Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, will turn 80 later this month and has 46 years of public service, excluding most of his time in the Army.
So come January, after getting re-elected to an 18th term on Election Day, Farley will begin to collect his salary and pension. His salary is $104,500 and his pension will be about $52,000, Farley said today. He’s deferring some pension payments for his wife.
Farley, who come January would be the longest-serving member in the Senate, said he decided to take his pension because he’s maxed out in the system and so the pension could be transferred to his wife were something to happen to him. He was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and served in local government since 1970.
“I have to do it to protect my wife. All she would get is the death benefit,” if he didn’t take his pension, Farley said.
As of earlier this year, 15 state lawmakers were collect a salary and a pension for serving in the same job. Some are retiring at year’s end.
The practice has been criticized because lawmakers officially retire at the end of their term, then start their new term in January — allowing them to double dip. State law allows elected officials who were in office before 1995 to collect their pensions at age 65, even if they stay in the same job. Lawmakers receive a base salary of $79,500, but many receive stipends for committee assignments.
Farley said the situation for him and older members are different. If they don’t take the pension, their spouses wouldn’t be able to collect it if they died in office.
“I have to do it to protect my family. It depends on the situation,” Farley said. “There’s some talk that they want to be able to protect it so that if you die in office, at least you don’t lose your pension for your wife. I think that’s a problem.”