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What is the total compensation package for members of Congress?

Ken Little

Taxpayers have long been unhappy with salaries of elected representatives in Washington.

According to the U.S. government information section of www.about.com, the 2010 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

Members of Congress can refuse to pay raises, and some choose to do so.

House and Senate leaders receive a higher pay rate than rank-and-file members. In the Senate, majority and minority party leaders get $193,400 annually. The speaker of the House of Representatives receives $223,500 a year, and the House majority and minority leaders get $193,400.

A cost-of-living adjustment increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes not to accept it.

Some other facts:

Members of Congress do pay into Social Security. Before 1984, congressional members and other federal civil service employees did not pay Social Security taxes, and were not eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System.

Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress developed a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986.

Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees, according to the Congressional Budget Office. They become vested after five years of full participation.

Members of Congress elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System. Those elected before 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System. In 1984, all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.

Congressional retirement, as it is for all other federal employees, is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

Members of Congress aren’t 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. Congressional members have to serve at least five years to receive a pension.

The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary.

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 that total, 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.

Related links:

Benefits Paid to Members of Congress

Who are the members of Congress for this area?

How can I find out how my congressman voted on a bill in Congress?

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4 Responses to “ What is the total compensation package for members of Congress?”

  1. On October 21, 2010 at 10:59 am Susan wrote:

    I think the first paragraph of this answer should be deleted. It has no connection to the question and no data to back it up even if it were relevant.

    I am a long-time taxpayer and have absolutely no problem with Congressional salaries, and I’m sure there are many others who agree with me. You can find someone in almost any group with any particular opinion, but this question didn’t ask what ANY taxpayers think about it, it asked what the compensation is.

  2. On October 29, 2010 at 10:36 am OlderButWiser wrote:

    I believe the dollars shown are “bare-bones” only in that members who serve on committees and those who head committees are paid additional sums.

    However, in a piece aired on FOX news earlier this week, they reported that Congresspersons each have access to a whopping expense budget which can easily top 7 figures! Yes, that’s correct – FOX indicated that these individuals can tap from $1.3 million to $4.5 million (rank/seniority?) – they can virtually spend those $$’s on almost anything – as long as they keep detailed records of where the $$ went! Personal items, trips, car payments, entertainment, gifts – even bottled water!

    And, of course, Congresspersons fly 1st class wherever they go – with the exception of Nancy who gets the use of her own private jet plane to go to/from CA … nice going.

    Folks: These people are EMPLOYEES of ours! Federal employees who we pay! Wake up and smell the roses!!


  3. On July 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm Lee wrote:

    This, does not include office staff, free office space, executive cafeteria, free postage, car and driver, bodyguards, legal staff, etc. What does Congress cost really. Should be aterm limit.

  4. On April 6, 2012 at 12:53 am Tyler wrote:

    I don’t mind paying the cited salaries if congress focused on doing the appropriate work. Right now they spend the majority of their time fundraising instead of doing real work.

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