Nearly five billion dollars in pension payments were made in 2020 to more than 150,000 members of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), according to new data posted today at, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

Among newly retired members (defined as those who retired in 2019 and collected their first full-year pension in 2020):

  • 5,880 had 20 or more years of service credit and an average pension of $53,539;
  • 545 retirees from the Department of Corrections had the highest average pension, among agencies with more than five retirees, of $73,109;* and
  • the Transit Authority had the most new retirees with 1,880 and an average benefit of $52,751.

Among all 150,563 NYCERS retirees, 1,609 received six-figure pensions. The largest individual payouts (some of which include back pay along with the pension benefit) were:

  • Nicolas Audi, retired from the Department of Environmental Protection in 2018, at $639,057, including $267,358 in “back pay”;
  • Clifford Clark, retired from the Department of Transportation in 2010, at $453,404, including $393,030 in “back pay”;
  • Roger Smoke, retired from Health and Hospitals Corporation in 2014, at $291,425;
  • Eugene Egan, retired from the Department of Sanitation in 2015, at $288,436; and
  • Elizabeth Harris, retired from Health and Hospitals Corporation in 2017, at $276,785, including $190,074 in “back pay”.

Among newly retired members, the highest payouts were:

  • Susan Lukin, retired from the Administration for Children’s Services, at $251,941, including 82,754 in “back pay”;
  • Todd Riben, retired from the Department of Environmental Protection, at $251,179;
  • John Zarnitz, retired from the Department of Environmental Protection, at $248,619;
  • Salvatore Montanino, retired from the Transit Authority, at $238,256, including $82,251 in “back pay;” and
  • Stacey Moriates, retired from the Department of Environmental Protection, at $237,355.

* Pension benefits for certain Corrections and other retirees include a year-end Variable Supplements Fund (VSF) payment of $12,000 per retiree—aka “Christmas-bonuses.”

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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