Whether they live in the White House for four years or eight years, the President of the United States receives a lifetime of benefits that remain in effect even after they leave the office. Thanks to the Former Presidents Act passed in 1958, presidents are entitled to a variety of perks (including real estate) that will support them in more ways than one no matter what they decide to do after office. It’s a pretty worthwhile gig if I do say so myself.
Help with real estate relocation costs
Moving out of the Oval Office for good means going back to “real life,” but that transition will take some time and effort. The federal government allows up to $900,000 to be used for relocating the former president out and the new president in. The ex-pres might get some of that money in the six months after his term to use when winding up the affairs in his office.
Big pension paychecks
If you thought the $400,000 salary presidents get every year they’re in office was great, you’ll be blown away by how much former presidents are still entitled to. Every year for the rest of their lives, former commanders in chief get pensions that match the salary of a Cabinet Secretary—about $211,000 in 2018. That will help a little with one’s real estate losses.
Office real estate staff
Not only do ex-presidents get pension checks, but they also get to expense the money they use to pay for office staff. When they first leave office, they get up to $150,000 for staffing every year, but after the first 30 months, that number drops to $96,000 per year. Hmm, I wonder what MMar-a-Lago office space goes for these days?
Free real estate office space
The administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration includes former presidents’ office space as part of their budget every year. The administrator can set a cap on how much money is put to that office, but the president gets to pick any U.S. location, which could explain why some are more expensive. In the fiscal year 2017, Barack Obama got $84,000 for office space, and Bill Clinton used $511,000 for his. The government provides furnishings and office supplies too. Hmm, I wonder what MMar-a-Lago office space goes for these days?
Former presidents will be public figures for the rest of their lives, and they’re entitled to a lifetime of Secret Service protection. Their spouses get the same benefits (unless an ex-spouse remarries), and their kids can get free security until they turn 16.
Financial security for a spouse
Former presidents don’t need to get too stressed out about saving money in case they die before their spouse does. Widows and widowers of ex-presidents still get a $20,000 pension every year, as long as they aren’t holding another federal office job and don’t remarry before age 60
Just like any other federal employee, presidents can keep their health benefits through retirement as long as they’ve been with the government for five years or more—in most presidents’ cases, that means serving two terms. Jimmy Carter, for instance, doesn’t qualify, but George H.W. Bush does because of his pre-presidential positions, though he chooses not to take them.
- Congressional Budget Office: “S. 1791 Presidential Allowance Modernization Act 0f 2017”
- U.S. General Services Administration: “Presidential Transition Directory”
- National Archives: “Former Presidents Act”
- Federation of American Scientists: “Allowances and Office Staff for Former Presidents, FY2016-FY2018 Appropriations”
- Congress.gov: “H.R.6620 – Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012”
- Congressional Research Service: “Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits”
- The White House Historical Association: “A Presidential Funeral”