Retirement benefits of professional athletes

Retirement benefits: National Hockey League
Retirement benefits: National Hockey League

The National Hockey League initiated a pension plan in 1947, though its benefits were said to be minuscule before a series of changes that began in the late 1980s.

Today, players automatically join the NHL pension plan after playing one regular season game. In the 2013 collective bargaining agreement, the players negotiated a new defined benefit plan. The plan allows players with 10 full seasons to receive the maximum allowable pension under IRS limits starting at age 62. Players with fewer than 10 seasons will receive a prorated amount of the pension.

The NHL had previously switched from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan in 1986. Under the old defined contribution plan, retired NHL members who were credited with fewer than 160 games -- roughly equal to two seasons in the league -- received the maximum contribution under Canadian law (approximately 23,000 Canadian dollars in 2012). Contributions to the plan for U.S. club members were paid in U.S. dollars. Those credited with 160 games or more received the maximum contribution under U.S. law, which was $50,000 for 2012.

NHL players will start collecting a pension under the old defined contribution plan at age 45, while early retirement with reduced benefits is an option starting at age 35.



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