Members of Congress will get a $20,000 raise in 2018 while senior citizens on social security will see payments go up $2 per month.
Members of Congress will not get a $20,000 pay raise in 2018. In fact, pay rates for Congress have been frozen since 2010, so Congress hasn’t received a raise in eight years. And senior citizens will see their social security payments increase more than $2 per month in 2018.
It’s not clear where claims that Congress is getting a $20,000 raise in 2018 while Social Security beneficiaries get a $2 benefits increase came from. But the rumor spread across social media in December 2017 and fueled frustration with Congress that many Americans were already feeling.
We’ll provide a little background and take a look at both claims.
The last time members of Congress got a raise was in fiscal year 2009. Congress first elected to freeze their own pay in the fiscal year 2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. Each year after, the lawmakers have followed suit. And, the fiscal year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill was no different. Again, Congress elected not to give itself a raise.
Rank-and-file members of both the House and the Senate earn $174,000 annual salaries. The House speaker earns $223,500, and the president pro temp of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders of both chambers of Congress earn $193,400 each year, according to the Congressional Research Service.
And, even if members of Congress decided that they did want to give themselves a $20,000 raise, it wouldn’t be that simple. The 1989 Ethics Reform Act requires that congressional pay raises must be based on trends in private-sector pay and the rate of inflation. That means Congress couldn’t just decide to give itself a $20,000 raise.
It’s not clear where the idea that Social Security benefits would increase $2 per month in 2018 came from — but it’s not based in reality.
The annual Social Security benefits increase — known as the cost of living adjustment (COLA) — is based on the consumer price index from the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017. In 2018, that means Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will see a 2 percent overall increase. Given that the average Social Security monthly benefit is well over $1,000, benefits increases will be far greater than $2 per month.
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