Perhaps the revelation last week that relatives of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi had their loans paid off by an indicted associate of the longtime North End pol was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or perhaps it was the accumulation of the veritable “death by 1,000 paper cuts” that prompted DiMasi to finally decide to step down over the weekend from the Speaker’s chair as well as his House seat. Or maybe he was just waiting for his chosen successor to garner the needed majority to take over what is surely a jinxed office for the leader of the House — whoever that may be — in Room 356.  

Whatever the reason, it won’t hurt his retirement wallet that DiMasi, 63, waited for the calendar to turn a page before announcing that he was resigning and will file for his pension. According to state pension officials, DiMasi’s decision to wait until after the New Year earned him an extra $2,000 or so a year, depending upon which retirement option he chooses. That’ll buy an extra cannoli and cappucino or two on Hanover Street.

DiMasi, who was an assistant prosecutor in the Suffolk District Attorney’s office in the mid ’70s before launching his 30-year career on Beacon Hill that culminated in his election as speaker in 2004, had 32 years and three months of creditable service as of December 31, 2008. But by remaining in office until the next day, the speaker earned a full year more of creditable service.

With his speaker’s pay at $93,000 and the pension based on the average of the top three years of earnings, DiMasi won’t be in the William Bulger range, but he’ll have a nice cushion to fall back on.

If he takes “Option A,” DiMasi will receive monthly payments totaling $71,000 a year until he dies. Had he left office last month when the wolves were scratching at the door, it would have been $68,800 annually. If he chooses “Option C,” which gives him a lower annual payout but provides an annuity payment to his beneficiary, DiMasi will get about $59,000 a year. Had he resigned in December, his annual take would have been $57,000.

We don’t pretend to know DiMasi’s motives but whatever they were, it’s always nice to have a little extra padding to cushion the fall.