Justice Helen Hoens' failed reappointment to the New Jersey Supreme Court will cost her $66,466 in pension benefits.
When Hoens, 59, leaves the bench on Oct. 26, she will have 19 years and seven months as a judge under her belt.
State judges who retire at age 60 or older with 20 years on the bench collect 75 percent of their final salary. For Hoens, who earns $185,482 a year, that would have worked out to $139,112 had she been reappointed.
Instead, she will receive 48 percent less — or $72,646 — according to Division of Pensions and Benefits spokesman Bill Quinn.
Hoens narrowly missed the full pension level: she hits the 20-year mark in March and will turn 60 on July 31.
She was first appointed a judge in 1994, sitting in Somerset County Superior Court, was reappointed in 2001 and was elevated to the Appellate Division the next year.
Hoens could have served in that capacity until reaching age 70. But she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006, which would require reappointment after her initial seven-year term.
Her reappointment fell victim to the deadlock between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democratic-controlled Senate over the court's composition.
Christie announced on Aug. 12 that he would not reappoint Hoens even though she deserved it. He said he was protecting her from "political vengeance" in light of Senate Judiciary Committee member Raymond Lesniak's vow to oppose her as "payback" for Christie's refusal in 2010 to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak did not respond to queries Wednesday about whether the governor knew of the pension consequences when he decided not to reappoint Hoens and whether he would enable her to reach a full pension by naming her to a lower court judgeship.
Sen. Christopher Bateman, R-Somerset, Hoens' home county senator who also sits on the judiciary committee, says he has not yet discussed that possibility with anyone but "would be interested in helping her fulfill that if she would be willing to do it."
Based on discussions with Democratic colleagues, he believes Hoens would have been confirmed and calls it "unfortunate that politics played into what happened to her."
Hoens did "an outstanding job as a justice" and "with her talent, she'll probably have good, lucrative offers," he adds.
Hoens' anticipated pension will be the lowest currently payable to a retired justice other than James Zazzali Jr., who retired at age 70 in 2007, after seven years as a justice, including nine months as chief justice.
His pension was $65,555 in 2012, according to figures from the Division of Pensions and Benefits.
Though Zazzali left at full retirement age, he was not eligible to collect 75 percent of his $164,250 salary apparently because he did not have the requisite 10 years of judicial service and was relegated to some other formula.
Zazzali, now with two Newark firms, Gibbons and Zazzali Fagella Nowak Kleinbaum & Friedman, was out of his office and could not be reached for comment.
Others pulling in more include Wallace, who departed in June 2010 at age 64, with 26 years as a judge, including trial and appellate levels, and went to Brown & Connery in Woodbury. His pension was $132,155 last year.
Deborah Poritz, chief justice from 1996 to 2006, after two years as attorney general, got $109,101 last year. Now 76, she is with Drinker Biddle in Princeton.
James Coleman Jr., whose three decades on state courts included nine as an associate justice and ended in 2003, at age 70, received $132,007. He is with Porzio Bromberg & Newman in Morristown.
Some lower court retirees are doing better than some justices.
Eugene Serpentelli, who retired as Ocean County's assignment judge in 2007, was paid $119,794 in 2012.
Not receiving a pension yet is Peter Verniero, whose time as a justice, from 1999 to 2004, followed stints as Gov. Chrisine Todd Whitman's chief of staff, chief counsel and attorney general.
Verniero, now with Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark, is entitled, like Hoens, to what is termed a "deferred pension" — available at age 60 to those who retire younger and have five years as a judge and at least five more years of other public service. At 54, he has six more years before the pension kicks in.
One former Supreme Court member who will not receive a pension is Roberto Rivera-Soto, now 59, who served from 2004 to 2011 and is now with Ballard Spahr in Cherry Hill. Like Verniero, he left of his own accord but had no public service beyond his seven years as a justice.
Verniero and Rivera-Soto decline to comment on Hoens' situation.
No one answered the telephone Wednesday at Hoens' chambers in Somerville.
Making her situation worse is the suspension of cost-of-living adjustments in the 2011 pension reform bill. Over time, COLAs can substantially boost pensions. They accounted for nearly $22,000 of the $108,050 paid to 1994 retiree Robert Clifford for 2012.
Marie Garibaldi, who had 18 years as a justice when she retired in 2000 at age 65, was paid $126,514 last year, $17,103 attributable to COLAs.
Quinn says COLAs can only be restored when a pension fund's assets reach a certain percentage of accrued liabilities. That figure is 77 percent this year and will rise to 80 percent in several years, the point at which the committee responsible for the fund could choose to reinstate them.
The Judicial Retirement System was 46 percent funded when last measured in July 1, 2012, the lowest rate of any New Jersey pension fund.