Detroit retirees want the city to issue them a one-time check using ARPA funds. The city says it can’t. » WDET 101.9FM




Laura Herberg

The retirees say a one-time check for $1,400 could help offset losses they suffered following Detroit’s bankruptcy negotiations.

A segment of Detroit retirees circulates a change.org petition asking the City of Detroit to give them a one-time check for $1,400.

“Retirees are struggling to meet their basic needs during the pandemic. Detroit’s elected officials could use some of the $826 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to save Detroit general fund retirees,” the petition reads.

“We have retirees who have worked for 40 years and they are barely getting by. —William M. Davis, president of the Association of Active and Retired Employees of Detroit


Listen: The president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association talks about the impact of bankruptcy on him and his fellow retirees.



The City of Detroit has two separate retirement systems, one for retired police and firefighters and another general system for everyone else. The petition specifically seeks funds for general retirees, as they were hardest hit by changes negotiated during Detroit’s bankruptcy, which ended in 2014. As part of the process, retirees have seen their pensions reduced, lost future cost-of-living adjustments and dropped health care coverage. Retired police officers and firefighters were not immune, however. They suffered a lesser reduction in their cost of living adjustments and also faced cuts related to health care.

According to the petition, in 2020 there were about 11,000 general system retirees and they had an average annual pension of $20,000.

“We have retirees who have worked for 40 years and they are just getting by,” says William M. Davis, president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association and former worker at the Detroit sewage treatment plant. . “You shouldn’t have to choose between paying your rent and paying for your medical care that helps you stay alive.”

The city of Detroit says it cannot grant the petitioners’ wish and send extra checks to retirees.

“The question of pensions for retirees was debated at length during the bankruptcy. The retirees, represented by separate legal counsel, agreed to a settlement that limited the cuts but prohibited the city from increasing or decreasing pension payments,” said Chuck Raimi, Detroit’s acting legal counsel. “The city would violate the court order if it were to provide an additional support payment.”

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  • Laura Herberg is a reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling stories about Detroit-area residents and the issues that affect us here.

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