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Social Security?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Well, I'm not an American, so I couldn't say how accurate this piece is, or venture to offer any opinions about it, but it came to me from a trusted American friend, and seems to want to be shared as widely as possible, so I'll put it here, and anyone who finds merit in it can pass it on as they see fit.

2004 Election Issue!!
This must be an issue in "2004". Please! Keep it going.


(This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.)

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.

Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.

You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.

For all practical purposes their plan works like this:

When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die.

Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments.

For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives.

This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries.

Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives.

Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH....

This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds;


From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, -every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer)- we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement.

Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.

That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it.

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

How many people can YOU send this to?

Keep this going clear up thru the 2004 election!! We need to be heard
post #2 of 6
Opps, you have been duped. The article above is false, it is an urban legend.


This piece has been circulating on the Internet since April 2000. So much of it is outdated, inaccurate, or misleading, it's difficult to know where to begin.
It is not true that Congressmen do not pay into the Social Security fund. They pay into the fund just as most everyone else does. (A few odd exceptions to the Social Security program still exist, both inside and outside of government.)

It was true prior to 1984 that Congressmen did not pay into the Social Security fund because they participated in a separate program for civil servants (the Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS), but that program was closed to government employees hired after 1983:

In 1983, Public Law 98-21 required Social Security coverage for federal civilian employees first hired after 1983 and closed the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to new federal employees and Members of Congress. All incumbent Members of Congress were required to be covered by Social Security, regardless of when they entered Congress. Members who had participated in CSRS before 1984 could elect to stay in that plan in addition to being covered by Social Security or elect coverage under an 'offset plan' that integrates CSRS and Social Security. Under the CSRS Offset Plan, an individual's contributions to CSRS and their pension benefits from that plan are reduced ('offset') by the amount of their contributions to, and benefits from, Social Security.

It is not true that Congressmen "continue to draw their same pay, until they die." The size of their pensions is determined by a number of factors (primarily length of service, but also factors such as when they joined Congress, their age at retirement, their salary, and the pension options they chose when they enrolled in the retirement system) and by law cannot exceed 80% of their salary at the time of their retirement.

The figures given as an example for Senator Bradley (or Senator Byrd, or Congressman White, depending upon which version one reads) — $7,900,000 over the course of his and his wife's lifetime, culminating in a top payout of $275,000 — are simply outrageous amounts with no basis in reality. There is no conceivable way Senator Bradley (or any other Congressman) could draw anywhere near that amount of money though the Congressional pension plan.

It is not true that Congressmen "paid nothing in on any kind of retirement," and that their pension money "comes right out of the General Fund." Whether members of Congress participate in the older Civil Service Retirement System or the newer Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), their pensions are funded through a combination of general tax provisions and contributions from the participants. Right now, members of Congress in the FERS plan must pay 1.3% of their salary to FERS and 6.2% in Social Security taxes.

As of 1998, the average annuity for retired members of Congress was $50,616 for those who retired under CSRS and $46,908 for those who retired under FERS. Not bad, but not the highway robbery this piece makes it out to be.


And the article from C-Span:

When are Members of Congress considered vested and eligible to receive a pension? And how much is that pension? Monticello, Arkansas - 9/28/00
Members who have participated in the congressional pension system are vested after 5 years of service. A full pension is available to Members 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. 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.

How much they receive depends on a complicated formula based on when they joined Congress, how old they are at the time of retirement, how many years of service they had at the time of retirement (including previous military or other federal service), their salary, and which pension option they chose when they enrolled. In any case, a Member's pension amount may not exceed 80% of his/her salary upon retirement.

Since January 1, 1984, all Members of Congress also participate in the Social Security system and are required to pay Social Security taxes.

Members who were elected after 1984 are automatically part of the FERS, or Federal Employees' Retirement System. Members elected before 1984 were in the CSRS, or Civil Service Retirement System. In 1984, those Members in CSRS had to choose to remain with CSRS, or switch to FERS. The Members elected before 1984 could further choose between full CSRS benefits, plus Social Security or CSRS benefits offset by Social Security.

A further variant in the amount of retirement benefits received is whether or not Members under either system choose to participate in the voluntary Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) open to all federal employees. Members under CSRS may contribute up to 5% of their salary and FERS Members 10% of their salary into this tax-deferred retirement investment fund. The differential favoring FERS Members is because pension benefits paid out under the old CSRS system are higher than those paid out under the current FERS system.

Both CSRS and FERS have differing formulas combining age and service factors which further affect how much a specific Member's pension will pay out. Therefore, the only solid averages concerning benefit payments are those that come from the just over 400 retired Members now actually drawing pensions.

The average annuity for retired Members, as of 1998, was either $50,616 [for those that retired under CSRS] or $46,908 [for Members that retired under FERS]. However, these averages don't take into account any additional funds these Members may have also accrued through investments in the Thrift Savings Plan described above.

Congressional pensions are funded the same way as those of other federal employees: through a combination of general tax provisions and contributions from the participants. Members of Congress in the FERS plan must pay 1.3% of their salary to FERS and 6.2% in Social Security taxes.

For more detailed information concerning pension benefits and age and service formulas under both CSRS and FERS, I recommend you obtain a copy of "Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress", a report by Patrick Purcell of the Congressional Research Service. [CRS Report RL30631, July 31, 2000]. CRS reports are free, but can only be obtained by requesting them through the office of a Member of Congress.

You can identify and contact your own 3 Members of Congress on C-SPAN's Write to Congress page.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for setting the record straight. I should have been more suspicious.
post #4 of 6
Even if it doesn't really exist, that "Golden Fleece Retirement Plan" does sound like something politicians might actually try to get away with. Here's an example:

The state I live in used to have a large surplus of tax money they had collected and hoarded, FINALLY, they gave us extra tax refunds. After giving back some tax money, my state suddenly had a large deficiet. It was decided that spending needed to be cut, and before they made any spending cuts, our wonderful politicians voted to give themselves a raise, and THEN they started cutting back state funding on programs that affect young children and the elderly living on a fixed income.
post #5 of 6
Rats! I was all set to tun for Congress.
post #6 of 6
In Australia, politicians get a VERY LARGE superannuation payout upon retirement. But just recently this was changed through legislation. And about time. It sure frees up money that can be spent on education, health care and social issues.
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