Firefighters who retired last year are pulling in annual pensions averaging $100,636 because the majority left on disability and is collecting three-quarters of their final salaries, a watchdog group said Tuesday.
Eight of the retirees are taking in $200,000 or more a year.
Officials said that 66 percent of all firefighters are currently receiving disability pensions.
The latest figures were disclosed by the Empire Center for Public Policy, which fought the city and state pension systems, as well as two FDNY unions, for four years to get the data.
“When pensions need to be funded, it is the taxpayers who have to answer the call,” said Tim Hoefer, the group’s director.
“It is unfortunate that the unions and pension funds were so determined to prevent the public from seeing just what the taxpayers are on the hook for.”
The top beneficiary listed was former Associate Commissioner Michael Vecchi, who retired in 2013 and now gets $284,624 a year — a sum supplemented by an additional $50,000 in contributions he made annually independent of what was owed.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association slammed the data as misleading.
“We are offended that the term ‘firefighter’ is being used when, in fact, the top 500 pensioners are all management and chiefs,” said union spokesman Tom Butler. “To say they are firefighters is not true.”
It was just a week ago that the UFA and Mayor de Blasio traded jabs over improving disability pensions, which were reduced six years ago for new hires.
The mayor pushed through a City Council resolution calling on the state to grant 75 percent disability benefits only to recent hires whose injuries qualify them for federal benefits.
The union, which wants a restoration of full benefits, denounced that effort as “a stain on democracy.”
A law that took effect in 2009 reduced disability pensions for new FDNY and other uniformed hires to 50 percent of their pay, instead of the 75 percent available to those who came on the job earlier.
The mayor has argued that any additional benefits need to strike a balance with budgetary concerns.
“Our city’s heroes need strong disability protections, and our city needs a pension system that doesn’t unfairly burden taxpayers,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.
“The mayor’s plan ensures that brave uniformed men and women would receive fair coverage they need and deserve in the event of severe disability, while shielding taxpayers from an exorbitant unfunded mandate estimated as high as $6 billion.”
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