Nearly 80,000 California retirees are receiving $100,000 or more in pension pay, new data show

Update 12/23/19: The statewide total is now 80,540 after accounting for new data from the University of California, which saw a 24.5% year-over-year increase in their $100K club. 

The number of California retirees collecting a public pension of $100,000 or more hit an all-time high of 79,235 last year, up 85 percent since 2013.

That’s according to an analysis of 2018 pension payout data posted on Transparent California — the state’s largest public pay and pension database.

Those receiving pension payouts of at least $100,000 accounted for nearly 20 percent of the $51.7 billion total payments made last year, which is also an all-time high, according to the data.

“The only reason public pensions are an issue of public concern is because of the costs they impose on taxpayers,” explained Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner.

“The data show that one out of every five dollars paid out by California’s public pension funds last year went to someone who is drawing an annual pension of at least $100,000,” Fellner said.

Data from the US Census Bureau reveals a similar explosion in taxpayer costs, which hit an all-time high of $39.3 billion last year, more than double the amount spent in 2013.

“Guaranteed, lifetime annual pensions of over $100,000 are quite expensive, as the soaring cost to taxpayers in recent years makes quite clear,” Fellner concluded.

The number of retirees receiving annualized pensions of at least $100,000 at the Kern County pension fund increased 21 percent from 2017 to 2018, the biggest year-over-year increase of any pension fund statewide, as shown in the below table:

Pension Fund

Increase in $100K+ pensions from 2017 – 2018

Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association


Los Angeles Fire and Police Employees’ Pension


Los Angeles County Pension

Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association


San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System


Nearly half of all California cities face a “high risk” of fiscal distress due to rising pension costs, according to a recent analysis from the California State Auditor.

“Rising pension costs will force working class Californians to pay higher taxes, while receiving fewer public services,” Fellner explained.

To see a complete list of the more than 1.2 million pension checks issued last year, please click here. To view the data by individual pension fund, please click here.

For more information about the analysis, please contract Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

Categories: 2019, Press Releases

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