Those states opting out of public school teachers having payroll deductions for Social Security sold to their citizens that TEACHERS PENSIONS would replace that retirement benefit and of course as with all PUBLIC PENSIONS---our public school teachers' PENSIONS are disappearing in MOVING FORWARD.
TX AND CA of course with the largest public school system has used its public pension fund as FODDER filled with fraud and profiteering in what everyone knew to be bad Wall Street investments for MUNI-FUNDS. Illinois et al are now PRETENDING these pensions are busting their budgets. This is serious folks----these are our school teachers being left not only with no pensions but deliberately staged to have no SOCIAL SECURITY benefits. Notice the FAR-RIGHT GLOBAL BANKING 1% Clinton neo-liberal states showing up having fleeced their teachers. Please note that before CLINTON ERA 1990s these pension funds were largely sound and close to fully funded. It was only during ROBBER BARON few decades that US City Halls and Treasurer departments stopped funding them or deliberately handing them to Wall Street frauds.
Below we see KENTUCKY as one of those states. Seguing from HOUSING ISSUES last week-------global banking 1% are now selling these states listed below as good states for retiring seniors------supposedly AFFORDABLE. Know what? If a state ties itself to the lowest of public employee benefits to assure they have nothing for retirement---then these states will be PREDATORS TO SENIORS IN RETIREMENT----do not be pushed out of a US city to move to what will be NO RETIREMENT PARADISE.
'Today, public school teachers remain one of the largest groups of uncovered workers. Nationwide, about 1.2 million teachers (40 percent of all public K-12 teachers) are not covered by Social Security. Those teachers are concentrated in 15 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas — and the District of Columbia, where many or all public school teachers lack coverage'.
Facts about teachers in Kentucky:
1. Teachers are neither allowed to contribute to nor receive one dime in social security benefits. This actually saves money for Kentucky who does not have to pay their half of teachers’ Social Security!
2. If they worked in another profession prior, even for 25 years, their social security benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled are drastically reduced. I did that and I get 30% of what I would get from Social Security because I taught in the state of Kentucky!
US citizens shouting out against our public employees receiving their pensions as too expensive need to understand these citizens have no Social Security coming to them -----this is a critical concern and it is a WOMEN'S RIGHTS issue since until recently teaching was heavily female.
1.2 million American teachers aren’t covered by Social Security
By Chad Aldeman Dec 18, 2014, 8:00am EST
Most of today's debates about Social Security are about taxes or changing how benefits are pegged to inflation by a few tenths of a percentage point. While those things are important, we've mostly ignored the fact that millions of Americans, including 1.2 million public school teachers, are completely denied access to the retirement and disability protections offered by Social Security. Even if they leave and begin employment that is covered by Social Security, they'll never get Social Security benefits for those years they didn't participate. Instead, they must rely more heavily on under-funded and poorly structured government pension plans and their own personal savings.
Today, nearly nine out of 10 Americans age 65 and older depend on Social Security benefits for a comfortable and secure retirement. Among middle- and lower-class Americans, Social Security makes up 43.5 to 83.2 percent of retiree income. Yet despite its importance and its salience as a political issue, most Americans don't realize that many workers do not participate in Social Security.
Beginning in the 1950s, state and local governments were given the choice to enroll their workers in Social Security. A minority of states opted not to, on the theory that their state pension plans alone could offer better benefits than a pension plus Social Security. Those states do offer slightly more generous pension formulas to make up for the fact that they don't offer Social Security. But those formulas offer the most significant benefits only to teachers who stay a full career in one place, which most do not. So state pension plans work ok for those teachers — the few who earn the most generous pensions — but they leave everyone else unprotected.
Today, public school teachers remain one of the largest groups of uncovered workers. Nationwide, about 1.2 million teachers (40 percent of all public K-12 teachers) are not covered by Social Security. Those teachers are concentrated in 15 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas — and the District of Columbia, where many or all public school teachers lack coverage.
