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Congressional Pensions Richer Than Most State and Local Employees, Other Federal Workers

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The Washington Post reports:

"For all the theater, members of Congress, regardless of party, aren’t saying much about their own retirement plans, which are much more generous than those held by most Americans.

"Lawmakers also pay less into their pensions, and get a better match from taxpayers, than most state employees do across the nation.

“'They still reserve to themselves a more generous formula than rank-and-file members of the federal government,' said Peter Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, which long has charged that U.S. lawmakers’ retirement benefits are too generous."

Over on the NTU website, Sepp lays out all the gory details:

"Members of Congress first elected before 1984 generally participate in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), while those first elected in 1984 and thereafter generally participate in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Members do contribute a percentage of their salaries (varies with plan options selected) toward Congressional retirement benefits. Pensions are calculated using a formula based on years of Congressional and other federal service, the average of the three highest years’ salaries upon leaving office, and an “accrual rate.” Other adjustments are made for age at retirement and marital status.

"Congressional pensions are typically 2-3 times more generous than those offered to similarly-salaried workers in the private sector, and are even more generous than pensions for most federal workers.

"For example, Members of Congress under CSRS have a generous accrual rate of 2.5 percent for all years served, while most workers in the Executive Branch get a sliding rate of between 1.5 and 2.0 percent. For FERS, Members get a 1.7 percent initial rate, versus 1.1 percent or 1.0 percent for most rank-and-file federal employees. Also, lawmakers with longer careers in Congress can generally collect pension benefits at a far earlier age than their counterparts with similar service elsewhere in the government. Plus, the Congressional benefit is protected with Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), a feature that only about 1 in 10 private plans offer.

"According to the Congressional Research Service, a lawmaker with 20 years of service under FERS could expect to receive a pension equivalent to 34.0 percent of his or her highest three years’ salary average. For other federal employees in the Executive Branch, the “replacement rate” would be just 20.0 percent. For CSRS participants, the gap between a Member of Congress and an Executive Branch employee is 50.0 percent versus 36.5 percent."

Grab a handful of blood pressure medication and read the rest HERE and HERE.
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