Presidential retirement benefits were non-existent until the enactment of the Former Presidents Act (FPA) in 1958. Since then, presidential retirement benefits have included a lifetime annual pension, staff and office allowances, travel expenses, Secret Service protection and more.
Former presidents are offered a taxable lifetime pension equal to the annual rate of basic pay for the heads of executive branch departments, like the Cabinet Secretaries. This amount is set annually by Congress and is currently (in 2011) $199,700 per year. The pension starts the minute the president officially leaves office at noon on Inauguration Day. Widows of former presidents are provided with a $20,000 annual lifetime pension and mailing privileges, unless they choose to waive their right to the pension.
In 1974, the Justice Department ruled that presidents who resign from office before their official terms of office expire are entitled to the same lifetime pension and benefits extended to other former presidents. However, presidents who are removed from office due to impeachment forfeit all benefits.
For the first 7 months, beginning one month before the January 20 inauguration, former presidents get transition funding the help them transition back into private life. Granted under the Presidential Transition Act, the funds can be used for office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition. The amount provided is determined by Congress.
Staff and Office Allowances
Six months after a president leaves office, he or she gets funds for an office staff. During the first 30 months after the leaving office, the former president gets a maximum of $150,000 per year for this purpose. Thereafter, the Former Presidents Act stipulates that the aggregate rates of staff compensation for a former President cannot exceed $96,000 annually. Any additional staff costs must be paid for personally by the former president.
Former presidents are compensated for office space and office supplies at any location in the United States. Funds for former presidents' office space and equipment are authorized annually by Congress as part of the budget for the General Services Administration (GSA).
Under a law enacted in 1968, the GSA makes funds available to former presidents and no more than two of his or her staff members for travel and related expenses. To be compensated, the travel must be related to the former president's status as an official representative of the United States government. In other words, travel for pleasure is not compensated. The GSA determines all appropriate costs for travel.
Secret Service Protection
With the enactment of the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 (H.R. 6620), on Jan. 10, 2013, former presidents and their spouses receive Secret Service protection for their lifetimes. Under the Act, protection for the spouses of former presidents terminates in the event of remarriage. Children of former presidents receive protection until they reach age 16.
The Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 reversed a law enacted in 1994 that terminated Secret Service protection for former presidents 10 years after they left office.
Former Presidents and their spouses, widows, and minor children are entitled to treatment in military hospitals. Former presidents and their dependants also have the option of enrolling in private health insurance plans at their own expense.
Former presidents are traditionally granted state funerals with military honors. Details of the funeral are based on the wishes of the former president's family.
Former Presidents Act of 1958
The Presidential Transition Act of 1963
Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000
18 U.S.C. 3056 - Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service