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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Members of Congress Pay Social Security Taxes

Q: Do members of Congress pay Social Security taxes?

A: Yes, ever since 1984.


Do members of Congress have to pay Social Security or are they exempt?


All members of the U.S. Congress pay Social Security taxes and have done so since 1984.

A good deal of false information about the House and Senate pension system has been circulating in chain e-mails and Internet postings, mostly based on information that has been outdated for more than two decades. Prior to 1984, members of Congress were covered only by a separate Civil Service Retirement System that was criticized as being overly generous. They did not pay Social Security taxes and received no Social Security retirement credit for their time in office. However, legislation passed in 1983 required members to begin paying into Social Security, effective January 1984. As the Social Security Administration’s Web site states:

SSA: All members of Congress, no matter how long they have been in office, have been paying into the Social Security system since January 1984.

The myth that members of Congress don’t pay into Social Security has found continued rebirth on the Internet despite having been debunked by myth-busting sites including Snopes, TruthorFiction and UrbanLegends. The SSA includes the false claim among its frequently asked questions, as does the U.S. Senate’s “Virtual Reference Desk.” Even the National Taxpayers Union, no friend of congressional pensions, has a page on its site correcting the falsehood.

Anyone looking for an authoritative run-down on the pensions available to House and Senate members may find it in a report on the subject by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.


FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions,” Social Security Administration Web site. 17 Dec. 2007.

SUMMARY of P.L. 98-21, (H.R. 1900),” Social Security Administration Web site. 17 Dec. 2007.

Purcell, Patrick J. “Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress.” Congressional Research Service, 9 Feb. 2007.