Hastert nets six-figure retirement
Three pensions from the three different acts of Dennis Hastert's career will yield roughly $100,000 per year in retirement income for the Plano Republican.
Hastert, who retired from the U.S. House Monday and will turn 66 in January, taught government and coached wrestling at Yorkville High School for 16 years before entering politics. For that, he draws a monthly pension of $1,062 per month, or just under $12,800 annually, according to state records.
Bitten by the political bug, Hastert won election in 1980 to the Illinois General Assembly, where he served six years in the state House before moving on to Washington. His state legislator's pension delivers $1,844 per month, or a little more than $22,100 yearly, the records show.
Details of congressional pensions are not a matter of public record under a 1989 lawsuit won by the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. But formulas for determining pensions are known. The Washington-based National Taxpayers Union provides calculations by applying those formulas to sophisticated spreadsheets that factor in all available information gleaned from government records.
Pete Sepp, the taxpayer union's vice president for policy and communication, said the organization calculates that Hastert will draw slightly less than $67,000 per year, with his eligibility starting in December.
Congressional pensions are based on an average of a retiree's three highest salary years. For Hastert, Sepp said, that would be 2006, when he earned $212,000 as House speaker; 2005, when that post paid $208,100; and either 2007, when he earned $165,200 as a rank-and-file member, or 2004, when the speaker's job paid $175,000.
Hastert, Sepp said, will qualify for cost-of-living increases in his federal employee pension tied to the Consumer Price Index. When the CPI rises by 2 percent or less, a federal retiree's annuity increases by the same amount. When the CPI exceeds 2 percent, retirees' increases still correlate to -- but do not exactly match -- that increase.
Federal employees' pensions are funded through a combination of taxes and participants' contributions, with members of Congress contributing 1.3 percent of their salaries.
Hastert, like any other federal employee, also had the opportunity to participate in the voluntary Thrift Savings Plan, which allows workers to contribute up to 10 percent of their salary into a tax-deferred retirement fund.
Since 1984, all members of Congress have participated in Social Security, with 6.2 percent of their pay deducted in Social Security taxes.
Hastert's office had no immediate comment on the pension figures.
A pension sampler
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert soon will be eligible to draw the third of three pensions that, combined, will pay about $100,000 annually from his work as a teacher, state legislator and member of Congress. Here is a sampling of other pension payments.
Gary Catalani, superintendent, Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 -- $214,248
Former Gov. George Ryan -- $197,000*
John Conyers, superintendent, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 -- $186,000
Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton -- $186,000 each.
Mary Curley, superintendent, Hinsdale Elementary District 181 -- $185,187
* Ryan's pension before it was eliminated on his conviction for racketeering and fraud.
Source: General Services Administration, National Taxpayers Union and Daily Herald reports.