Health Insurance

Another warning sign on New York’s growing pension disaster

The average FDNY retiree from the last Twelve months will collect $120,000 a year, guaranteed for a lifetime – along with a dozen will pull more than $200,000. But that is only a corner from the city's pension mess.

The figures originate from a brand new Empire Center report, which notes the average FDNY pension is up 6 percent over the prior year. Current law grants them free medical health insurance, too.

With today's life spans, many will haul in their booty for decades. Yet their good deal could spell disaster for the city.

Firefighters are heroes: They rush into peril in order to save people when other people are running another way. On 9/11, 343 gave their lives.

But something's reached give. To begin with, the FDNY retirement system's assets are simply 55 percent of their long-term liabilities – and that is by a confident count.

Worse, the city's annual pension costs will hit $10 billion in two years – meaning almost $1 of every $6 in tax receipts will go for retirees. When Mike Bloomberg became mayor, total pension costs were just $1.4 billion.

Part from the mess is poor returns on pension investments. But a bigger concern is the ever-juicier benefits promised to city workers – benefits often “won” by union support for politicians.

For firefighters, what the law states automatically presumes that retirees' heart and lung troubles are service-related – which triggers a “disability” pension based on 75 percent of final average pay, instead of 50 percent.

Some from the “disabled” (and a lot of others) rack up major overtime in their last years at work – inflating that “final average pay” base.

And a lot of “disabilities” just aren't real, because the Post has reported – witness Lt. “Johnny Lungs” McLaughlin, who got an $86,000 disability pension after which competed in marathons.

In any event, the pension squeeze will force the town to choose: Get Albany to pass through serious reform fast – or reduce things like schools, cops and . . . well, firefighters.