Government life insurance policies for the Vice President, Chief Justice and speaker of the House jumped $9,400 last month - to $75,000 each - as a result of a February pay raise for top elected, appointed and career federal official.
Unlike other federal political appointees, who get a maximum coverage of $70,000, and top career employees who are limited to $60,000 in insurance (including a $10,000 optional package they may purchase), the three top officials are allowed to buy an extra $5,000 of insurance to match their new annual salaries.
Walter Mondale, Warren Burger and Thomas P. O'Neill (D-Mass.) were among approximately 15,000 federal officials whose life insurance benefits authomatically went up because of pay raises President Ford approved before he left office.
Federal life insurance benefits (which employees pay for at the rate of 35.3 cents biweekly per $1,000 of coverage) are tied to annual salaries. The face value of the policy goes up each time there is a pay raise or the employee gets a promotion entitling him or her to larger life insurance coverage.
Government-backed life insurance benefits are linked to base pay, rounded off to the next highest $1,000 figure, and then $2,000 is added by law. That means that a worker who gets $28,500 in pay is entitled to a $31,000 base policy. In addition, any employee may buy a $10,000 optional policy. The maximum amount of insurance, both regular and optional, which the career employee may get is limited to $60,000.
But since the pay of the Vice President, Chief Justice and House speaker went up from $65,600 to $75,000, they will be allowed to purchase an additional $5,000 insurance up to $75,000 to match - but not exceed - their government salaries.
Members of Congress, who got a 29 per cent pay raise in March, also now are entitled to extra insurance because of the pay increases.
Senior civil servants in the top steps of Grade 16, most Grade 17 workers and all Grade 18 workers now get $47,500. That amount, for insurance purposes, is rounded off to $48,000 and to that is added the $2,000 feature all government workers get. So their face value life insurance package is $50,000, and they can elect to buy the optional insurance policy of $10,000, raising their total government coverage to $60,000.
Cabinet officers and other political appointees - who earn from $66,000 to $47,500, also got automatic pay increases, and that raised their entitlement for basic insurance.
Only a handful of top federal officials - including the Vice President, Chief Justice and speaker of the House - are permitted to exceed the $60,000 basic and optional insurance ceiling for career employees, or the $70,000 maximum for political appointees. They may purchase an extra $5,000 to give them policies equal to the amount of their annaul salary.
President Carter, whose salary is $200,000, is permitted by law to a face-value and optional life insurance policy of $70,000. But since his salary goes above the $70,000 cutoff, he too, is permitted to buy optional life insurance coverage (at a steeper rate than regular life insurance premiums) up to the amount of his $200,000 salary.