Government

Members of Congress receive their salary for life…More Internet nonsense

This post will be updated January 25, 2016

Here is the text of an e-mail circulating around the internet:

Subject: Wages

Salary of retired US Presidents …………..$180,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of House/Senate ………………………$174,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of Speaker of the House …………..$223,500 FOR LIFE

Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders …… $193,400 FOR LIFE

Average Salary of Soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN $38,000

Average income for SOCIAL SECURITY seniors $12,000

None of the salaries for members of Congress are for life.  However, they may earn a pension.

And they say I’m lower on the road to evolution

In fact, the retirement benefits received by former Presidents include a pension, Secret Service protection (for ten years), and reimbursements for staff, travel, mail, and office expenses. The Presidential pension is not a fixed amount, rather it matches the current salary of Cabinet members (or Executive Level I personnel), which is $191,300/year as of March, 2008.  That figure is 47.8% of the President’s salary, not overly generous by any means. You may not like or agree with any given President, but you have to agree that it is not an easy job and one that takes its toll on all who hold it.

The average workers Social Security benefit as of September 2011 is $14,196 (plus 50% more if married) and of course does not include other sources of income (or other assets) beyond Social Security.

Members of Congress do participate in the federal pension system, contribute into the system and are vested in the benefit after five years of service. Therefore, a member of the House of Representatives would have to be re-elected twice to become vested in a pension.  By law the pension cannot exceed 80% of pay (which would require a substantial period of congressional service).  Here are some facts about actual Congressional pensions from about.com

According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

Also see this latest blog post: http://quinnscommentary.com/2012/11/14/salaries-of-members-of-congress-would-you-take-the-job-members-of-congress-do-not-receive-pay-for-life-and-are-not-overpaid/

30 replies »

  1. What nobody has mentioned – these people are all millionaires. Those salaries and pensions are just a drop in the bucket to them, but could do so much more for those with nothing.

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    • Many, but not all members of Congress are wealthy. However, that is not the problem. Given the expense associated with being in Congress, like living in Washington, maintaining two homes, commuting and more you need to be wealthy to afford it. How can the average person ever represent us? They couldn’t afford it and that’s a problem. Do we want only millionaires as our representatives?

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      • how about, they don maintain 2 homes. Let’s set up an apartment building or 3 for them to live in while congress is is session, then they cam go the hell home where they belong!

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  2. “While there are several wealthy members of Congress, that is not the norm. The public perception that Members are rich and receive numerous lifetime perks is not correct. Think about giving up your job and either moving your family or more likely leaving your family and renting in Washington and not knowing if you will have the job two years later. There are some who have made a career of the process and will leverage that career into big dollars, but that voters who allow that to happen carry the blame. Their pension does have a COLA.

    Dick

    Richard D Quinn Editor ”

    Our military deal with this same issue and I don’t see them having the same perks.

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      • The email that was circulating did not mention career military; it mentioned average salary of soldier deployed to Afghanistan. My son and most of his battalion barely made minimum wage. My son-in-law in is career military and we would love to hear about the perks he is suppose to receive! Please do your research before making such a statement.

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      • The e-mail that was circulating at least the one I saw was exactly what you see in the post including statement about the pay in Afghanistan. The info was cut and pasted without editing.

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      • Career military are treated quite well when compared with most workers including a pension and health benefits and the ability to “retire” at a young age. Most Americans have none of that. Certainly a career in the military is quite different than other jobs, at least in the time of hostilities, nevertheless it is a career choice.

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      • tomatoe tomateo. the mailing was sent not as a legal document, but as an ‘you get the idea’ in 1/2 a minute piece. and i do not believe your facts! Plus thats that including all they steel while in office and all the stocks they invest in via ‘insider trading’.

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      • Dictionary.com defines pension as an allowance, annuity, or subsidy. The difference between salary and pension is that a person works for a salary and does nothing for a pension. So, in my estimation, that makes it worse.

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      • Your assessment is incorrect. By your analysis a person did nothing for there Social Security either.

        Everyone who has a pension did something for it while they were working. A pension is a form of deferred compensation. It is part of his or her pay and the employers cost for each worker on the payroll. A member of Congress is no different. As long as we allow politicians to make a career of being in Congress they deserve a pension as much as any other worker. Unless you want all of Congress to be made up only of independently wealthy individuals rather than average Americans, we need to pay a decent salary and benefits. Without this how many people could give up their job or business, keep a home in expensive Washington and maintain their permanent residence as well, not knowing if they are going to lose their job in two or six years? If we don’t think an individual is doing his job we should fire them otherwise they deserve fair total compensation.

