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Something else to think about

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Old 07-20-2002, 07:37 AM
Ed_L's Avatar
Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Location: northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes from Chicago, IL
Posts: 2,824
Something else to think about

Here's one I just received in my e-mail:

>----- Original > Subject: CAN THIS BE TRUE?
>> >
>> >
>> > If this is accurate then here's a somewhat cynical but exceedingly
>> poignant
>> > argument for SS reform.
>> >
>> > SOCIAL SECURITY: (This is worth the read. It's short and to the point.)
>> >
>> > Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years. Our
>> > Senators and Congressmen do not pay into Social Security and, of
>> > they do not collect from it. Social Security benefits were not suitable
>> for
>> > persons of their rare elevation in society.
>> >
>> > They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. Many years
>> > they voted in their own benefit plan. In more recent years, no
>> > congressperson 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
>> > expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred
>> Thousand),
>> > with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their
>> > This is calculated on an average life span for each.
>> >
>> > Their cost for this excellent plan is $00.00. Nada, Zilch. This little
>> perk
>> > they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab
>> > this plan.
>> >
>> > The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General
>> > Funds--our tax dollars at work.
>> >
>> > Now. as for our Social Security Plan, the one you and I pay (or have
>> > into every payday until we retire (which is ALSO matched by our
>> > we can expect to get an average $1,000 per month after retirement.
>> >
>> > Here's the rub let's do the math - we would have to collect our
>> > of monthly benefits for 68.75 YEARS to simply equal three (3) years
>> benefits
>> > paid to Mr. Bradley's wife.
>> >
>> > Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.
>> What
>> > if we simply removed the magic carpet ride (this golden parachute
>> retirement
>> > program) from the Senate and Congress. Put them into the Social
>> > plan with the rest of us and then watch how fast they would fix it.
>> >
>> > If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be
>> and
>> > maybe good changes will evolve.
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Old 07-20-2002, 06:49 PM
Jakaleena's Avatar
Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Posts: 709
I did some checking on this at (an urban legends reference that I use regularly to check facts in email I receive). I went to and did a search for "Congressional Retirement" and this is part of what I found there:

Origins: This piece has been circulating on the Internet since April 2000. So much of it is outdated, inaccurate, or misleading, it's difficult to know where to begin.

It is not true that Congressmen do not pay into the Social Security fund. They pay into the fund just as everyone else does.

It was true prior to 1984 that Congressmen did not pay into the Social Security fund because they participated in a separate program for civil servants (the Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS), but that program was closed to government employees hired after 1983.

It is not true that Congressmen "continue to draw their same pay, until they die." The size of their pensions is determined by a number of factors (primarily length of service, but also when they joined Congress, their age at retirement, their salary, and the pension option they chose when they enrolled) and by law cannot exceed 80% of their salary at the time of their retirement.

The figures given as an example for Senator Bradley [or whatever current member is used depending on your version of the email]($7,900,000 over the course of his and his wife's lifetime, culminating in a top payout of $275,000) are simply outrageous amounts with no basis in reality. There is no conceivable way Senator Bradley could draw anywhere near that amount of money though his pension plan.

It is not true that Congressmen "paid nothing in on any kind of retirement," and that their pension money "comes right out of the General Fund." Whether members of Congress participate in the older Civil Service Retirement System or the newer Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), their pensions are funded through a combination of general tax provisions and contributions from the participants. Right now, members of Congress in the FERS plan must pay 1.3% of their salary to FERS and 6.2% in Social Security taxes.

As of 1998, the average annuity for retired members of Congress was $50,616 for those who retired under CSRS and $46,908 for those who retired under FERS. Not bad, but not the highway robbery this piece makes it out to be.

Another urban legend site says this email has been circulating since at least 1999. Here are a couple of additional resources on the subject:

I do agree that something should be done about the Social Security system, though (preferably before I reach retirement age )!
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Old 07-20-2002, 07:40 PM
Ed_L's Avatar
Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes from Chicago, IL
Posts: 2,824
Well I guess that settles that. I hope something gets done before you retire too. There are actually many cases where when a woman has worked outside the home, she became penalized for it when it came time to figure out her social security retirement. This apparently had to do with something that was written at a time when women did not routinely work outside the home, but it has never been changed.

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