The person that started this meme unfortunately has their facts wrong. Here is the accurate information:
• Members of Congress earn their $174,000 salaries only during their elected terms. (Nope, not for life.)
• They’re eligible for congressional pensions only after five years of service. (For a member of the House, that would mean getting elected to office at least three times.)
Those pensions can’t be tapped until retirement age — and can’t be collected while a lawmaker still gets a federal salary. So John Kerry, for example, can’t collect his congressional pension while he serves as secretary of state, according to Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union.
• The size of the pension depends on years of service and the average of a lawmaker’s highest three years of salary. The exact formula depends on when they started. Meanwhile, every paycheck, lawmakers contribute to both their pensions and Social Security.
• Most congressional pensions are nowhere near a lawmaker’s salary. Under a pre-1984 retirement formula, it couldn’t be more than 80 percent of a lawmaker’s final salary, not counting cost-of-living adjustments. Under current rules, lawmakers could theoretically get more than 80 percent of their salary, but most would need to serve more than 66 years to get that.