Bernie Sanders’ net worth has been a point of discussion again after the Vermont senator was slammed on Twitter for owning three houses. It all started with Sanders’ tweet, where he wondered how many yachts and cars billionaires would need. He was soon criticized for mocking the rich, while he owns three houses himself. Even though owning three houses does not make him a billionaire, it does not make him a part of the majority either. A little dig into the matter has also revealed that Bernie Sanders, who is always after the “top one percent” in the American society, is a de facto millionaire himself.
— Kimberly Morin (@Conservativeind) April 21, 2017
There is no denying the fact that Sanders is one of the least wealthy senators. When he ran for president, he probably had the lowest net worth among all candidates. Still, it is a misconception to consider him to be the one with a modest financial backup. During the presidential race, Senator Sanders released in his financial disclosure that he only had $5,000 annual pension payment that he got because he was the mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989. According to the disclosure, he has no other assets of his own. Every other investment mentioned in the disclosure belonged to his wife, Jane, who is an educator. And, there is no denying the fact that everything mentioned in the disclosure is completely true.
However, there is one aspect of Sanders’ earning that he is not expected to disclose in his financial disclosure form. It is his retirement plan. Sanders’ government retirement saving account, Thrift Savings Plan, is similar to what is known as 401(k) in the private sector. Senator Sanders’ disclosure form does not require him to include the amount he will get when he retires from Congress. In 2014, the joint tax return of Bernie and Jane O’Meara Sanders revealed that they earned around $200,000 for the financial year. The income included the senator’s $174,000 salary.
Senator Sanders’ present senate term ends in 2018. He is supposed to get $71,340 as an annual pension after that. David Blanchett from Morningstar Investment Management calculated that it would take around a million for any other man of Sanders’ age to buy such an annuity, Time reported. It is undisclosed how much Senator Sanders contributes for his Thrift Savings Plan.
If the Vermont senator has been contributing only 3 percent of his salary (during his time in the Senate and the House) and earned at least 5 percent annualized rate of return, he must have already got half a million by 2015. In case he contributes 5 percent, he must have accumulated more than $700,000, not to forget his wife’s retirement plan and his pension. When all that is calculated together, the Sanders’ effective retirement nest egg must be as high as $2 million.
If you compare this with the average retirement benefit in the United States, the Sanders household is far beyond it. Around half of households aged 55 and older do not have any retirement savings. Among the people who do have savings, households aged 65-74 have a median $148,000. The median household in America, with at least one member aged 65 or more, earns $36,895 in a year, which is less than Sanders’ annual pension.
“In 2015, 47.7 million Americans were age 65 and older,” according to the Pension Rights Center. “Half of all older adults had less than $22,887 in yearly income from all sources.”
Bernie and Jane have three houses. With two houses in Burlington, Vermont, and D.C., the couple bought a summer home recently in the Champlain Islands. According to Seven Days magazine, they paid $600,000 for the property.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]