In a new report for TeacherPensions.org (where I serve as editor), Leslie Kan and I discuss the history and politics of teachers and Social Security and then examine case studies of teachers at varying experience levels to estimate how much they could benefit from Social Security coverage. While Social Security coverage alone is not an adequate retirement savings plan or a substitute for other teacher retirement initiatives, universal coverage would benefit teachers, states, and the Social Security program itself. Here are 8 reasons why:
1) Current teacher retirement plans do not work for most teachers
Today's teacher pension plans are not working. Half of all new public school teachers won't teach long enough to qualify for even a minimal pension benefit, and less than one in five will remain long enough to earn a normal retirement benefit. Even for teachers who do qualify, the structure of the traditional system offers minimal benefits to those who stay for 10, 15, or even 20-plus years. The Urban Institute estimates that, in half of all plans covering public school teachers, teachers must wait at least 24 years (!) before their pension is finally worth more than their own contributions. In a field like teaching where turnover is high, only a small percentage of teachers will make it that long.
2) Social Security is the ultimate portable benefit
Traditional pensions, which presume that a teacher will stay in a single retirement system for an entire career, have not kept up with changes in the teaching workforce. Fitting with national trends, teachers frequently move within and across sectors. The most common number of years a teacher has served in the profession has dropped from 15 years in 1988 to five years today.
A teacher who moves to another state cannot easily transfer her service years from one state to another. Because states have enacted provisions penalizing teachers who try to withdraw or purchase additional "service credits," a 30-year veteran teacher who moves, even one time, can lose more than half her net pension wealth, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost retirement wealth.
States could improve their own retirement offerings to workers, but they'll never be able to match the national portability that Social Security provides.
3) Social Security would provide all teachers with a solid floor of retirement savings. Teachers of all ages would benefit
Retirement savings are often described as a three-legged stool: Social Security, employer retirement plans, and personal savings. The extent of employer-provided benefits will vary by job, and personal savings are a function of financial circumstances, investment returns, and planning foresight. For many American workers, Social Security is the most consistent portion of the three-legged model, providing a minimum threshold and solid plank of social insurance that is portable from job to job. Teachers lacking Social Security face substantial uncertainty and must rely more heavily on their state pension plans and personal savings.
We model the effects of universal Social Security coverage on young, middle, and full-career teachers in Chicago (see example below for what we called "Ms. Middle"). Teachers of all ages and experience levels would be net winners from participating in Social Security, even after subtracting out employee and employer contributions. The added security and savings for teachers participating in Social Security would be significant, especially for teachers who currently receive very little from their state pension plan. Most importantly, Social Security would extend retirement benefits to 100 percent of employees, rather than less than half covered under current state pension plans. The result would be greater retirement security for all teachers.
4) Social Security is progressive
Unlike state pension plans, which give the most generous benefits to the workers with the highest salaries and the longest work histories, Social Security benefits are progressive. Social Security awards lower-income workers with a greater proportion of benefits relative to their income than it does for higher-income workers. That progressivity would be especially beneficial given the modest salary levels that many teachers face across their working careers.
In order to preserve the intent behind Social Security's progressive formula, Congress created two provisions to apply to workers who split their careers between covered and uncovered positions. Because teachers and other workers with mixed coverage do not contribute for a full career, upon retirement they would appear to be lower-income than they really were. The two complicated, little-understood provisions-called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO)-are products of inconsistent Social Security coverage. They could be eliminated if all workers were covered by Social Security.
5) Social Security offers better protection against inflation
Social Security bases its benefit formula off a worker's 35 highest-paid years of contributions, and it indexes those earnings and contributions to current dollars. Teacher pensions work differently. They're typically based off a teacher's "final average salary" in the last three or five years of employment. The salaries are not inflation-adjusted, meaning teachers have a strong incentive to earn those highest salaries just before they retire. For an early- or mid-career teacher who qualifies for a pension but leaves for another job, her final salary will remain frozen in time. By the time she does retire, her pension will actually be worth far less, in real dollars.
Teacher pensions typically start receiving inflation adjustments upon retirement. But those are often ad-hoc cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that are dependent on market conditions and the whims of state legislators. Social Security benefits, on the other hand, automatically adjust for inflation and do not lose their purchasing power over time. This is a significant advantage for Social Security, given that many state and local pension plans cut their COLAs during recent budget crises.
6. Social Security is more than just a retirement program, it also offers superior disability and survivor benefits
Currently, workers moving in and out of Social Security face gaps in disability coverage. Social Security Disability Insurance pays monthly cash benefits to people who are disabled and can no longer work, but it requires workers to have at least five years of Social Security employment in the last 10 years. Teachers moving in and out of covered employment face gaps in coverage and may lose out on disability benefits. Additionally, Social Security provides more generous survivor benefits to dependents and spouses than state pension plans do.