        Dick

        Richard D Quinn Editor

        Visit these blogs:

        Quinnscommentary.com

        Health Insurance Illuminated http://blog.horizonblue.com/

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  3. Do members of Congress contribute to Medicare and depend on that when they are eligible, or do they have some kind of Congressional health benefit plan that relieves them from being dependent on Medicare?

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    • Members pay the same Medicare tax as everyone else and enroll under the same rules as we all do with the Federal Employee Plan as supplemental.

      Richard D Quinn Editor

      Visit these blogs:

      Quinnscommentary.com

      Health Insurance Illuminated http://blog.horizonblue.com/

      Like

    • This is an answer to Quinn. You said people did not do anything to earn social security. Wrong. They paid into social security from wages earned each pay period and their employer contributed the same. The employer considered this a perk to the employee and counted it as part of his/her salary. The creeps in Congress borrowed from it without paying it back and that is why it’s almost bankrupt.
      Also, only the rich congressmen support two homes. Why should they buy a second home in DC when they leave DC Thursday nights and go back Monday morning and they can use their campaign funds to travel. They get many days and even weeks off. If it were a bad deal, believe me, they wouldn’t be doing it. Just follow the reports of members each year which lists their wealth. They start out with the value of their house and serve a couple of terms and they are millionaires. Sure some could earn more in the private sector if they were a hotshot lawyer, but they love the power. You make it sound like they are true servants. That’s a crock! They look at themselves as royalty.

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      • You have your facts wrong. I never said people did not do anything to earn SS. Of course, they paid taxes, but those taxes do not cover the benefits received. Employers do not consider SS taxes as part of salary. If it were not for the interest being paid to SS trust on the bonds issued to it by the Treasury, you wouldn’t be receiving your full benefit today. Where would you have invested the excess SS funds; in the stock market? It’s no different than you buying a savings bond. It has nothing to do with the trust funds being depleted. So, you don’t think a member of Congress has a right to be with their family? You are right about the power, but who gives it to them, the people who elected them and then reelect them again and again. The answer is quite simple; don’t vote for any incumbent.

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      • When I read what you sent below I was confused as to why I received this email, so I went to your blogsite.  The email you sent below had absolutely nothing to do with my comment. My comment was a simple question, “Please elaborate on all the ‘perks’ the military receive.”   My request made because you stated, “Our military deal with this same issue and I don’t see them having the same perks.” Since you appear to be an expert I was interested.  If you wish to respond to my email address, please respond with an answer that is relevant.  If not, please do not email me. Thank you,D

        From: quinnscommentary To: freshbreeze50@yahoo.com Sent: Friday, October 9, 2015 1:15 PM Subject: [New comment] Members of Congress receive their salary for life…More Internet nonsense #yiv6047055727 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6047055727 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6047055727 a.yiv6047055727primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6047055727 a.yiv6047055727primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6047055727 a.yiv6047055727primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6047055727 a.yiv6047055727primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6047055727 WordPress.com |

        rdquinn commented: “You have your facts wrong. I never said people did not do anything to earn SS. Of course, they paid taxes, but those taxes do not cover the benefits received. Employers do not consider SS taxes as part of salary. If it were not for the interest being paid” | |

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    • The $35G/year amount isn’t exactly “sizeable;” I would describe it as an income of “modest means.” If that were the only retirement income a person had, it would be a good idea to pay off the mortgage before retiring and make sure you had married well. But, then again, Congresspersons probably have multiple streams of retirement income, not just the FERS annuity. They won’t end up eating cat food even if inflation does hit.

      Which prompts me to ask: does FERS have an annual automatic COLA for federal retirement annuities to keep up with inflation?

      Like

      • While there are several wealthy members of Congress, that is not the norm. The public perception that Members are rich and receive numerous lifetime perks is not correct. Think about giving up your job and either moving your family or more likely leaving your family and renting in Washington and not knowing if you will have the job two years later. There are some who have made a career of the process and will leverage that career into big dollars, but that voters who allow that to happen carry the blame.

        Their pension does have a COLA.

        Dick

        Richard D Quinn Editor

        Like

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