How Will Your Retirement Compare With a Congressman’s?

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Members of Congress get a hefty Social Security benefit, a pension, subsidized retiree health benefits, and a 401(k)-like plan. Do you think they deserve it?

Congress is about to take a month off without sending any of 12 annual spending bills to President Obama, leaving itself just over a week when it resumes to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown.

That’s according to The New York Times, which calls this Congress “the underachieving 113th.”

What have these hard workers got to look forward to in retirement? Bankrate explored congressional benefits and compared them with the average American’s, and found out that:

  • Less than 20 percent of the private sector qualifies for a pension, down from more than 80 percent in the mid-1980s. Members of Congress? They have federal pension programs that pay $40,000 and up per year, on average.
  • Only a quarter of large firms and 4 percent of small firms offer retiree health benefits, but those in Congress can get coverage through a federal program that picks up about 75 percent of the premium.
  • Congress also gets the Thrift Savings Plan, “which is like a 401(k) plan, except on steroids.” The government matches contributions of up to 5 percent, on top of a 1 percent giveaway even if members don’t contribute to the plan. The average private sector match for those who get one is 4.1 percent.
  • Government estimates suggest those who earn a middle-class salary and retire at 65 will start with a Social Security benefit of $18,234. Because of their relatively high salaries, Congress members start at $30,156.

Did we mention that Congress’ pay is immune to the sequestration budget cuts its inaction caused?

Do you think Congress deserves the benefits it gets? Why or why not? Sound off on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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