(Alexandria, VA) – An estimate released by National Taxpayers Union (NTU) today finds that California Senator Barbara Boxer could be eligible for a $125,000-per-year maximum Congressional pension should she follow through on her recent announcement and retire at the end of her current term in 2016.
At that time, Sen. Boxer would have served a total of 34 years in Congress, including 24 years in the Senate, which is sufficient service (at least 32 years) to qualify for a max pension under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). She would be eligible to collect immediately upon retiring.
“Senator Boxer will retire under a system that was discontinued in in the ‘80s, yet taxpayers in 2017 will pick up most of the tab,” said NTU President Pete Sepp. “While the pension system for lawmakers has been reformed in a positive direction in recent years, this is a good reminder that there’s still work to do to better protect taxpayers.”
NTU’s estimate is based on the assumptions that a Member of Congress participates in the retirement system at the earliest opportunity; and that each lawmaker who is married takes the spousal annuity option, which reduces the Member of Congress’ pension so that their surviving spouse can collect a partial benefit.
Additionally, Congressional pensions are typically 2-3 times more generous than those offered to similarly salaried workers in the private sector, and for longer-serving lawmakers are even more generous than pensions for most federal workers. Plus, the Congressional benefit is protected from inflation with Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), a feature that fewer than 1 in 10 private plans offer. Lawmakers pay part of their salaries toward the Congressional retirement benefit, but this covers just a small portion of an average payout (they also pay into and collect Social Security).