Under law, the salary of Members of Congress are set for an automatic annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase unless Congress votes to not accept it.
Since 2009, the COLA increases have been denied, leaving the salaries of rank-and-file legislators serving in the US Congress at $174,000 annually. Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher salary than other Members.
Majority Party Leader - $193,400
Minority Party Leader - $193,400
Senate President Pro Tempore - $193,400
Speaker of the House - $223,500
Majority Leader - $193,400
Minority Leader - $193,400
Since 1946, Members of Congress with at least five years of service or federal employment can also be eligible for a generous pension that pays two to three times more than pensions offered to similarly-salaried workers in the private sector. The value of the benefit is determined by a formula based on the initial date of election to office, the length of service, and the average of the three years of highest salary.
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 was enacted to cut off pensions for former members of Congress who are convicted of corruption-related crimes. The Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 added to the list of crimes that would result in forfeiture of federal pension.
However, in 2017 NTUF disclosed a loophole in the law that has enabled two convicted former Members to continue collecting a taxpayer-funded pension while in jail. The reform laws only apply upon final conviction, leaving open the eligibility for pension payments while appeals are ongoing, which could last for several years.
Death Gratuity Payments
Lesser-known among congressional perks is the tradition of granting death gratuity payments to the heirs of members who pass away while serving in office. The amount is equal to the member's yearly congressional salary and the payments are provided regardless of the financial status of the member, many of whom are millionaires. From 2000 through 2021, the payments have cost taxpayers $5 million.
Additional benefits and perks are detailed here.