I’ve received many comments about the post listing the largest retirement payouts for retired city employees and elected officials.

One reader asked why elected officials who are younger than 55 — such as ex-City Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet — are drawing retirement payouts.

Rebecca Wilson, the chief of staff for the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, explained to me today that elected officials’ retirement plan, which differs from those for city employees, allows elected officials to draw their payments early. However, the payments are decreased by 2 percent for each year the person is under age 55.

So for an elected official receiving his pension at age 40, his payout would be 30 percent less than if he were to start drawing at age 55.

Elected officials who formerly worked for the city also earned pension benefits while they were city employees. That’s why former City Attorney Casey Gwinn — who worked in the office before being elected — received retirement payments totaling $94,988 last year, the most of any elected official.

For more, read Andrew Donohue‘s thoughts on the lists or my original post. Also, check out Donohue’s investigation into former Councilman Jim Madaffer to understand some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to major bumps in elected officials’ pensions.

RANI GUPTA

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