Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Internet Nonsense: Congressional Pensions For Life

The internet is great, but it is also dangerous. Many people gather information from shared emails and various internet sources, then take this information for the gospel truth. After they read the information, they share it with their family and friends, who in turn tell other friends. All is well if the information is correct, but many times information we receive is wrong, inaccurate and sometimes crafted to control our attitudes and beliefs.

A good example of bad information gone viral is a current email which provides informatiion about retirement benefits for members of the U. S. House of Representatives and the President.

Here is the text of that 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
Most of this information is inaccurate and none of the members of Congress receive their salary for life.

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.

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
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.

Additional information can be found at
As you can see, everything we read is not accurate. Take the time to further research information before passing it on as gospel and , when you receive information, check it out before you pass it on.

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