It seems from inquires on this blog that the salary for life rumor is on the rise once again. Well, it’s still not true and never was. Here are the facts about Congressional pensions.
Congressional pensions, like those of other federal employees, are financed through a combination of employee and employer contributions. All Members pay Social Security payroll taxes equal to 6.2% of the Social Security taxable wage base ($118,500 in 2015). Members first covered by FERS prior to 2013 also pay 1.3% of full salary to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). Members of Congress first covered by FERS in 2013 contribute 3.1% of pay to the CSRDF. Members of Congress first covered by FERS after 2013 contribute 4.4% of pay to the CSRDF. In 2014, Members covered by CSRS Offset pay 1.8% of the first $118,500 of salary, and 8.0% of salary above this amount, into the CSRDF.
Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.
There were 601 retired Members of Congress receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of October 1, 2014. Of this number, 351 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $72,660. A total of 250 Members had retired with service under FERS and were receiving an average annual pension of $41,652 in 2014. Source: Congressional Research Service Report, June 2015