7. Social Security would lessen the reliance on state pension plans
State pension plans in states without Social Security coverage are in worse financial shape than pension plans in other states, leaving uncovered teachers vulnerable to future benefit cuts or increases in their employee contributions. That's exactly what happened in response to the 2007-2009 recession: States cut retirement benefits for new hires by increasing the amount of time workers need to serve before qualifying for a pension, raising the normal retirement age, and reducing benefit formulas.
Extending Social Security coverage to all workers would reduce the reliance on state pension systems as the sole retirement savings benefit.
WE DO NOT SUPPORT THIS UNIVERSAL COVERAGE AS IT IS ANOTHER TERM FOR BASIC INCOME.
8) Universal coverage would reduce the long-term Social Security shortfall
The Social Security Administration projects that beginning in 2021 it will pay out more benefits than it will have incoming revenue. Its reserves will be depleted within the next 20 years if no reforms are made.
Extending coverage to all state and local workers would reduce the program's long-term deficit. Studies conducted by the Social Security Administration, the Government Accountability Office, and the 2010 Simpson-Bowles Commission all find that extending coverage to newly hired state and local workers (including teachers) would reduce the long-term shortfall by 8 to 10 percent. This policy change in itself would be sufficient to push off the shortfall for another two to three years.
Recent figures suggest that millions of Americans face a "retirement security" crisis whereby they'll have to work more years or survive on significantly lower incomes, a result of poor savings habits, stagnant wages, and an uneven economy. The failure of retirement saving in the private sector is a result of poor individual decisions and an absence of strong public policies supporting positive saving habits. Teachers, however, suffer from public policies that directly impair their retirement security. It's dreadful public policy to disadvantage the retirement security of 1.2 million public school teachers, a large and important group of college-educated, middle-class public servants.
First, we want to be clear---the 99% of WE THE PEOPLE learned something with LEFT SOCIAL PROGRESSIVE polices or what was sold as LEFT. Pension schemes were written by US FED and Wall Street so there was never good will tied to these worker benefit schemes. Please move away from these saving vehicles. We need to return to strong middle-class wages strengthening our personal saving habits leaving our retirement funds in our own hands.
Social Security on the other hand was a GOOD LEFT policy that was corrupted and robbed. Obama and Clinton neo-liberals set the stage for PRIVATIZED SOCIAL SECURITY which is a BAD POLICY ending up as pensions ---being WALL STREET FODDER.
We stress the importance of making sure today's seniors get what they were promised including the value they paid in payroll taxes because our young adults will be forced into these same programs and deductions ----if global banking 1% are fleecing them today---they will be fleecing them when our young adults are ready to retire.
THESE ARE VITAL SOCIAL PROGRAMS BEING THE STANDARD FOR OUR QUALITY OF LIFE----DO NOT ALLOW THESE ROBBER BARON 5% POLS AND PLAYERS STEAL THESE FUNDS.
Below we see the average pension monthly payments ---we see $39,000 ND $48,000 a year-----think how much Social Security brings annually-----about the same. These teacher pensions are NOT TOO HIGH.
No one hates public education more than far-right wing global banking 1% Clinton/Obama neo-liberals---more than Republicans.
Teacher Pensions Blog
What Is the “Average” Teacher Pension? An Example From California
February 3, 2014
Media sources often cite the average teacher pension, using it as a pivotal talking point for showing benefits as either overly generous or overly stingy. However, as Chad Aldeman discussed in a previous blog post, averages can be deceptive. The average often includes outliers on both extremes, creating a narrow picture of the pension distribution.
California is an example of where the numbers and language can get jumbled and requires a more discerning eye. Hotly discussed in the media, the California Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) represents the second largest public retirement system in the country and has a $70 billion unfunded liability. Media outlets have struggled to accurately define the size of teacher pension benefits. According to the California Teachers Association, the average monthly pension is $3,300, or $39,600 a year. However, reading CNN, the average teacher salary in California is $68,000 a year. Ask the Los Angeles Times and we get the average teacher retiring with $48,000. How did we get this variety of numbers?
To start, we should parse the language. The word “average”, or the statistical mean, mathematically denotes the sum total amount divided by the total number of observations. But often this word becomes conflated conceptually with what is actually the mode, or most frequent or most common occurrence. Furthermore, because of high or low outliers in pension benefits, there is often a wide disparity between the average and the mode. This is all a simple reminder in basic statistics, but these words easily get mixed together and subsequently skew the public’s perception of the actual distribution.
