Detroit's municipal pension fund made undisclosed payments for decades to retirees, active workers and others above and beyond normal benefits, costing the struggling city billions of dollars, according to an outside actuary hired to examine the payments.
The payments included bonuses to retirees, supplements to workers not yet retired and cash to the families of workers who died too young to get a pension, according to a report by the outside actuary and other sources.
How much each person received is not known because payments were not disclosed in the annual reports of the fund.
Detroit has nearly 12,000 retired general workers, who last year received pensions of $19,213 a year on average — hardly enough to drive a great American city into bankruptcy. But the total excess payments in some years ran to more than $100 million, a crushing expense for a city in steep decline. In some years, the outside actuary found, Detroit poured more than twice the amount into the pension fund that it would have had to contribute had it only paid the specified pension benefits.