Albany, NY — Average pension benefits for newly retired public educators outside New York City who worked at least 30 years reached a record high of $73,552 last year, according to data posted today at SeeThroughNY.net.

The figures are from the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS), which covers school professionals across most of the state.

The 2,685 members of NYSTRS who retired during the 2020-21 school year with at least 30 years of credited service time are eligible for a maximum pension benefit averaging $73,552. The average maximum benefit earned by the 2,203 members of NYSTRS who retired during the 2019-20 school year with at least 30 years of credited service time was $71,074.

More than ten percent of these new retirees (289) are eligible for six-figure pensions, the highest being the $271,275 maximum benefit earned by former Locust Valley School District Superintendent, Dr. Anna Hunderfund.

Reflecting regional salary differences, average pensions among the new retirees are highest among those retiring from New York City suburban districts. The Long Island region had the highest average pension at $94,108, as shown in the table below. The top five individual pensions also belong to retirees from schools in either Nassau or Westchester counties.

Average Eligible Benefit for 2020-21 NYSTRS Retirees with Over 30 Years of Experience
Region Number Avg. Benefit
Capital 271 $63,592
Central New York 224 $56,670
Finger Lakes 263 $61,754
Long Island 713 $94,108
Mid-Hudson 520 $83,668
Mohawk Valley 118 $57,785
North Country 108 $54,946
Southern Tier 196 $55,148
Western New York 272 $63,060
Total  2,685  $73,553

The average maximum pension for the entire cohort of 5,461 newly retired NYSTRS members is $55,017. That broader average includes both part- and full-time public school teachers, many of whom attained only a minimum five-year vesting requirement before leaving the system.

Among all NYSTRS members earning benefits in 2020-21 (both new retirees and earlier ones), 4,061 are eligible for six-figure pension benefits. Other six-figure pensioners included 50 retirees eligible for benefits of $200,000 to $300,000, and four eligible for pensions exceeding $300,000.

These data are made public thanks to the Empire Center’s successful court challenges against efforts by public agencies to conceal information from taxpayers. The Center remains involved in litigation to protect and expand the public’s ability to examine public pensions and spending.

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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