Although the average pension for 2016 Fire Department of New York (FDNY) retirees is down from the previous year, a majority of them are eligible for six-figure retirement paydays.
According to data from SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website, some 264 of the 420 FDNY 2016 retirees will be receiving pensions of $100,000 or higher—with 17 of them eligible for pensions over $200,000. This brings the six-figure pensioner average to 20% (3,184) of the total 15,606 FDNY retirees—more than doubling 2011’s 8% average (1,297).
The average pension for a 2016 FDNY retiree is $117,914, a slight drop from 2015’s $120,799 average. The highest pensioner is currently Michael A. Vecchi, who collects $316,253. Vecchi retired in 2013 with 41 years of service. The average tenure for a 2016 FDNY retiree was 23.1 years of service, up from 2015’s 22.7 years. The collective pension-eligible service credit averaged 22.4 years.
Firefighter and fire officer pensions tend to reflect a high number of retirees with line-of-duty disability pensions. This allows them to collect 75% of their salaries, compared to the usual benefit rate of 50%. According to Empire Center, higher benefits also include payments from an optional, guaranteed-return supplemental account supported by additional savings contributions by firefighters and fire officers who choose to participate in that plan. The think tank suggests that the slim decline in 2016 pensions is attributed to less disability-based retirements.
However, the retirement system is the biggest underperformer of New York City’s five municipal employee pension funds, reporting a net liability of $8.9 billion with assets equal to 57% of liabilities in fiscal 2016.