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As befitting the former leader of the free world, former Presidents of the United States receive pensions and benefits after they leave office. This retirement compensation was not available until after 1958, due to an Act of Congress. Previous to that, former Presidents had to work for an income after their term was complete, and received no federal funds.
According to the Former Presidents Act, former Presidents receive a monthly allowance from the Secretary of the Treasury equal to the basic pay of the head of an executive department. This also applies to presidents who resign from office. As of January 2011, this amount was $199,700 according to the Office of Personnel Management. The pension begins to be paid immediately when the President departs office at noon on Inauguration Day, January 20. However, the amount is not paid during any time that the former President holds a paid position in the Federal Government of in the government of the District of Columbia.
The outgoing President also receives transition funds for seven months beginning the month before January 20, according to the Presidential Transition Act. This enables the chief executive to relocate to private life and is used for office space, staff compensation, communication, printing and postage. Even a President who resigns his office is entitled to these funds.
Office and Travel
Former Presidents also receive funds for an office staff and space at any location in the U.S., subject to a maximum cap, which is higher during the first 30 months of leaving office than after. Any compensation beyond this cap has to come from private funds. At the discretion of the General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator, this office continues to function until six months after the President’s death to complete any unfinished business. The Former President also receives travel funds for himself and two staff members for official business.
Former Presidents, their spouses, widows and minor children receive medical treatment at military hospitals. Secret Service protection is also extended for 10 years to Presidents who serve after January 1, 1997, to their spouses, and children up to age 16. Former Presidents are granted state funerals after their deaths, which include some military honors, any formal Presidential requests, lying in state at the Capital Rotunda and a public closed casket viewing. Finally, Former Presidents are entitled to presidential libraries managed by the National Archives, which contain, among other artifacts, the President’s official records and papers.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.