Maximum eligible pension benefits for retirees of the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS) increased by at least $135 million in 2019, according to data posted today at SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

The Empire Center’s most recent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to NYCERS for “gross retirement benefit for calendar year 2019,” was only partially fulfilled, as the system excluded lump sum payments, most noticeably the annual Variable Supplement Fund (VSF) payments to uniformed correction force members. These payments of up to $12,000, informally known as the “Christmas bonus,” are made annually on Dec. 15.

A total of 1,086 NYCERS retirees as of 2019 were eligible for six-figure pensions, even without including the missing VSF payments to corrections retirees. The 589 uniformed corrections force members in their first full year of retirement led NYCERS members with an average annual benefit of $63,808, excluding the $12,000 VSF payment for which many of them would have been eligible.

Among the 7,833 total NYCERS members who retired in 2018 and collected their first full year of pension payments, the agency with the largest number of first full-year pension recipients was the Transit Authority, whose 1,762 new retirees averaged a maximum eligible benefit of $45,874.

The 2018 NYCERS retirees eligible for the highest pension benefits were:

  • Nicholas Audi, Department of Environmental Protection, $371,699;
  • Donald Iannuzzi, Transit Authority, $232,066;
  • Beatrice Miller, Office of Prosecution- Special Narcotics, $195,582;
  • Stewart Lazow, Health and Hospital Corporation, $194,379; and
  • George Hila, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, $171,031.

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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