New York City firefighters and fire officers retiring last year after full careers were entitled to average annual pension benefits of $149,783, up 11 percent from the prior year, according to new data added to SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website.
Out of a total of 15,796 FDNY retirees, the average pension as of fiscal 2023 came to $89,560, up $29,917 (50 percent) from $59,642 a decade ago. Both amounts include in-service disability payments for some.
Looking at the most recent data for all New York City Fire Pension Fund retirees, 464 retirees were eligible for pensions over $200,000, and seven were eligible for pensions over $300,000. The highest pension among all retirees went to retired Captain Patrick W. McEvoy, who was eligible for $364,162 after retiring in early 2022.
The figures include benefits from an optional program that allows members to make extra contributions to the plan, and the pension fund’s “Variable Supplement Fund,” a $12,000 payment to uniformed employees also known as “the Christmas bonus.”
Even assuming a generous 7 percent average rate of return on its investments, the Fire Pension Plan has an unfunded liability of more than $7 billion—equating to $700,000 per firefighter and fire officer on the job today. A 2021 Empire Center analysis of state retirement funds warned the Fire Pension Fund was “especially weak.”
The pensions are constitutionally guaranteed by New York taxpayers and are exempt from New York state income tax. New York City government retirees also receive city healthcare coverage at no cost.
The data are only publicly available thanks to the Empire Center’s successful 2014 lawsuit.