Should you ever decide to run as a Representative or Senator in U.S. Congress, you can look forward to some generous retirement benefits. This is assuming you get elected and stay in the job for a while. As with anyone working in government, federal retirement plans can have multiple options that go far beyond just acquiring Social Security. How long you’ve been in Congress will determine how extensive those options will be.
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
If you happen to be a Congressman who’s been serving since the year 1984, you can enjoy choosing from more retirement options than those in office before that year. One of those is choosing the Civil Service Retirement System that provides four pension options. The first enables you to a full CSRS pension if you’re at least 60 and been in Congress for 10 years. Or, you can get the same pension at age 62 if you’ve been in Congress at least five years or with any other federal service. The second plan gives a reduced pension if you leave Congress at ages 55 to 59 after 30 years experience and without resignation or expulsion. The third plan is a deferred, full pension after retiring before the minimum age and waiting until age 60 to get the benefits. The fourth is a deferred, reduced pension at age 50 if you retire before that age with 10 years of Congressional experience or 20 years of federal service.
Social Security (with CSRS Option)
Should you be a Congressman serving since before 1984, you also can enjoy choosing a dual coverage plan of both the CSRS plan with Social Security. All member of Congress have been required to pay into Social Security since January 1, 1984, according to Senate.gov. (See Reference 1) You can take Social Security alone in your retirement plan if you don’t want any other coverage. For Social Security, you can take full benefits at full retirement age of 66 and after forty quarters of employment. Or, you can take reduced benefits at age 62 that’s permanently reduced based on the number of months before full retirement age and your age of actual retirement.
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Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)
If you were elected in 1984 or after, you can only take the Federal Employee Retirement System plan, but it’s another option for those elected before 1984. FERS is still very generous and provides a full pension to Congressmen aged 62 or older, or taken at age 50 with at least 20 years of Congressional experience. But you can take the full pension at any age after 25 years of Congressional experience. An immediate, reduced pension is also available to those aged 55 if born before 1948 with 10 years Congressional experience. Deferred pensions are also available at age 62 with five years of Congressional experience. A deferred and reduced pension at ages 55 to 57 requires 10 years of Congressional experience.
The Thrift Savings Plan
The Thrift Savings Plan is an extension of the FERS plan and works basically like a 401K for Congressmen. As of 2011, you can voluntarily contribute up to $16,500 a year in a TSP if you happen to be on FERS. The federal government will match any contributions of up to five percent of your pay. No taxes have to be paid until you decide to take the funds out in retirement.
- capitol image by Andrew Breeden from Fotolia.com