Let’s take a look at the numbers cited from CalSTRS’ 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. In 2012-13, 11,645 teachers entered into retirement. The statistical average, or mean, annual teacher pension in California in 2013 was roughly $47,000. This number takes the total sum payout in retirement benefits divided by the total number of retirees receiving a benefit.
However, this does not tell us how common or frequent this pension benefit was for retiring teachers. The number of service years for each of these teachers varies and, subsequently, so do their pensions. Where a retiring teacher who served for only 0-5 years receives a monthly pension of $311 (or $3,732 annually), a teacher who served forty or more years receives a monthly pension of $8,924 ($107,088 annually). This leaves us with a very wide scale where some teachers receive as little as $3,000 and others almost $110,000. The actual number of teachers who receive these amounts also differs greatly. Grouping teachers by set pension amounts (determined by the teacher’s service years), we can see the distribution of teachers and the pensions they receive:
Looking at the low and high ends of the pension spectrum, we see that there are indeed outliers with only 132 retirees receiving a $3000 pension and 271 retirees who received a $110,000 pension. The most frequently occurring pension amount was $68,400 with 2,150 retiring teachers, or 18 percent of all teachers who retired in 2013.
In other words, an “average” hides many nuances. Just because the average retiring teacher pension is a certain amount does not mean the typical retiring teacher actually receives this pension amount. Keep an astute eye and be cognizant of how colloquial meanings differ from the actual numbers.
*The Average Yearly Retirement Benefit represents the statistical average of what teachers who served a particular range of service years received. For example, teachers who served 0-5 years received an average yearly retirement benefit of $3,732. Teachers who served 5-10 years received an average yearly retirement benefit of $8,520. Teachers who served 10-15 years received an average yearly retirement benefit of $18,252. The Average Yearly Retirement Benefit is calculated according to a benefit multiplier times the teacher's service years times his or her final salary.
The answer to this question from what is a far-right wing global banking 1% BERKLEY and its 'labor center'----is NEITHER. MD and other Clinton neo-liberal states are pretending they are helping our TEACHERS by switching from pension to 401K. Both funds are used in the worst of Wall Street investments killing 99% of WE THE PEOPLE. Both are financial vehicles with goals of corruption with no intent to benefit workers. Far-right wing global banking pols simply used these policies to PRETEND they were helping labor.
PLEASE CASH OUT OF THESE FINANCIAL VEHICLES AND TAKE CONTROL OF OUR OWN SAVINGS.
So, after these few decades of ROBBER BARON frauds with all kinds of national headlines with stats showing widespread fraud and corruption in these pension plans we see this article selling all this to our next generation workers.
Teachers tied to NO SOCIAL SECURITY and only PENSIONS as in CA---will not care about SS TRUST but fight for global Wall Street stock market---so, CA 99% voting for Clinton neo-liberals to keep these retirement vehicles. Who supports RACE TO THE TOP? Are they supporting really bad policy to simply receive what is indeed a critical retirement benefit?
This is what has skewed what is taught in our public school classrooms. Public teachers were left social progressive in fighting for student needs and access to information. Today, sadly we see many state teachers supporting COMMONER CORE, TESTING, TRACKING, VOCATIONAL K-CAREER APPRENTICESHIPS while wanting to get those teachers' pensions.
WE CANNOT HAVE OUR US PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS COMPROMISED BY THESE BENEFIT SCAMS.
Fight for what our US workers have coming---but do not fight to keep these financial vehicles tied to retirement---we simply need strong wages. This is especially important for our global 99% of citizens whose nations' are installing these same pension scams as benefits.
Are California Teachers Better off with a Pension or a 401(k)?
Pensions form a significant part of public school teacher compensation, and provide the primary source of retirement security for teachers, many of whom are not included in Social Security. While most private sector employers have shifted the retirement benefit costs and risks to employees by switching to 401(k) style plans, most public school teachers are still covered by defined benefit pensions that provide guaranteed retirement income and reward long service. While 401(k) plans have the advantage of portability for a mobile workforce, defined benefit pensions provide greater retirement income security and reduce turnover. Given the role of retirement benefits in meeting both employer goals for workforce retention and employee goals for retirement income security, this study examines the suitability of defined benefit pensions for California teachers compared to alternative retirement benefits.
