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40-something and retired on our dime

Most cops and firefighters in this state can retire on a full pension after putting in just 20 years on the job. A lot of them get some or all of their health insurance paid for until the day they die, to boot.

Put another way, those who live to a ripe old age will draw a pension for twice as long as they work.

The New York Post published a story the other day that focused on the impact for NYC:

The city's pension system is collapsing under the weight of payments it makes to more than 10,000 retired cops -- all under the age of 50...

An average 42-year-old male firefighter has a life expectancy of 81, according to mortality tables from the New York City Office of the Actuary. A 42-year-old cop can expect to live to 80.

Because many cops and firefighters retire in their 40s, that means they might collect 40 years of pension checks -- topping $2 million apiece.

NY Public Payroll Watch picked it up from there:

Elsewhere in New York, most police officers ... belong to the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). According to the system's Comprehensive Annual Financial Plan, the vast majority of the 15,486 currently active uniformed members are in "20 and out" plans, which have no minimum retirement age and which require no employee contribution...

The Post story does not take account of another key cost for the retirees -- health benefits. Cops and firefighters throughout the state, like most other public-sector retirees from civilian occupations, can remain in the municipal or state health insurance program after retirement.

This comes at a steep cost to taxpayers.

In Buffalo, for example, City Hall is spending $17.6 million on police and fire pensions this fiscal year. The cost of pensions for all other city workers pales by comparison -- $4.3 million -- because they make less money and have to work longer to retire.

Health insurance costs for retirees are another financial sink hole. Buffalo's unfunded liability approaches $1 billion, much of it for retired police officers and firefighters.

Not to worry, though. We've got Sen. Diane Savino on the job.


City Hall | State government
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