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Periodically, there are stories in the press focusing on six-figure pensions. Assertions that this is “proof” that public pensions are too generous and that defined benefit plans are unsustainable are the lingering sound bites.

The problem is the picture these stories paint is distorted because these assertions are not supported by important facts and context.

As the chart below illustrates, less than 2.0% of the nearly 156,000 people receiving a NYSTRS pension earn more than $100,000 a year. Most importantly, those 2,500 individuals worked an average of almost 40 years to earn their pensions. In other words, they worked long and hard to earn their retirement benefits.

The truth is the largest percentage of NYSTRS retirees (32.0%) earn pensions ranging between $40,000 and $60,000 annually. Almost 48,000 of our retirees fall in this range. More than 70,000 other retirees, or about 47.0% of the total, earn less than $40,000 a year.

The almost 22,500 people receiving pensions between $50,000 and $60,000 worked an average of 33.5 years to earn it. The more than 25,000 who earn between $40,000 and $50,000 in retirement worked almost 32 years.

The next time you hear complaints about six-figure pensions, help complete the picture by sharing these important facts.

Distribution of Annual Pensions

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