An hoax e-mail circulating since well before the November 2004 elections claims that congressmen sweet pension deal means they don’t have to pay into Social Security.
Here’s the hoax I collected back before the election (and have only just now gotten around to debunking — don’t worry though, this thing isn’t going away any time soon).
Date Captured: 1/22/04
GET A BILL STARTED TO PLACE ALL POLITICIANS ON SOC. SEC.†
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;
†”OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK”!
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
— Kitty Cox
This e-mail is rife with errors. According to a debunking on the United States Senate’s Web site, “All members of Congress pay Social Security taxes in the same amounts as they would if they were employed in the private sector at the same salary level.”
The debunking speculates that the reason for the confusion is that prior to 1983, federal employees (meaning everyone who works for the government, from janitors to legistlators) were covered by a pension plan that was independent of Social Security, and which didn’t mandate that they pay into that plan. Congress changed all that though, and since 1984 they’ve paid into Social Security, and had a pension plan that takes that program into account.
And that sweet pension deal? It’s definitely nice … but not quite so nice as the e-mail’s outraged author says. The Senate’s debunking spells out how many years you have to serve (and how old you need to be) in order to be eligible for a pension, but the bottom line is summed up nicely here:
“As of October 1, 2000, the average annual pension for members of Congress who have retired under CSRS is $52,464, and $46,932 for retirees under FERS-only or both FERS/CSRS.”
This page does not go into whether or not members of congress have to contribute to their pensions, but it does link to the “CRS Report for Congress” (PDF), which has this to say regarding the subject of contributions:
Congressional pensions, like those of other federal employees, are financed through a combination of employee and employer contributions. All members pay Social Security payroll taxes equal to 6.2% of the Social Security taxable wage base ($90,000 in 2005). Members covered by FERS also pay 1.3% of full salary to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Members covered by CSRS Offset
pay 1.8% of the first $90,000 of salary, and 8.0% of salary above this amount, into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.