Superheroes Round 22: Captain America’s Back Pay
At some point in the Captain America: Civil War movie, the titular character declares that he can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood where he grew up, because the rents are so high.
But Michael noticed something important: US servicemembers, while listed as missing in action, are entitled to back pay. If they have dependents (such as a spouse or child), they receive the pay. Otherwise, the servicemember gets it on returning.
On the other hand, someone who has been missing for twelve months is subject to have the status reviewed. Captain America could then be declared officially dead, so he may only be entitled to the first twelve months of back pay.
Assuming $200 a month, which is about right for a captain in WWII with a very short service record, gets you a back pay total of $2400.
But back pay is required to be paid with interest… daily.
With compounding interest for about, say, 64 years, at an 8% interest rate per year (based on the older years listed here, as recent years have had lower than the usual interest rates)… gives you about $401,000 in back pay. At a slightly higher interest rate (11% or so, matching the oldest years listed) that could get you about $2.7 million.
But! That $200 base pay is without any bonuses for hazard pay or special duty. (Being turned into a super-soldier and battling HYDRA supervillains should probably count as hazardous special duty.) That might allow for as much as a 50% increase, or more.
Rent in Brooklyn these days could be $1700 per month for a one bedroom apartment. If you’ve got $400,000 in the bank account, you could afford that, plus living expenses, for more than ten years without having too many problems.
Of course, he only gets the back pay if he makes a point of both being alive, and asking for it…