Albany, NY— Nearly 70% of the 470 New York City Fire Department (FDNY) retirees last year were eligible for six-figure pensions, the data shows. posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Exactly 333 retirees received pensions over six figures, with 44 people eligible for pensions over $200,000.
Among the 369 new retirees with at least 20 years of service, pensions averaged $140,940. More than three-quarters (285) were eligible for pensions over $100,000.
Including the 44 new retirees, 336 retired FDNY employees were eligible to collect more than $200,000 in pension payments last year. Nearly a third (4,896) of all FDNY retirees were eligible for pensions over $100,000 last year.
The highest new pension went to retired Deputy Chief Peter M. Leicht, who was eligible to collect at an annual rate of $294,521 per year.
In the past, the high average level of FDNY pensions partly reflected the number of firefighters receiving in-service disability pensions, which are 75% of salary, compared to the 50% available under normal pensions. The data does not differentiate between invalidity pensions and service pensions.
The higher benefits also include payments from an optional additional guaranteed return account backed by additional savings contributions by firefighters and firefighters who choose to participate in this scheme.
The data is only available through the Empire Center’s ongoing litigation efforts, which have led to a 2015 court ruling upholding public right to see beneficiary names and FDNY pension amounts. A similar case seeking New York police pension data is pending in state court.
The Albany-based Empire Center is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to advancing policies that can make New York City a better place to live, work and raise a family.