You probably already know that when someone becomes President of the USA, they have to reside in the White House. And even if they stay four or eight years, they will get a multitude of lifetime benefits after leaving the office.
If you are wondering how this is possible, the answer is simple. In 1958, the Former President Act was passed. This act offers some perks to the former president, no matter what they want to do after leaving the White House.
Be it special protection or healthcare benefits, read on and find out what perks the former head of state gets after leaving the office.
1. Protection provided by the Secret Service
If you are the President of the United States, you and your family will receive Secret Service protection. This is a must, and every president has had this benefit. This is a matter of national security, and it cannot be ignored.
But have you ever wondered what happens after they leave the office? Even if they are not the head of state anymore, each former president will still get the protection of the Secret Service. Also, their family will receive the same treatment. Still, their kids will get this free protection only until they turn 16.
In the past, between 1956 and 1996, the former presidents got the same type of protection as they do today. But since 1997, some changes have occurred. The former head of state received Secret Service protection only for a limited period of ten years.
In 2013, Barak Obama signed the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, and with this, all subsequent presidents were again entitled to receive lifetime protection.
Fun fact: Richard Nixon is the only president to have ever relinquished his Secret Service protection. This happened in 1985.
2. Substantial pension paychecks
If you think that the salary of a president, while they are in office, is great – $400,000 – well, you need to hear how much money they will get after leaving the office. Yes, the former commanders-in-chief will receive a taxable pension from the Secretary of the Treasury every year for the rest of their lives. The pension begins right when the president formally leaves office on Inauguration Day at noon.
The amount of money they get is the same as the salary of a Cabinet secretary (Executive Level I). From 2020 until 2022, this was $219,200 per year, but since January 2022, the former presidents will receive more money from the state, more precisely $226,300 per year. For example, Barack Obama received a presidential pension of $207,800 a year.
Another thing is that if the spouse of the president relinquishes their right to any other pension, they can too get a pension of $20,000 per year. Again, as with the president, this perk is for life.
Now, what happens if the president resigns before their official terms expire? Well, according to the law, they will get the same benefits as any other former president. This measure was decided by the Justice Department in 1974.
However, if the president is ousted from office as a result of impeachment, they will get no benefits.
3. Staff and office allowances
Six months after they leave office, the former presidents can get a new office. The administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration gave them this benefit, and every year they got an amount of money for this new office space.
Even if the administrator can set a cap on how much money is put into the new space, the former president is allowed to choose any location within the territory of the United States. This little piece of information explains why Bill Clinton received $511,000 per year for his office while Barack Obama got $84,000.
Besides the fact that they get the office fully furnished, including supplies, they also get an office staff. The former president is entitled to a maximum of $150,000 per year for the first 30 months after leaving office. Afterward, they will get a maximum of $96,000 annually for staff expenses.
4. Transition expenses
Saying goodbye to the Oval Office is not that easy, and because of that, the former president will get some help from the state in order to switch back to private life. This help consists of transition funding, and the former president will get it for the first seven months, starting one month before the January 20th inauguration.
As we already said, the former chief of state can use these funds to get a new office, hire staff for that office, and last but not least, cover all the postal expenses regarding this transition.
Congress is the entity that is designated to determine the amount of money that is provided and take care of the whole process.
5. Travel Expenses
According to a 1968 law, the GSA lets the former head of state access travel funds. This law states that the former president and two of their staff members will have their travel and all of the related expenditures covered by the state.
Now, don’t think that when we say travel expenses, we refer to traveling for pleasure, because this is not the case. The travel must be connected to the former president’s capacity as an official representative of the United States government in order to be compensated.
According to the Former President Act, the former head of state can use a military aircraft for official purposes. Sometimes they can take advantage of this for personal purposes, but only if it is a matter of security.
6. Medical expenses
Former presidents, as well as their spouses, widows, and minor children, have the right to get treatment at military hospitals. They get this right as any other federal employee. They can keep their health benefits if they served the government for more than five years. For most presidents, that means that if they served two terms, they are eligible for this. Two-term presidents can get health insurance via the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
For example, George H.W. Bush qualified for this because of the status he had before becoming president, though he chose not to take advantage of this benefit.
If they don’t want to use this benefit, former presidents and their families can also enroll in private health insurance policies at their own expense.
7. Funeral costs
We know that it might sound unsettling, but one of the first tasks that a new commander-in-chief gets is to plan their own funeral. At the moment they pass away, they can benefit from a state funeral, and in this way, the nation can say goodbye to them. The funeral will be planned in accordance with the preferences of the former president and their family.
Today, when we think of a state funeral, the first things that come to mind are the lowered flags, the flag-draped coffin, the flight of twenty-one fighter aircraft, and the gunfire salutes. These are all presidential funeral traditions, and we have witnessed them at most funerals of presidents or former presidents.
The Washington Military District oversees these protocols, but in the end, the family of the former president is the one who determines the specific rites and rituals.
If you want to find out more about the lives of former presidents after they left the Oval Office, this book might be a good starting point.
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