Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Congress Retirements

Subject: 86GPh: Congressional


Political eFriends:

For some time (months/years) I've been getting emails about the congressional policy of retiring with full benefits after serving only one term. In the current American Legion magazine there is an article that says:

"In reality, there is no such thing as retiring with an immediate, full-salary pension after only one term in office. There is no special plan for senators and representatives. Congressional retirement plans are virtually identical to the retirement plans for all other federal employees.

"Anyone in Congress must work for at least five years to be eligible for a pension, which they can't draw until they are 62. If they have worked for 10 or more years, they can draw a reduced pension as early as 55.

"I invite readers to educate themselves on this subject by reading Congressional Research Service Report RL30631, found at "


[I have pasted the text on the first page of the above website. AlanB]

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

Released: January 03, 2011

Order Code: RL30631


Prior to 1984, neither federal civil service employees nor members of Congress paid taxes to Social Security, nor were they eligible for Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act (P.L. 98-21) required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress directed the development of a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-335). Members of Congress first elected in 1984 or later are covered automatically under the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), unless they decline this coverage. Those who already were in Congress when Social Security coverage went into effect could either remain in CSRS or change their coverage to FERS. Members are now covered under one of four different retirement arrangements: . CSRS and Social Security; . The "CSRS Offset" plan, which includes both CSRS and Social Security, but with CSRS contributions and benefits reduced by Social Security contributions and benefits; . FERS and Social Security; or . Social Security alone. 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 ($106,800 in 2011). Members enrolled in FERS also pay 1.3% of full salary to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. In 2011, members covered by CSRS Offset pay 1.8% of the first $106,800 of salary, and 8.0% of salary above this amount, into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Under both CSRS and FERS, members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 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. As of October 1, 2009, 455 retired members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service. Of this number, 275 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $69,012. A total of 180 members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $40,140 in 2009.


Friends - I thought this was interesting and informative enough to share with you all. AlanB

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