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?