For years, I've heard about the absurdity of the politicians'
retirement program: full - or near full - salary for life even if
they only served for one year.
1. Is this true?
No, it's a popular myth ("netlore"). They have to complete at least 5
years of service and their pension "may not exceed 80% of their
C-Span Congressional Pensions
When are Members of Congress considered vested and eligible to receive
a pension? And how much is that pension?
"Members who have participated in the congressional pension system are
vested after 5 years of service. A full pension is available to
Members 62 years of age with 5 years of service; 50 years or older
with 20 years of service; or 25 years of service at any age. A reduced
pension is available depending upon which of several different
age/service options is chosen. If Members leave Congress before
reaching retirement age, they may leave their contributions behind and
receive a deferred pension later.
How much they receive depends on a complicated formula based on when
they joined Congress, how old they are at the time of retirement, how
many years of service they had at the time of retirement (including
previous military or other federal service), their salary, and which
pension option they chose when they enrolled. In any case, a Member's
pension amount may not exceed 80% of his/her salary upon retirement."
"Since January 1, 1984, all Members of Congress also participate in
the Social Security system and are required to pay Social Security
"The average annuity for retired Members, as of 1998, was either
$50,616 [for those that retired under CSRS] or $46,908 [for Members
that retired under FERS]. However, these averages don't take into
account any additional funds these Members may have also accrued
through investments in the Thrift Savings Plan described above."
For fuller details, see the following report.
Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress
Additional Links of Interest
"Member of Congress began to pay into Social Security in 1983, as part
of a government-wide pension overhaul.
In addition, Members of Congress DO NOT draw the ?same pension? as
their pay in the last year of office as suggested in a rumor
circulating on the Internet; only federal judges do that under the
term ?retirement pay.? Still, the formula is quite generous, and, with
20-25 years, a Member of Congress could retire with up to 80 percent
of his or her salary replaced. Of course, the only cap on how fast
their benefits rise is the rate of increase in CPI. For this reason,
Congressional pensions can and frequently do exceed a Member?s final
salary, but only after a few years in retirement, when COLAS begin to
Claim: Members of Congress receive lavish pensions but are not
required to contribute to the Social Security fund.
Is it true that members of Congress don't pay into Social Security,
receiving lavish pensions at taxpayer expense instead?
Is it true that . . . Members of Congress do not pay into Social
Security and when they retire they receive a pension equal to their
congressional salary for the rest of their life?
Below are the bills that match "Congressional pensions".
Thank you for the interesting question! If you have any questions,
please post a clarification request and wait for me to respond before
closing/rating my answer.
Google Search Terms Used: congressional pensions
Clarification of Answer by
11 Dec 2005 10:57 PST
Here you go -
Constitution Party National Platform
"We seek to abolish Congressional pensions."
FOUNDING PRINCIPLES OF THE AMERICA FIRST PARTY
"End lavish Congressional pensions-put them on Social Security"
Citizens for a Constitutional Republic believe the keys to Government Reduction are
"Abolishing Congressional pensions."
George "Boots" Weber
US Representative, 2nd Congressional District, Missouri
Here are some ideas that I think America should pursue and I will
fight for in Congress:
"Abolish Congressional Pensions. Congressional pensions are
unnecessary and should be eliminated. Retired and current members of
the House and Senate may keep their pensions, but payments will be
frozen and there will be no cost of living increases. As of 2006,
Congressmen should not be allowed into the pension system. They will
go on Social Security and use personal savings, like everyone else for
Pat Buchanan on Social Security
"Abolish Congressional pensions; put them on Social Security. (Jun 1999)"
The Heritage Foundation
Slashing Congressional Spending, Part I: Congressional Pay, Pensions,
Perks, and Staff
by Dan Greenberg
May 16, 1995
"PENSIONS. Congress should reform its pension system, which encourages
careerism and is twice as generous as any private-sector plan. The
current system of escalating benefits creates open-ended liabilities
for taxpayers and should be changed to one funded largely or
exclusively by the contributions of Members themselves, similar to
private-sector 401(k) retirement accounts. New rules should apply to
all Members elected or reelected in 1996 or later, forcing Members
either to leave office at the end of the 104th Congress under the old
pension system or to continue into the 105th Congress under new
1995 The Heritage Foundation
Enid Greene Waldholtz (UT-2)
Her top priority is reform of congressional pensions. Members of
Congress now receive retirement benefits that are roughly double that
of individuals in the private sector. Waldholtz has co-sponsored a
bill to eliminate the existing plan and replace it with a 401(k)
Talk about putting your money where your mouth is: Waldholtz has
declined to accept her own congressional pension, and she has refused
government-paid health coverage. She and her husband will purchase
their own coverage until Congress acts on meaningful health-care
reform, including portability of insurance benefits, for all
Americans. She is also trying to figure out how to reduce her annual
salary or funnel the difference between her current pay and her
proposed salary toward charity or reducing the debt. She specifically
intends to prevent the money from returning to the House Speaker's
slush fund, the current repository of all unspent funds from