NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of city workers are on a mad dash to apply for pensions before a new state law kicks in on Sunday. The new retirement programs will save the city billions because they dramatically cut benefits.
They were calling out numbers at the New York City Employees Retirement System offices Thursday, and although they weren’t giving out winning Mega Millions tickets, many will be set for life.
“It just seems like a good idea to just join now because things changing,” Parks Department employee John Ernsberger told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
For Ernsberger, and thousands of other city employees, this week is like the California gold rush. You got to get in while the getting’s good.
“Today and it’s only about 11:30, we’ve had 700 tickets being pulled yesterday. We had almost 2,500 tickets being pulled and that’s been consistent for the week,” NYCER general counsel Karen Mazza said.
The reason for this rush to apply is very simple. The new pension law that goes into effect on Sunday is far less generous than the old one.
Under the current pension plan, Tier 4, an employee working for the city for 12 years and making $100,000 would:
* Pay $1,885 a year toward their pension
* Stop paying after 30 years
* Be able to retire at age 57
Under the new pension plan, Tier 6, that same employee would:
* Pay $6,000 a year
* Pay every year they work
* Be able to retire at age 63
And while it was standing room only at the pension office, everything ran smoothly.
“The best thing to say is that we were prepared,” Mazza said.
Many say getting in under the wire is all about securing a better future for themselves and their families.
“Try to get the best rate as I can,” one person said.
“I will have more benefits if I apply now,” another said.
“Definitely want to retire earlier, yes,” another worker said.
“I don’t wan to miss out,” another added.
“Want to be able to be secure and have a pension” and “the old system is a little bit better so in trying to get into that,” were other answers Kramer received.
To accommodate the crowds the retirement office will stay open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the very first time. Officials said the new pension plan will save the city $21 billion over the next 30 years.
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