Empire Center reports 665 retired public workers authorized to get pension plus pay

The Empire Center reported Monday that 665 retired public workers in New York had authorization this year to "double dip" and keep collecting pensions while getting paid for jobs after returning to work in the public sector.

The fiscally conservative organization's report lists retirees under age 65 collecting full public pension benefits who have waivers from the restriction against earnings of $30,000 or more from a state or local agency.

According to the center, at least 7,361 post-retirement waivers have been issued since 1998. There were 665 active waivers on file with New York government agencies this year.

One issued by the Department of Civil Service allows a contractor to be paid up to $210,000 from Herkimer County for mental health services while collecting a pension of $99,204.

"The kind of double-dipping enabled by the Section 211 waiver system is just a symptom of a broader problem with New York's traditional public-sector pension system," said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. "The system encourages government workers to retire even if they want to continue working for employers who need or value their services."

The center obtained the information under the state's Freedom of Information Law. Hoefer pointed out that many of the waivers were for retired police officers rehired for jobs as investigators.

The report shows 276 waivers in New York City, five in other cities, 119 in counties, 60 in schools, 26 in the state's executive branch, one in the state Legislature, 22 in the state university system, none in the city university system, 18 in towns, 13 in villages, and a few others each among public authorities, special districts and the judiciary.