- Net Worth: $900,000
- Birthday: November 20, 1942
- Education: University of Delaware, Syracuse University
Joe Biden is one of the early frontrunners to be the Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election. Though the former vice president hasn’t committed to running, he’s acting like a candidate in nearly every regard, campaigning for Democrats across the country and staying in the public eye more than a year after leaving office.
Biden, who served in the US Senate from 1973 to 2009 and is still Delaware’s longest-serving senator, served two terms as vice president under Barack Obama. Obama surprised him and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017 for his service to the country.
Joe Biden Net Worth: $900,000
Joe Biden’s net worth is $900,000, according to an estimate by Celebrity Net Worth. That makes Biden one of the least wealthy politicians of his stature. Biden has spent almost his entire adult life in government. Unlike Bill and Hillary Clinton, he hasn’t spent his post-government years raking in millions in speaking fees — something that could enable him to avoid an issue that dogged Hillary Clinton repeatedly during her 2016 campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about Joe Biden’s net worth:
1. His Senate Salary Climbed Steadily Over the Decades
Biden played football in high school, double majored in History and Political Science at the University of Delaware, then attended Syracuse University law school. After school, he worked briefly as a law clerk, then as a public defender before running for New Castle City Council, which he won. Biden always had his eyes set on the Senate. When he met his first wife, he told her he would be a senator by the time he was 30-years-old, and eventually president.
In 1972, Biden ran for the United States Senate in Delaware, and became the fifth-youngest senator in history at age 29. Shortly after he was elected, his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. Biden hadn’t taken his position yet and considered resigning his seat, but ultimately kept it and returned to Delaware every night he was in Washington to take care of his sons.
Biden became known for his foreign policy while in the Senate. He warned against Operation Desert Storm, but did eventually support war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also influential in drafting laws on crime and law enforcement, civil liberties and minority issues, and government operations. He remains Delaware’s longest-serving senator.
Under Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, Congress is required to set its own pay. The last time the salary was increased was in January 2009, when Congress increased their salary by 2.8% to $174,000. However, during Biden’s years in the Senate the salary changed a handful of times. When he started out in 1973 senators made $42,500 per year. From 1975 to 1977 they made $44,600 per year, increasing to $57,500 from 1977 to 1978 and $60,662 from 1979 through 1982. In the year 1983 Biden and other senators made $69,800 per year, and in 1984 he made $72,600. In 1985 and 1986 the salary was set to $75,100. For the first two-thirds of 1987 it was $77,400, though it changed to $89,500 for the last third of the year. In 1990, it was $98,400 and in 1991 it was $101,900. By 1992 the salary was set to $129,500, and in 1993 it increased again to $133,600, where it stayed until 2000, when it was raised to $141,300. In 2001, senators made $145,100, in 2002 they made $150,000, and in 2003 they made $154,700. The pay rate kept increasing, to $158,100 per year in 2004, $162,100 in 2005, $165,200 in 2006 and 2007, and $169,300 in 2008. By the time it increased in 2009, Biden was already serving as Vice President.
2. He’s Set for Life Thanks to the Former Presidents Act
Biden unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988, and again in 2008. Though he didn’t win the second time either, Democratic nominee Barack Obama chose him as his running mate for his foreign policy experience. In his role as vice president, he traveled to work on national security and foreign policy issues, but also negotiated with Congress on the 2009 economic stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act, and other domestic issues.
The current salary of the Vice President is $243,500, but when Biden was in office it was $230,700. He served for eight years in the role, so this salary makes up a significant portion of his wealth.
There are benefits after leaving office, too. Under the Former Presidents Act, presidents receive a pension and funding to help “maintain the dignity” of the presidency. This can go towards things like an office, staff, and travel. It’s slightly different for the vice president. For one thing, Biden doesn’t get Secret Service protection like the former president does. He also receives his retirement pension as President of the Senate, the other role for the vice president. Time estimates his pension to be around $248,670 per year.
Health insurance is not covered under the Former Presidents Act, but if federal employees like Biden are enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for at least five years, which Biden was, they will continue receiving benefits even after their time in office ends.
Presidents can also request transition funds to be used for the president and vice president post-office. President Obama requested $9.5 million to help his and Biden’s family transition out of the presidency, including $1 million to go toward briefing the Trump administration.
During his time in office, Biden worked to pass bills he felt would help the middle class, including the Affordable Care Act. More recently, he’s spoken out about income inequality. At the Brookings Institution in May 2018, he laid out the basics of a plan to fix growing inequality in the United States.
“This gap is yawning,” he said, according to a CNN report. “And it’s having the effect of pulling us apart. You see the politics of it. And the country’s not going to stand for it forever.”
Some of his solutions include making higher education free, allowing low-wage earners to move between jobs and discuss wages, and closing tax loopholes. While Biden hasn’t said that he would run for president again in 2020, he also hasn’t ruled it out, according to Politico.
“I know Barack always asked me that question. And he said what’s going to make the decision,” Biden said, according to the Politico piece. “I‘ve got to be able to look in the mirror, and, if I walk away, know I’m not walking away because I’m afraid or I’m worried about losing or that I just don’t want to take on the responsibility.”
3. He Doesn’t Have Any Investments, Though His Wife Has a Few
Biden doesn’t have many investments, something he’s said publicly.
“Don’t hold against me that I don’t own — that I don’t own a single stock or bond,” he said in 2014. “Don’t hold it — I have no savings accounts. But I got a great pension and I got a good salary.”
The Washington Post reported that his claim was technically correct. Joe Biden doesn’t own any stocks. However, his wife does. She has a tax-sheltered annuity made up of different fund investments and two deposits with the Wilmington Savings Fund Society each between $50,001 and $100,000 (politicians are only required to list ranges on disclosure forms, not specific amounts).
4. He and His Wife Make Money From Books and He’s Working at University of Pennsylvania
In 2008, Biden wrote a book called Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics. It did not sell very well, bringing in only $201 in royalties in 2011. However his second book, Promise Me, Dad, about his son Beau Biden’s young death, was a New York Times bestseller in 2017.
Joe Biden is now serving as a Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He won’t actually be teaching, but will be focused on “diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security,” according to the university. In the role, he will lead the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, based in Washington, D.C. He is affiliated with the Wharton School, and has joint appointments at the School of Arts and Sciences and in the Annenberg School for Communication.
After leaving office, many presidents and vice presidents accept lucrative speaking engagements. So far, Biden has not gone this route. He went on one speaking tour, but has not made millions for speaking to corporations or organizations, like other politicians have.
According to tax records, the couple gave an average of $369 to charity over the last ten years. The Daily Beast listed Biden as one of the “stingiest politicians,” noting that he donated less than the average American. That could change now that Biden is not in office.
5. He’s Still Paying Off His Home
The Bidens carry some debt, mainly from houses. In 2013, they refinanced their mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates. As of 2014, they owed “between $500,001 and $1,000,000 on two mortgages, plus between $250,001 and $500,000 on a home equity line of credit,” according to the Washington Post. They also rent out a property in Delaware for around $2,200 per month.
When Beau Biden had brain cancer, the couple considered selling the Wilmington home to pay for his treatment. Biden recalled that Obama offered financial assistance, which in the end was not needed.
While they now live in their home in Wilmington, Delaware, they said in 2017 they were hoping to also find a small home in D.C. They plan to live in D.C. during the week for work, and return to Delaware on the weekends to be with their grandchildren.