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Where Did the City’s Nearly $13 Billion in Pension Payments Go in 2017?

Last year New York City’s five pension systems for municipal employees paid $12.9 billion in benefits to more than 332,000 retirees or their beneficiaries. While many retired city workers remain in the five boroughs, many others collect their pension checks in states and counties all around the country—there are no residency requirements for pension eligibility. IBO has taken a look at how much of last year’s pension payouts flow to other parts of the U.S. and where they go.

Payments to New York City Government Retirees and Beneficiaries by U.S. County, 2017


Data in table format here.

  • Of the $12.9 billion in payments made by the city’s pension funds in 2017, $5.5 billion, or 43 percent, was paid to recipients living in New York City. Payments to municipal retirees within the state of New York equaled $9.3 billion, or 73 percent of total payments over the year.
  • The average per capita payment to all beneficiaries in 2017 was $38,711, with a median of $34,259. The comparable figure for New York State was $40,098. Among the states with at least 100 city retirees, pensioners living in Hawaii received the largest average payment: $41,700.
  • Among municipal retirees still living in New York City, per capita benefit payments averaged $36,092. Of the 25 largest counties by recipient population nationwide, Orange County, New York, had the highest per capita payments, $55,524.

Number of New York City Government Retirees by U.S. County, 2017

Data in table format here.

  • About 46 percent of retirees receiving pensions from the city live in one of the five boroughs. An additional 22 percent live in one of the six nearby New York State counties.
  • Of the top 10 counties in which New York City pension recipients resided, only one was outside of New York State—Palm Beach, Florida, with 7,868 city pensioners. Other leading counties home to New York City government pensioners included Broward County, Florida; and Ocean, Monmouth, and Bergen counties in New Jersey.
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia have New York City pensioners residing within their borders, from 5 in North Dakota to the 35,410 Floridians who were paid $1.3 billion in pension benefits in 2017. The 1,601 beneficiaries living in Puerto Rico received $42 million in benefits, while an additional $24.4 million was paid to 866 retirees living outside the United States and its territories.
  • After New York and Florida, the eight other states with the most New York City government retirees are New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, California, and Connecticut.
Prepared by Robert Callahan
New York City Independent Budget Office

Print version available here.

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