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After retiring from a 36-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives last month, Norm Dicks has no doubt that he’s worth every penny of his new pension: It will allow the Washington state Democrat to cash a monthly check from the U.S. government for $7,365.82.

That’s the net pay on his gross annual pension of $107,268, or $8,939 per month.

“I think I did a good job for the people in the state of Washington, you know. I think that this is fair, I really do,” Dicks, 72, said in an interview.

Dicks, who’s now working as a consultant with defense companies, is among a handful of departing members of Congress who are eligible for six-figure pensions in the first year of retirement. If he lives long enough, his pension could exceed his congressional salary of $174,000 in 2012, with members eligible for annual cost-of-living increases.

Altogether, about 75 new retirees will add to the estimated $28 million in yearly pension costs for Congress.

Critics say the pension system is far too generous and that members of Congress should put their retirement money on the table as they look for ways to cut federal spending.