Former Presidents Act

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The Former Presidents Act (known also as FPA; 3 U.S.C. § 102 note (P.L. 85-745))[1] is a 1958 U.S. federal law that provides several lifetime benefits to former presidents of the United States who have not been removed from office solely pursuant to Article Two of the United States Constitution.[2]

History[edit]

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 (equal to $662,328 today) annual pension for former chief executives in 1912, but congressmen questioned the propriety of such a private pension. That prompted legislation to provide benefits to former presidents.[2]

When the Former Presidents Act took effect, there were two living former presidents: Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to fall under the act upon leaving office.[citation needed]

The original act provided for lifetime Secret Service protection for former presidents. In 1994, protection was reduced to ten years for presidents first taking office after 1996. This protection limitation was reversed in early 2013 by Pub.L. 112–257 (text) (pdf) also known as the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012.[3]

All living former presidents and their spouses after Dwight D. Eisenhower are now entitled to receive lifetime Secret Service protection. Their children are entitled to protection "until they become 16 years of age".[4]

Current status[edit]

By law, former presidents are entitled to a pension, staff, office expenses, medical care, health insurance, and Secret Service protection.

Pension[edit]

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 2020, it is $219,200 per year.[5] The pension begins immediately after a president's departure from office.[6] A former president's spouse may also be paid a lifetime annual pension of $20,000 if they relinquish any other statutory pension.[2]

Transition[edit]

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.[2]

Staff and office[edit]

Private office staff and related funding is provided by the Administrator of the General Services Administration. People 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 them, not exceeding an annualized total of $150,000 for the first 30 months and $96,000 thereafter.[2][7]

Medical insurance[edit]

Former presidents are entitled to medical treatment in military hospitals; they pay for this at rates set by the Office of Management and Budget. Two-term presidents may buy health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.[2]

Secret Service protection[edit]

From 1965 to 1996, former presidents were entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection, for themselves, 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.[8] Under this statute, Bill Clinton would still be entitled to lifetime protection, and all subsequent presidents would have been entitled to ten years of protection.[9] On January 10, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, reinstating lifetime Secret Service protection for his predecessor George W. Bush, himself, and all subsequent presidents.[10]

Richard Nixon relinquished his Secret Service protection in 1985, the only president to do so.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Former Presidents Act". National Archives. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Stephanie Smith (March 18, 2008). "Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits" (PDF). Federation of American Scientists. Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 7, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  3. ^ "Public Law 112-257 112th Congress" (PDF). govinfo. U.S. Government Publishing Office. January 10, 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  4. ^ Ann Compton (January 10, 2013). "Lifetime Secret Service Protection Restored for Presidents Bush and Obama". ABC News. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Pay & Leave : Salaries & Wages - OPM.gov". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Brandon, Emily (January 16, 2009). "President Bush Will Get a $196,700 Pension". US News and World Report. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2012. Former presidents currently receive a pension that is equal to pay for the head of an executive department.
  7. ^ U.S. General Services Administration. "Presidential Transition Issue Paper" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2021. At the end of the transition period, establishes the permanent office of the former President, and maintains a budget to manage the office during the lifetime of the President.
  8. ^ "United States Secret Service: History". U.S. Department of Treasury. Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 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)
  9. ^ Ginsberg, Wendy (August 22, 2008). "Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefit" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. U.S. Department of State. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 31, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  10. ^ "Obama OKs lifetime Secret Service for presidents". USA TODAY. USAToday. January 10, 2013. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  11. ^ Sharkey, Nancy (July 28, 1985). "Follow-Up On The News; Nixon Guards". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 31, 2021. Retrieved November 18, 2008. 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.