Recent studies have questioned the adequacy and fairness of defined benefit pensions—including the pension provided by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—based on the fact that a large percentage of new-hire teachers drop out early, and thus do not stay long enough to collect full pension benefits (Johnson and Southgate 2015; McGee and Winters 2013). These studies conclude that an account-based system would be fairer, whether that be a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k) or a cash balance plan. However, while early career turnover is a serious concern with respect to lost investment in training, analyses based primarily on new-hire attrition rates ignore the fact that most classroom teaching positions are not occupied by those who leave after a few years, but by those who stay long term.
This study compares CalSTRS pension benefits for California public school teachers to alternative retirement benefits, focusing on the currently active teaching workforce. We first analyze teacher turnover patterns and project the final tenure—years of service at retirement or separation—for the current teaching workforce using CalSTRS’ actuarial assumptions. We then model benefits under alternative plan designs—an idealized 401(k) plan and a generous cash balance plan that guarantees 7% interest on contributions—and compare them to the current CalSTRS pension for teachers hired since 2013. Finally, we analyze benefit outcomes for the three plans in the context of our tenure analysis findings in order to estimate the share of active teachers who are better off in the current defined benefit plan versus alternative retirement plans, and vice versa.
Overall, the CalSTRS pension benefit structure—which is designed to reward teachers who stay until at least early retirement age—is better matched to the needs of the active teaching workforce than 401(k) or cash balance plans. Although early career turnover is high, most of the teachers that a student will have during their K–12 education journey in California will have served 20 to 30 years or more before they leave public education in the state. Thus, the vast majority of the educators currently serving in California public schools can expect to collect pension benefits under CalSTRS that are superior in value and security to what they could receive under an ideal 401(k)-style plan. The CalSTRS pension system also offers significantly higher benefits compared to a generously modeled cash balance plan for a large majority of active teachers. Ultimately, switching to an account-based retirement system—such as a 401(k) or cash balance plan—would sharply reduce the retirement income security of teachers who account for a large majority of educational labor in California.
KEY FINDINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1.Most classroom teaching in California is performed by long-career teachers who are well-positioned to benefit from a traditional pension.
- The typical teacher in the classroom today can expect to leave at age 61, and half of teachers (49%) will retire with 30 or more years of service.
- Three-quarters of classroom teaching is performed by teachers who will have been covered by CalSTRS for at least 20 years by the time they depart.
- The typical new hire in California schools is significantly older than the 25-year-old illustrated in recent studies. The current median age for new hires is 29, and the mean is 33.
- The CalSTRS defined benefit pension becomes more valuable than an idealized 401(k) at age 51 for vested teachers hired before age 35, and earlier for those hired at older ages. The vast majority of active teachers (86%) in the state will stay in California schools until at least age 51.
- Our model assumes that everyone receives the reduced benefit formula implemented for new hires since 2012—2% of final average salary replaced at age 62. This is a conservative assumption because in reality, most current teachers fall under the older, more generous pension formula—2% at age 60.
- In addition, four out of five active teachers (79%) will stay until at least age 56, when the CalSTRS pension exceeds the value of a generously structured cash balance plan.
- Only 14% of active teachers will receive less benefit from the CalSTRS defined benefit plan than a hypothetical defined contribution plan. This includes 6% comprised by recent hires who will leave before vesting, i.e., with less than five years of service, and 8% comprised by teachers who will vest, but leave before age 51, when the defined benefit benefit starts to exceed the defined contribution benefit for younger hires.
- Another 7% will vest, but leave between ages 52 and 56, when the defined benefit pension becomes more valuable than a hypothetical cash balance plan with generous benefits. Thus only one out of five active teachers (21%) would accrue higher benefits under a generous cash balance plan compared to the CalSTRS pension.
- The biggest reason why the CalSTRS pension provides a lower benefit than the idealized defined contribution plan for the 8% of teachers who vest but leave before age 51 is that the final salary used to calculate benefits loses value over time if the separation date occurs before retirement age. Indexing the final average salary to inflation during this period would mitigate this loss, but require a slightly higher contribution rate.
- While 40% of new hires leave before vesting, these leavers represent just 6% of teaching positions. The vast majority of public school teaching in California is performed by educators who have remained, or will remain, beyond the initial highattrition years and are very likely to stay long term.
