Congressional Pensions Reviewed

Jul 4th, 2015 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Debunking False Information

That annoying Facebook post about congressional pensions just keeps traveling around. It needs to be removed from circulation because it is almost 100% false. It’s the one that suggests retired members of Congress and the President get exorbitant pension packages, and quotes flat amounts provided annually by taxpayers.

Since we here at Senior Citizen Journal believe facts are generally very helpful in forming opinion, we provide factual information about what congressional pensions actually are.

Congressional pensions are a little complicated, so be sure to read all the information provided.  Much of this information is provided by Wikipedia, and is referenced for accuracy.

  1. “A full pension is available to Members of Congress 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The current pension program began in January 1987. It is called FERS, the  Federal Employees Retirement System. It covers members and other federal employees whose federal employment began in 1984 or later. This replaces the older Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) for most members of congress and federal employees.” (Wikipedia–enumeration added for clarity)

How are Benefits Determined?

The retirement benefit amount for members of Congress is determined by a formula; there is no pre-determined amount as the false Facebook post suggests.

The Congressional pension benefit amount is determined by a combination of years served and average pay for the three years they received the highest salary. Wikipedia gives this example:

“For example, a member elected before 1984 and thus qualifying under the CSRS plan, who worked for 22 years and who had a top three-year average salary of $154,267 would be eligible for a pension payment of $84,847 per year.[3] A member elected after 1984 would have been enrolled under the FERS plan, and their pension payment under similar conditions ($154,267 top three-year average salary, but with only 20 years of service, rather than the 22 in the CSRS example) would be $52,451.[3]

This information clearly debunks the information offered in the Facebook post. SCJ will offer factual information about Presidential pensions next. Stay tuned!

Dr. Sharon Shaw Elrod

 



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