $1,035 and a Level 1.5 impairment of $25,000 has now increased by $578.

Here are some other sample increases:

$1 Million award = $20,700 increase

$500,000 award = $10,350 increase

$250,000 award = $5,175 increase

$100,000 award = $2,070 increase

We don’t know how much the inflation adjustment will end up costing the NFL this year, but let’s be real - it’s just a drop in the bucket for the owners. I wish I could say the same for former players and families who will need every penny of the increase to offset the “inflationary price of goods and services” -including medical bills.

An annual inflation adjustment and a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) is something former player advocates have asked the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association to consider for our Pension Plan, but we have never been able to get them to include it in any of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreements.

Thank goodness our lawyers were smart enough to negotiate an annual inflation adjustment into the NFL Concussion Settlement.