Social Security: Do Federal Officials (Including Congress and the President) Pay In?

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Almost everyone — including U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives, presidents, vice presidents, and federal judges (as well as all other federal government officials and employees) — pays into Social Security via taxes and can receive benefits. However, this wasn’t always the case.

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According to AARP, The Social Security Act of 1935 exempted “services performed in the employ of the United States Government” from positions whose workers paid into the system and received benefits. This means that Social Security tax was not taken out of congressional salaries.

Although Congress voted to include itself in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to have a percentage of their pay taken out to fund annuities in the 1940s, AARP noted that it wasn’t until the 1980s that Congress overhauled the Social Security program to avoid a shortfall in the system’s funding.

As part of the Social Security Amendments of 1983, the federal workforce was included under the Social Security system. Under this law, Congress, the president and other federal officials and employees began paying Social Security taxes on Jan. 1, 1984, per AARP.

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There were some transitional rules, the Social Security Administration (SSA) says, such as:

  • 1. Executive and judicial branch employees hired before Jan. 1, 1984, were given a choice of whether to switch to Social Security or stay under the old CSRS.
  • 2. Employees of the legislative branch who were not participating in the CSRS system were mandatorily covered under Social Security. Those who were in the CSRS system were also given the same choice as employees in the executive and judicial branches.
  • 3. All federal employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 1984, are mandatorily covered under Social Security.

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According to the SSA, there are still some federal employees that were hired before Jan. 1, 1984, who do not participate in the Social Security system.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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