Looking At City of Newton Pensions

2007 MAY - In the March edition of the Voice, we reported on an
actuarial valuation of the Plymouth County Retirement System, showing for the
first time the average pensions of a retirement system by gender. The valuation
was done by Buck Consultants.

This month we are looking at the average pensions of the
City of Newton – the Garden City. Because the latest (January 1, 2006)
actuarial valuation of the Newton Retirement System was also done by Buck on a
gender basis, Newton will be reported in that style.

The average pension for a Newton male retiree is $26,303 and
for a female is $11,710. An immediate reaction to this difference might again
be one of discrimination. But not so. Length of service is a major factor in
determining pensions. Many women have worked for shorter periods of time as
clerks or secretaries. For the most part, police, fire and public works
employees are males (it’s slowly changing) and they stay on the job until they
reach their 80% pension. Survivors, mostly female, are included in the chart.
Many survivors are only receiving an extremely small pension. Pending
legislation is attempting to help these women.

Salaries, another major factor in determining pensions, are
relatively high in the public safety field. As more and more women enter this
field, there will be a gradual narrowing of the gender-based  average pension. But as long as women have
the burden (or privilege) of bearing children and in many cases being
stay-at-home moms for lengthy periods of time, there will always be a gender
difference in pensions.

Also included in the valuation is a breakdown of disability
pensions. Accidental disabilities, which pay 72% of salary plus an annuity, the
total of the two cannot exceed 75%. Ordinary disabilities are much less,
depending on the years of service.