How much do Congressmen get paid?

With the constant political mess in Congress, I started to wonder (again): why do these guys work so hard to get elected?  Is it worth it?

Since Congress is gridlocked  … and, since the President is end-running  Congress on most matters … the fulfillment can’t be “having an impact”.

So, it must be something else.

Money, maybe?

Raises the question: how much dough gets thrown into the pot?



 Here’s the scoop…

For openers, the average member of Congress (there are 529 of them) gets paid $174,000 per year.

House leadership gets paid more … Top is Speaker of the House who gets $223,500 a year.

Not bad … but, not exactly hitting PowerBall.

What else is there?

Well, all members get expense budgets called  Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA)

In 2012, individual representatives received MRA allowances ranging from $1,270,129 to $1,564,613 (depending mostly on travel distance from DC to the reps home district)  … with an average of $1,353,205.  Source

About 2/3’s of the MRA pays staff salaries, so there may be some fancy wining & dining, but not enough to make me cringe.

How about their retirement plan?

I’ve always wondered what retired members of the Congress and Senate got to live on when they retired.

Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. (Certain partial pay early options are also available)

The amount of the pension depends on years of service, an accrual rate (2.5%), and the average of the highest three years of salary.

For example, after 30 years of Congressional service and a high-3 average salary of $161,800, the initial annual Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension for a Member who retired in December 2006 at the end of the 109th Congress would be:
$161,800 x 30 x .025 = $121,350

Federal law limits the maximum CSRS pension that may be paid at the start of retirement to 80% of the Member’s final annual salary

The average annual pension for members of Congress who have retired under CSRS is $52,464. Source:

For those keeping score, that’s about double what folks get if they max Social Security.

And, oh yeah, they get generous health insurance subsidies … wouldn’t want them stuck in some narrow doctors’ network, right?

Add it all up and it’s not a bad package.

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One Response to “How much do Congressmen get paid?”

  1. Andrew L. Says:

    pologies for the tone, but I always find these types of discussions an irritating distraction.

    First, Members elected after 1983 are automatically enrolled in FERS and NOT CSRS. Members elected after 2003 can’t opt out of it even if they want to.

    Second, the average pension for the 250 members retired under FERS is $41,652 as of 2014. This is $30,000 per year less than the 350 Members retired under CSRS.

    Third, the bigger, better deal is the 5% match on employee contributions to the TSP. Through the miracle of compound interest and the low fees charged by TSP, this can net a sizable sum. Much larger than the annuity. This is open to every Federal employee.

    Fourth, don’t take it from me. Judge for yourself.*PLC8%22%40%20%20

    Fifth, the issue with the value equation in Congress is not overpayment, it is under delivery. Based upon the law of the market, will cutting pay and benefits result in more talent or less being attracted to the job?

    By the way, the level of talent attracted by that job should be issue number one. But it isn’t. It is issue number five, which is why I find these types of discussions irritating.

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