cut congressional retirement benefits first

Congress is again debating whether to cut retirement pay and benefits for our military.  This means cutting benefits for those men and women who fight to protect our freedom in this country.

Let’s look at the figures.  We will go with 30 years of service.  The most recent pension benefits information I could find for Congress is from the year 2007.  There are two possible pension plans to look at, so I’ll look at the one that pays out the least amount of money,  the Federal Employees Retirement Service.

All together, a Congress person, in 2006, would have paid about $12,300 in Social Security and Federal Employees Retirement taxes.  The military also pays Social Security taxes at the same percentage.

The plan for Congress calculates the pension as such:  the average of the three highest years salary multiplied by the accrual rate at which benefits accumulate for each year of service  multiplied by the number of years service.  The average of the three highest years salary for 2004-2006 is $161,800.  The accrual rate is set at 1.7% for the first 20 years, and 1% for the remaining 10 years.  So a member of Congress who would have retired in 2007 with 30 years of service would receive:

($161,800 x .017 x 20 = $55,012) + ($161,800 x .01 x 10 = $16,180) = $71,192 per year.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.  This does not include Social Security or money from their Thrift Savings Plan, which is like a 401k.  In the TSP, the federal government can contribute up to 5% of their salary, not 5% of what they contribute themselves.

The medical benefits are pretty darn good also.  We look at the insurer that had both the highest rate for a family plan @ $1,657 annually, and the lowest premium for a family plan @ $748 annually, in 2011.  Within a 35 mile radius of where I live, there were 500+ providers.  I couldn’t find any information about deductibles or co-pays, but as this health plan covers all federal employees, I imagine those aren’t too outrageous.

Now let’s look at the average soldier, an enlisted person retiring in 2008 with 30 years of service.  This would be the men and women who actually go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan and put their lives at risk.  This isn’t the officers or higher-up folks.  This is the average GI Joe and Jane.

As the salaries and retirement benefits are the same across all 5 services, it’s safe to just say Army.  For the highest enlisted Army rank, E-9, the soldier would retire with an annual pension of $53,916.  Plus, they get the added benefit of the possibility of being recalled to serve!

I wasn’t able to get actual  medical benefits information on the web, but in talking with some friends who have retired from the service, I received it first hand.  Tricare Prime is the insurance for military retirees.  The 2011 annual premium is about $500.  This beats the price retired Congressmen have to pay for a family plan but, within a 40 mile radius of where I live, there is one facility that accepts Tricare, Fort Lee.  That’s it.  There is no choice of doctors, as it is a military facility.  There are no private practice doctors here that accept Tricare insurance.  One facility versus 500+ for a military retiree living near my home.

Yet Congress wants to cut the military retirement benefits.  I freely admit I come from a family of several who have so proudly served in the military for this country, but even if I didn’t, this doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think any Congressmen or women read my blog, so tell me, what does the average person think about this?  Is our military getting what they deserve?

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5 Responses to cut congressional retirement benefits first

  1. I won’t go off on a big political rant here about what I think Congress is doing wrong when it comes to the budget, especially when it comes to the GOP’s recent plans, but I will tell you, Shell, that I absolutely agree that it is wrong to cut benefits to retired service men and women.

    I also found a great graphic yesterday with some facts that I know you’ll find just as interesting as I did. Over 50% of Congressmen and women are millionaires. Want to know how many U.S. citizens are millionaires? 4.6%

    These Congressmen and women have had other jobs that have gotten them a lot of money over the years, jobs from which they will also get retirement benefits. I don’t think many of them exactly need our tax dollars.

    It’s things like this and Congress’ refusal to raise taxes on the rich and corporations that makes me angry. These people can afford to make those “sacrifices!” (Ha! It’s not a sacrifice at all.)

    I’m going to inherit a lot of money when I turn 21 and when my grandmother dies (but I’m not looking forward to the latter reason. She better stay alive as long as possible!) and I quite frankly would not mind paying higher taxes on it.

    I just want to be proud of where my tax money goes! I want to know that it’s being used to keep me safe by paying for the military, firemen, policemen, and all other security forces, repaving and creating highways, paying the teachers that taught me, funding NASA and other critical scientific research and other forms of research that has allowed our country to remain a superpower for so long, providing healthcare to those that are old, or too poor, et cetera. And currently, I’m not proud of where my money is going at all.

    Unfortunately, that one time I elected myself to be Supreme Ruler of American so I could clean up this mess did not go well. No one seemed to acknowledge my newfound place of power, and they threatened to drag me off to a hospital again. But this is all going to change once my John Boeher costume arrives in the mail. They can’t catch me this time! :p

    • Darn it! 4.6% is the figure from 1998, which is what happens when I quickly look things up and Fox Business LIES to me. Well, they didn’t lie. They just gave me an article from 1998, and I didn’t read the date. Anyways, that number is much lower now.

      The other figure is from the graphic, and is correct, and I confirmed it on multiple sites.

  2. Seashell says:

    So sorry that Supreme Ruler of America thing didn’t work out for you! 🙂 That title sounds like it beats President any day!

  3. Seashell says:

    Two of my favorite foods….

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