Ninety-five out of 933 state Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members who retired in 2011 qualified for a pension of more than $100,000, according to data posted at SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. The proportion was lower than in 2008, 2009 and 2010, when the number of retirees and their benefits were swelled by early retirement incentives, but remains more than three times higher than a decade ago.
The average pension for all newly retired PFRS members came to $60,798, while pensions averaged $25,721 for members of the New York State Employee Retirement System. According to the system’s 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, newly retired members with at least 35 years of service were eligible for average pension benefits of $97,793 and $55,858, respectively.
The benefit levels shown in the database are the maximum allowable benefits, which can exceed the amount actually collected by those retirees who, for example, opt to receive less in order to preserve a continuing benefit for their survivors. Maximum allowable benefits for the 367,806 retired NYSLRS members as of the end of fiscal year 2011-12 totaled more than $8.4 billion – up from nearly $7.7 billion in fiscal year 2010-11.
NYSLRS covers most employees of the state government, public authorities, counties, cities, towns and villages outside New York City, whose employees belong to separate municipal pension plans. NYSLRS also covers those school district employees not covered by the New York State Teachers Retirement System.
Click here for tables listing the top 100 pensioners and average pensions by retirement year and a graph illustrating growth of PFRS pensions.
Users of SeeThroughNY can search the pension database by name, pension system, last known employer, year, and benefit amount. The state pension database now contains data for fiscal years 2012, 2011, and 2010.
The Albany-based Empire Center is a project of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit 501(c)3 think tanks.