Lawmakers push for better disability pensions for cops and firefighters

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 03 Maret 2015 | 18.18

State lawmakers are pushing legislation again to restore more generous disability pensions to recently hired cops and firefighters — drawing fire from a budget watchdog who warned the cost would run into tens of millions of dollars.

Nearly all uniformed officers hired before 2009 are eligible for three-quarter pensions — tax free — if they're injured on the job.

But newer hires only get 50 percent.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn), sponsor of the bill to raise the payouts, said in some cases officers forced to retire for a career-ending injury — after just a few years on the job — get only $30 a day.

He pointed to the case of Rosa Rodriguez, the officer who suffered lung damage after responding to a Coney Island fire last spring.

"If she were unable to work and forced to be on disability benefits, we estimate those benefits to be $22,000 a year," said Abbate, who noted that Rodriguez is enrolled in a less generous Tier 3 pension category.

"If she were a Tier 2 pension member we estimate her benefit to be about $39,000 a year."

This isn't the first time uniformed unions have tried to raise disability pensions, which are collected by about 63 percent of retired firefighters.

Former Gov. David Paterson — at the behest of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg — vetoed a measure in 2009 that would have provided the three-quarters disability benefits to all qualified police and fire retirees.

The Citizens Budget Commission warned the change would undo hard-fought savings the city achieved in a pension overhaul that governors Cuomo and Paterson helped implement.

"Skyrocketing pension costs — $8.2 billion in fiscal year 2013, up 235 percent from fiscal year 2004 — greatly affected the city's finances in the last decade," said CBC president Carol Kellermann.

The new pension tiers "are helping New York City to lower costs and balance the budget," she added.

An analysis by the city actuary estimated the added cost at $37.6 million this year and $94 million by 2019.

Mayor de Blasio was noncommital, with a spokesman saying: "While there are issues with this specific legislation, Mayor de Blasio's door is always open."


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