Former Presidents Act
Before 1958, the U.S. federal government provided no pension or other retirement benefits to former United States presidents. Andrew Carnegie offered to endow a US$25,000 annual pension for former Chief Executives in 1912, but congressmen questioned the propriety of such a private pension. Legislation introduced that year to establish a presidential pension failed. In 1955, former President Harry S. Truman's limited financial resources for an office staff prompted legislation to provide benefits to former presidents.
The original act provided for lifetime Secret Service for former presidents. In 1997, it was reduced to 10 years for presidents taking office after 1997. The 1997 amendment was reverted by the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-257). All living former presidents and their spouses are now entitled to receive lifetime Secret Service protection.
By law, former presidents are entitled to a pension, staff and office expenses, medical care or health insurance, and Secret Service protection.
The Secretary of the Treasury pays a taxable pension to the president. Former presidents receive a pension equal to the pay that the head of an executive department (Executive Level I) would be paid, as of 2012[update] $199,700. The pension begins immediately after a president's departure from office. A former president's widow may be paid a lifetime annual pension of $20,000 if she relinquishes any other statutory pension.
Transition funding for the expenses of leaving office is available for seven months. It covers office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition.
Staff and office
Private office staff and related funding is provided by the Administrator of the General Services Administration. Persons employed under this subsection are selected by and responsible only to the former president for the performance of their duties. Each former president fixes basic rates of compensation for persons employed for him (or her), not exceeding an annualized total of $150,000 for the first 30 months and $96,000 thereafter.
Former presidents are entitled to medical treatment in military hospitals; they pay for this at interagency rates set by the Office of Management and Budget. Two-term presidents may buy health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; a GSA legal opinion ruled Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush ineligible.
Secret Service protection
Former presidents were entitled from 1965 to 1996 to lifetime Secret Service protection, for themselves and spouses and children under 16. A 1994 statute, (Pub.L. 103–329), limited post-presidential protection to ten years for presidents inaugurated after January 1, 1997. Under this statute, Bill Clinton would still be entitled to lifetime protection, and all subsequent presidents would have been entitled to ten years' protection. On January 10, 2013, President Barack Obama signed legislation reinstating lifetime Secret Service protection for himself, George W. Bush, and all subsequent presidents.
- Smith, Stephanie (2008-03-18). "Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. U.S. Senate. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- Public Law 112-257 Jan. 10, 2013
- Ann Compton (10 January 2013). "Lifetime Secret Service Protection Restored for Presidents Bush and Obama". ABC News. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Schwemle, Barbara L. "President of the United States: Compensation". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- Emily Brandon (January 16, 2009). "President Bush Will Get a $196,700 Pension". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2012-11-08. "Former presidents currently receive a pension that is equal to pay for the head of an executive department."
- Brandon, Emily (2009-01-16). "President Bush Will Get a $196,700 Pension". Washington, D.C.: U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-04-09. "Bush’s payouts will grow to $203,600 next year and $210,700 in 2011"
- "United States Secret Service: History". U.S. Department of Treasury. Retrieved 2009-04-09. "1965 Congress authorized protection of former presidents and their spouses during their lifetime and minor children until age 16....1997 Congress passed legislation in 1994 stating that presidents elected to office after January 1, 1997, will receive Secret Service protection for 10 years after leaving office. Individuals elected to office prior to January 1, 1997, will continue to receive lifetime protection. (Public Law 103-329)"[dead link]
- Ginsberg, Wendy (2008-08-22). "Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "Obama signs bill granting lifetime Secret Service protection to former presidents and spouses". Washington Post. Associated Press. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Sharkey, Nancy (1985-07-28). "Follow-Up On The News; Nixon Guards". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-18. "His sole reason was to save money for the government, according to his assistant, John Taylor....Mr. Nixon's wife, Pat, dropped Secret Service protection last year. The others on the agency's permanent-protection rolls are former Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, and President Lyndon B. Johnson's widow, Lady Bird."
- National Archives: Former Presidents Act