State Rep. Introduces Bill To Curb Pension ‘Spiking’

By Andy Sheehan, KDKA Investigator

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At the Allegheny County Jail, some retiring corrections officers have found a way to radically increase, or spike, their lifetime pension payout.

Under law, county employees’ pension benefits are determined not only by their base salary when they retire, but the overtime they average in their last two years. So, by working lots of overtime, some are giving their pension a very healthy boost.

“Essentially in some case result in double or triple their pension payments for 25 or 30 years, so the taxpayers are really losing out,” said State Rep. Matt Smith, D-Castle Shannon.

The KDKA Investigators’ review of overtime records of corrections officers showed that several piled on the overtime in their last two years before retirement.

One officer who had been averaging $7,000 a year in overtime made an average of $30,000 in his last two years while another who made an average of $13,000 a year in overtime jumped to an average of $40,000 in his last two years.

A third who had been averaging $36,000 a year in overtime made a staggering average of $61,000 in overtime in his last two years. That means taxpayers will pay this guard an extra $40,000 a year in pension benefits.

“And those are the employees that we’ve seen some of this spiking activity with and we want to make sure that the county pension fund is solvent,” Smith said.

Smith is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate spiking by eliminating overtime for pension calculations, taking away the incentive for padding.

“My bill would save the taxpayers about $30 million over the course of next 25 years in lowering some of these pension payments,” he said.

The bill was introduced two years ago and went nowhere, but Smith says the attitude in Harrisburg has changed and he expects it to pass in this session.

  • Steve

    I’m glad someone is trying to stop this. PA troopers get 75% of their maximum yearly income for retirement after 25 years. What they’ve been doing is saving sick days/pto and cashing them in in their final year. On top of that, the unwrittern rule is that retiring cops get first choice in overtime duty. End result is that a trooper with a $90K base (which for most is much higher) puts in 10+ hours of OT at time and a half/double time….plus the saved up sick/pto and retires with a final pay of $150K that year which gives them a 75% retirement of $112.5K/year at the age of 46… which is actually more than the earned in any normal year. This unethical way of bilking the system has been costing us tax payers MILLIONS. I doubt this guy will get his law passed, but at least it’s a start.

  • acitizen

    Retirement at age 46 with $112,500 a YEAR pension. On the taxpayer’s dime.

    While the average Joe struggles to feed his family.

    Those government slimebags.Con artists. Worthless parasites. Time to start voting an end to this nonsense.

    Enough is ENOUGH.

  • You should really get a life

    Easy, folks. If someone told you that your pension would be based on the average of your last 2 years of work, you would be a fool not to take extra work those 2 years in order to boost your retirement. Blame the system that’s in place, if you want. Don’t blame the workers.

    • Steve

      yes and no. I agree that ultimately it is the system that is to blame…from the legal perspective. But there is an ethical component as welll and that lies within the person exploiting the system. But to your point, I didn’t chastize police. I called out the problem with the system.

      • You should really get a life

        Ethically, I do see your point.

  • jealous g

    Cops and prison guards might be able to pull this off but I retired after working for the state of Pa. for 30 years. My monthly pension check is $1800. Thats after 30 years! Thats $21,600 a year. I’m hardly gettin rich.

  • Noname please

    Sounds like stealing to me. Pittsburgh could be a great city if the democrats running it could learn to budget money instead of just spending it. Nice to know we not only provide for our own pension, but foot the bill for these people too. Unions do nothing but destroy great cities. Look at all of the decaying inner cities across this country and you’ll find democrats in charge. Can’t wait to see Corbett make changes in this state

  • Hey Genius

    What do you guys think the city fireman do??? Its the exact same thing instead of always targeting the police let’s look at our grerat saviors that everyone loves. Kdka should look into the scheduled overtime for those about to retire. City fire is half of their total wages, police is half of base salary which is a huge difference. Nobody cares that a fireman beats admittedly beasts a guy unconscience and continues to kick him and leaves for dead. If that was a cop you all would be calling for him to be fired(rightfully so I mightv add). My vpoint is firemen can do whatever they including spiking their pensions and living off of us.

  • bruceUSA

    How about a comity to investigate back 20-30 yrs and recoup all the high ballers spiking. But no lets just write it off so they can keep doing their high roller life style while the rest of us struggle to pay for it all!!

  • Noname please

    I feel the same about firemen too. I don’t care who it is. Police, firemen, any union job we all have to work harder to support. The practice should be illegal. There are plenty of unemployed folks out there trying to provide for their families who shouldn’t have to foot the bill, let alone those who do still have a job and are working hard to support their own family

  • Thomas J Duttine

    And let’s not forget that all this overtime they work stops someone else from being hired…..

  • jk

    Most State Troopers make under $90K. That high of a pay is for the higher ranks. The sick time and vacation time that is saved up does not go towards the final year retirement calculations. All OT is at time and a half no double time. Get the facts striaght before commenting. If you want to see some bad retirement practices that cost the taxpayers money, look into all the politicians retirements.

  • Stop Complaining

    Those bashing public safety, I don’t see you running into burning building to help save someone on a cold December night or out patrolling a neighborhood at all hours and trying to keep you and your property safe or rescuing and treating a patient involved in a motor vehicle crash on an icy parkway. Most of you are home snug in your beds with your family and are with your family on holidays and don’t miss your child’s recital or play because you are working to keep everyone else safe. Lots of bashing of Public Safety personnel but who do you call when you need help and by god we better be there quick. You can’t have it both ways. Pay the guys who do the jobs and hope you never have to use the services we supply. It is like insurance, pay for it but hope you don’t see me at 3AM on the worst day of your life. In the 80s and 90’s there was no problem paying and having collective bargaining, today we are the bad guys who worked to bargain for the contracts we have. remember someone from the municipalities or state agreed to the bargaining, it wasn’t just given to anyone. if you don’t like paying for it don’t call 911 when your wife can’t breath, or your home in being burglarized or your house is on fire.

  • Vic DePasse

    Mr. Smith any estimate on cost of retirement benefits for legislators based on your automatic cost of living raises for one of the largest, highest paid, most corrupt Legislatures in the U.S.A.???

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