Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

As the election season gets into full swing after the summer it would appear to be in order to once again illustrate for our readers that irrespective of which party occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. the average working Joe is not going to get a fair shake.

Both political parties along with their “czars” would have the average citizen delay their retirement until possibly 67-70 years of age in order that we might protect social security. The only things we need to protect social security from are the clowns in Washington who espouse a philosophy of “don’t do what I do…do what I say.”

Some who read this blog probably were unaware that prior to 1984 neither federal civil service workers nor our esteemed Members of Congress paid taxes to social security. Subsequently, under a somewhat convoluted conversion plan (gee, do you think the plan was convoluted by accident) Members of Congress are covered by one of four different retirement plans:

  • Full coverage under both Civil Service Retirement System 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;
  • Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) plus Social Security; or
  • Social Security alone.

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.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CSR), “because of the uncertain tenure of congressional service… FERS was designed to provide a larger benefit for each year of service to Members of Congress and congressional staff than to most other federal employees. Members of Congress also become eligible for retirement annuities under CSRS and FERS at an earlier age and with fewer years of service than most other federal employees.”

Nice! Can you image that, “…because of the uncertain tenure of congressional service…” have our elected representatives seen what is happening to the average American and their uncertain futures given the gross mismanagement and lack of fiscal disciple displayed by our elected representatives.

According to the CRS the Age and Length of Service Requirements for each of the four possible retirement plans for Congress is as follows:

Retirement Under CSRS. Four retirement scenarios are possible for Members covered by CSRS or the CSRS Offset Plan:

  1. Retirement with an immediate, full pension is available to Members age 60 or older with 10 years of service in Congress, or age 62 with five years of civilian federal service, including service in Congress.
  2. Retirement with an immediate, reduced pension is available to Members aged 55 to 59 with at least 30 years of service. It is also allowed if the Member separates for a reason other than resignation or expulsion after having completed 25 years of service, or after reaching age 50 and with 20 years of service, or after having served in nine Congresses.
  3. Retirement with a deferred, full pension is available if the Member leaves Congress before reaching the minimum age required to receive an immediate, unreduced pension and delays receipt until reaching the age at which full benefits are paid. A full pension can be taken at age 62 if the Member had five through nine years of federal service, or at age 60 if the Member had at least 10 years of service in Congress. At the time of separation, the Member must leave all contributions in the plan in order to be eligible for the deferred pension.
  4. Retirement with a deferred, reduced pension is available to a Member at age 50 if he or she retired before that age and had at least 20 years of federal service, including at least 10 years as a Member of Congress

Retirement Under FERS. There are four possible retirement scenarios for Members who are covered by FERS:

  1. Retirement with an immediate, full pension is available to Members at age 62 or older with at least five years of federal service; at age 50 or older with at least 20 years of service; and at any age to Members with at least 25 years of service.
  2. Retirement with an immediate, reduced pension is available at age 55 to Members born before 1948 with at least 10 years of service. The minimum age will increase to 56 for Members born from 1953 through 1964 and to 57 for those born in 1970 or later.
  3. Retirement with a deferred, full pension is available at age 62 to former Members of Congress with at least five years of federal service.
  4. Retirement with a deferred, reduced pension is available at the minimum retirement age of 55 to 57 (depending on year of birth) to a former Member who has completed at least 10 years of federal service. The pension annuity will be permanently reduced if it begins before age 62.

Well, hopefully you get the point……our elected representatives have made sure to enrich themselves while at the same time calling on the American people to sacrifice and extend, once again, their retirement age. Do you believe the Members of Congress would extend their retirement age for the sake of the national good?

So during the silly season of elections possibly we could have a moderator at one of the debates ask the following question of the respective candidates, “Will you advocate for the retirement age of Member of Congress to conform to the retirement age of the people who pay your salary?”  But why stop there, possibly they could be asked and their response placed on the record if they would support a Constitutional amendment that would forever prohibit Congress from passing any legislation from which the Members of Congress would be exempt. One can hope!

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