How do I get that kind of money after leaving a job?
Everyone knows being President of the United States is a difficult job, but it comes with a lot of perks. If you were commander-in-chief, you’d get special access to a top-notch security team, a private jet, and even your very own movie theater in the White House. But there are some lesser-known benefits that come with the most prestigious title in the country — including some hefty post-presidential perks. So, do presidents get paid for life? Here’s everything you need to know about life after the Oval Office, no matter how popular (or not) a president may have been.
Like most federal employees, U.S. presidents get a pension once they’ve retired. However, unlike most federal employees, the presidential pension has a lot more cushion to it. According to the Former Presidents Act, a federal law that outlines lifetime benefits to former presidents, the Secretary of the Treasury provides an annual stipend to all living former presidents. As of 2021, that hefty pension amounts to approximately $221,400 per year, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). That’s how much President Joe Biden will receive once he leaves office, and yes, that’s how much money former President Donald Trump is entitled to — even though he was impeached by the House twice.
But former presidents don’t just receive pension perks after they leave office. In fact, they get benefits worth far more than that: the Former Presidents Act also provides former presidents with a lifetime allowance for office space and staffing (starting six months after they leave office), yearly reimbursement for up to $1 million in travel expenses, a lifetime of Secret Service protection, state-funded funerals with full honors, and specialized medical insurance (for those enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for at least five years). Additionally, spouses of former presidents are eligible for up to $500,000 in yearly reimbursement for security and travel expenses.
In total, these perks for ex-presidents end up costing taxpayers a pretty penny — around $4 million annually, according to a 2020 report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTPF). Per their data, “a total of $56 million in perks and benefits [were] provided to” former presidents Carter, Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Obama between 2000 and 2020, with Bush collecting the highest average amount of yearly payments. However, now that Trump has joined the list of Oval Office alumni, he just might take the lead. In the month after he left office, the Trump family’s travel expenses cost taxpayers over $140,000, according to Business Insider — and that’s a low estimate. If that trend continues, the Trump family alone could spend nearly $1.7 million in taxpayer money to cover travel expenses by 2022, per data from CREW. So, as it turns out, life after the Oval Office isn’t all that bad, even if you’re only a one-term president.