Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five (5) years of full participation.
Retirement: All members, like everyone else, are required to participate in Social Security and Medicare. But, like all federal employees and some employees in the private sector, they also have a pension plan. Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) but, in 1984, they were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.
Congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions, just as for all federal employees. Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62.
The amount of a member’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three (3) years of his/her salary. By law, the starting pension amount may not exceed 80% of the final salary.
Other Benefits: Congressional members are required by law to receive their health insurance through an Exchange created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They also receive life insurance through the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program. There are also various other benefits which are outlined in Congressional Salaries and Allowances, prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
© The Issue Wonk, 2019