The number of New York public-sector early retirees allowed to collect both a state or local government paycheck and a full public pension benefit grew by over 4 percent from July 2018 to July 2019, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

At least 43 early retirees from previous state or local government jobs were approved to collect combined pay and pensions of $200,000 or more—including seven exceeding combined totals of $300,000.

The increase was largely driven by a 17 percent increase in 211 waivers granted for employees in state civil service titles—which accounted for 584 of the 973 active “double-dippers,” up from 500 in the same time period last year.

Section 211 of the state Retirement and Social Security Law requires public employees under the age of 65 to receive a special waiver in order to collect a public pension and a government paycheck simultaneously. However, public employers are required by law to conduct “extensive recruitment efforts” before invoking such a waiver as needed to attract qualified appointees. Without such a waiver, active public employees under 65 who are eligible to retire can still choose to file for pensions while they continue working, but their pension payments will be suspended once salary payments have exceeded $35,000 during a given year.

The seven individuals allowed to receive combined pensions and waivers totaling more than $300,000 are:

  • Robert Sweeney, Yonkers fire commissioner, whose combined total of $394,873 includes an approved pay of up to $200,000 and a pension of $194,873;
  • Thomas Krumpter, Lloyd Harbor police captain, whose combined total of $381,043 includes an approved pay of up to $238,000 and a pension of $143,043;
  • Patricia Sullivan-Kriss, an expert witness for the attorney general’s office, whose combined total of $348,491 includes approved pay of up to $125,000 and a pension of $223,491;
  • Anita Laremont, general counsel for the Department of City Planning in New York City, whose combined total of $319,209, includes an approved pay of up to $204,251 and a pension of $114,958;
  • Helena Williams, Nassau chief deputy county executive, whose combined total of $316,875 includes an approved pay of up to $187,000 and a pension of $129,875;
  • James Skopek, Suffolk County deputy commissioner of police, whose combined total of $309,461 includes an approved pay of up to $157,300 and a pension of $152,161; and
  • Edward Melnick, an expert witness for the attorney general’s office, whose combined total of $306,153 includes approved pay of up to $125,000 and a pension of $181,153.

The Empire Center’s database of Section 211 waivers lets taxpayers search through more than 9,200 applications, which include details such as employee names, authorized pay and employers seeking waivers.

Among the waivers in effect on January 1:

  • Over 20 percent of active waivers (199) have been granted continually since July 1, 2009, suggesting individuals are using what’s meant to be a temporary arrangement on a permanent basis;
  • 320 were approved for New York City, 131 going to district attorney offices;
  • 335 were approved for local governments outside New York City, with the most going to Suffolk County (34), Nassau County (33) and Schenectady County (18);
  • 221 were approved for New York State agencies, including 110 at the Attorney General’s office and 44 at the State University of New York; and
  • 79 were for school districts outside New York City.

The actual number of double-dippers eligible for six-figures may be considerably higher. Waivers are only required if the retiree hasn’t yet reached age 65 and authorizing entities do not report data uniformly.

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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