Millionaire Members of Congress and Their Taxpayer-Funded Pensions

Story Stream
recent articles

In 2018, the latest year available, 617 retired members of Congress received federal pensions: 318 at an average of $75,528, under the older (CSRS) retirement program, and 299 at an average of $41,208 under the current (FERS) system.

That is an annual payout of $36.2 million per year.

Open The Books' honorary chairman, the late Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) refused his pension, though Congress changed the law so those starting service after 2003 cannot decline pension coverage.

What do Congressional felons and Congressional millionaires have in common? They both get taxpayer-subsidized pensions.

No members have ever been stripped of their federal pension because of a public corruption conviction – our auditors confirmed this recently.  

All members of Congress who serve for five years are pension eligible at 62-years old, or at 50-years old if they serve for 20 years.

Last year, at Forbes, we calculated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earned $5.7 million in salary during her 35-year congressional career (from $77,400 to today’s $223,500 as Speaker). We estimated the Speaker, qualifies for a $106,363 annual taxpayer-funded pension, and an additional $47,604 a year in Social Security upon retirement, though she carries an estimated net worth between $43 and $202 million. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (with an estimated net worth of $35 million) earned $5.5 million in salary over 37 years (from $75,100 to today’s $193,400, as minority leader in the Senate). Upon retirement, we estimate  McConnell (age 79) qualifies for a $96,738 pension, and he’s also eligible for Social security amounting to an additional $46,164 each year.

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) pled to one felony, admitted to converting “more than $150,000 in Campaign funds…for personal use[,]” and was sentenced to 11 months in prison. Congress forgot to include the misuse of campaign funds in its list of 29 pension-disqualifying felonies, so when Hunter turns 55, with or without his Trump presidential pardon, he’s set to collect $24,200, and over $1.2 million in taxpayer-funded pension payouts by the time he’s 81.

Former Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), convicted on 23 counts of racketeering, fraud, and other corruption charges, and sentenced to 10 years in prison, collected his Congressional pension in prison and still does after being released five years early in 2020. 

Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) have sponsored legislation, efforts we've also highlighted, to open federal pension records to sunshine.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

Show comments Hide Comments