- While some active teachers who terminate prior to retirement eligibility may receive higher benefits under an idealized account-based retirement plan, this advantage is dwarfed by the larger benefits that the vast majority of active teachers will receive under the DB plan compared to alternative plans.
- From a public education policy perspective, it makes little sense to restructure retirement benefits to advantage those who leave, in a manner that dramatically reduces benefits for those who conduct the vast majority of teaching work.
- Account-based retirement plans reward those who leave early with proportionally greater retirement benefit than those who stay. For instance, contributions for a 25-year-old yields lifetime retirement income worth more than 3% of that year’s pay in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to less than 1% for someone on the cusp of retirement.
- 401(k) plans create stark, arbitrary inequalities between retirement cohorts because retirement income varies wildly with financial market conditions. Roughly half of teachers will either have income that exceeds the expected benefit by one-third or more, or have income that falls short by one-third or more.
- Given the lack of deferred compensation in defined contribution and cash balance plans, and the lower benefits compared to defined benefit pension for those who stay until retirement age, account-based retirement benefits would increase the incentive for early and mid-career teachers to leave, and also decrease the ability of older teachers to retire.
While AFT 5% player teachers' union leader WEINGARTEN ----a HILLARY NASTY LADY---- continues to push RACE TO THE TOP and COMMONER CORE our rank and file public school teachers and parents are still fighting them. What we see in global banking 1% states is Clinton/Obama neo-liberals holding our teachers captive in MOVING FORWARD these very, very, very bad education policy issues dangling those vitally needed teachers' pensions as STICKS.
Here in MD our politics are so captured by global 1% banking our public school teachers and parents of students are silenced these policy stances.
IF YOU WANT YOUR PENSION---SUPPORT RACE TO TOP
IF YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO HAVE ACCESS TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL THEN SUPPORT RACE TO TOP.
Below we see FORDHAM INSTITUTE------this is a far-right global banking BILL GATES privatization NGO----and look who is tied to this foundation and YALE------TEACHOUT.
TEACHOUT is sold as that BERNIE SANDERS social progressive working hard for our public schools when she is working hard for global banking 1% as is BERNIE SANDERS. Sanders has pushed and supports RACE TO TOP/COMMONER CORE and pension/401K benefit system
Zephyr Teachout | Fordham
www.fordham.edu/info/23186/zephyr_teachout Zephyr Teachout is an Associate Law Professor and has taught at Fordham Law School since 2009. She grew up in Vermont and received her BA from Yale in English and ...
US citizens must be able to make these connections so they are not cheerleading the farm team global banking 1% pols ----whether Clinton neo-liberals or morphing into far-right LIBERTARIAN MARXISM as Teachout and Sanders.
'Education officials also boasted that the state’s development of a $28 million Common Core-aligned curriculum was a success of the grant implementation. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has positively reviewed the series of lesson plans, which are freely offered online and have been downloaded millions of times, including from many people in other states'.
99% of US WE THE PEOPLE are still against RACE TO TOP COMMONER CORE and global banking 5% are moving it forward as hard as they can.
As Race To The Top ends, controversy continues
By JESSICA BAKEMAN
07/16/2015 05:45 AM EDT
ALBANY—Five years and $700 million later, New York’s implementation of the education reforms that were required under the Obama administration’s Race To The Top grant program remain controversial, with resistance from educators and parents as strong as ever.
None of the changes associated with New York’s 2010 award under the competitive grant program is new anymore. State lawmakers adopted a statewide teacher evaluation system in 2010 (and have subsequently strengthened it), education officials adopted the Common Core standards the same year, and the state began testing students on the more difficult material and using the exam results to rate teachers in 2013.
But teachers’ unions and parent groups continue to fight implementation of the reforms, as was evident in the so-called “opt out” movement, this year’s unprecedented statewide boycott of standardized tests.
Some—teachers’ unions, in particular, as well as lawmakers who are closely aligned with labor groups—say the public’s anger over the reforms is an indictment of Race To The Top. It was a failure, they argue.
But education officials who have been and are still fierce advocates of the changes argue the current public tumult is the result not of broad failure but a specific strategic mistake they made: inadequate communication.
Because they didn’t impress upon teachers and parents how drastic the changes were and how acutely they’d be felt, political opponents like the unions had an opening to begin a war against the reforms that continues even as the final dollars from New York’s sizeable grant award are spent.
