Lawmakers do pay 8 percent of their salaries into their pension system, although this only compensates for about 1/5 of the typical lifetime benefit. We cover the rest as taxpayers.
Member of Congress began to pay into Social Security in 1983, as part of a government-wide pension overhaul.
In addition, Members of Congress DO NOT draw the “same pension” as their pay in the last year of office as suggested in a rumor circulating on the Internet; only federal judges do that under the term “retirement pay.” Still, the formula is quite generous, and, with 20-25 years, a Member of Congress could retire with up to 80 percent of his or her salary replaced. Of course, the only cap on how fast their benefits rise is the rate of increase in CPI. For this reason, Congressional pensions can and frequently do exceed a Member’s final salary, but only after a few years in retirement, when COLAS begin to kick in.
In the final analysis, Congressional pension benefits are 2-3 times more generous than what a similarly-salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector. That ought to be enough to concern any taxpayer.
Additional information concerning pay and perks is available in NTUF Policy Paper 131.