“This was one that I take responsibility for," said Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, who led the powerful education policymaking panel throughout the application process and full implementation of Race To The Top. "We did not use any of the money to engage parents and let them know why we were moving to such a radical change. We did not use enough of the money to engage teachers early on to explain the rationale, and so this came at them fast and furious. … Therefore, other people were able to misinterpret the significance of what was going on, and it all came down to test scores.”
Ken Slentz, former deputy education commissioner, said the department realized too late its failure to communicate.
“When we came around to that, the proverbial well had already become so poisoned, we were already in a defensive position,” said Slentz, who left the department last year to lead a small Finger Lakes school district.
Michael Mulgrew, president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, the largest local teachers’ union in the state, supported the state’s application for Race To The Top but blames the board and state education department for what he calls a “horrendous” implementation.
“That’s where it all went bad,” he said.
In 2009, under former governor David Paterson, who took office amid a national economic crisis, the board and department applied unsuccessfully for Race To The Top funds. Before a second attempt, education officials convinced Paterson and lawmakers to change certain education laws that were acting as roadblocks; the establishment of a teacher evaluation system was among those changes.
Leaders described the state’s interest in the program as a financial calculation.
“In 2008, the state was broke. It was a financial crisis, and there was no money coming into the school system—none, not a penny. The state was cutting back,” Tisch said. “We had an opportunity to apply for federal funding under Race To The Top, and simultaneously, we had an opportunity to move a system that had been stagnant for a very long time forward.”
Mulgrew said the federal government took advantage of states’ devastating fiscal circumstances, and so New York and others applied out of “desperation.”
Explaining what he called the “political context” of the application process, Mulgrew said: “David Paterson comes in, and the economy is completely in the crapper. The federal government is coming around and saying, we are going to save you from laying off thousands of teachers. … It wasn’t so much the education policies at the time. Everyone was freaking out over the budget.”
Successful on the second application, the state won $700 million in 2010, half of which went to school districts. The board and department moved forward with the implementation.
In 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo took office and made strengthening the teacher evaluation system a top priority. The result was a system where educators’ ratings would be based 20 percent on students’ state exam scores and another 20 percent on their performance on local tests.
In 2013, when New York became the second state to begin testing students based on the Common Core standards, which are meant to boost college- and career-readiness, there was an intense public backlash.
The state rushed the implementation of the Common Core, school stakeholders argued. Some districts didn’t have textbooks or curriculum based on the new guidelines. As critics saw it, the state was forcing kids to take tests on material they hadn’t learned yet, and the vast majority of them were going to fail. By education officials’ own admission, only about 30 percent of third through eighth graders would be proficient on of the new math and reading exams, and they were right.
In fall 2013, Tisch and then-education commissioner John King embarked on a statewide tour of public forums, some of which they canceled and subsequently rescheduled in a different format after the meetings devolved into chaos, with teachers and parents who attended slinging personal attacks at the leaders.
As the public unrest intensified going into 2014, an election year, Cuomo and lawmakers increased pressure on education officials, adopting what they argued were legislative fixes to the board and department’s poor implementation. For example, leaders banned the use of standardized tests in early grades, limited the amount of time teachers could spend giving tests or delivering test preparation and prohibited students’ Common Core-aligned test scores from being used in promotion decisions.
This year, Cuomo, who is warring with the unions, pushed lawmakers to intervene further, again overhauling the evaluation system so it relies more heavily on test scores. They later also required the department to increase transparency around the exams.
Also, during the last two years, King left the department for a federal post, and lawmakers, who elect board members in a joint session, ousted three incumbent regents. They appointed several experienced educators who have been outspoken in their criticism of Common Core implementation.
The remaining funds from the grant program expire at the end of September.
Critics said Race To The Top was not what federal and state education officials promised it would be.
“The cake didn’t quite bake,” said Assembly education committee chair Cathy Nolan, a Queens Democrat. “We have not yet seen any real fruit, and it has not been implemented in the way that we thought it would be. I am a Democrat and support President Obama, but that’s been a great disappointment.”
New York State United Teachers spokesman Carl Korn called Race To The Top an “experiment that did little if anything to improve public education.
“When you look at the main components, students, parents and educators have spoken out loudly and clearly against the overreliance on standardized testing and the linkage between student test scores and teacher evaluations,” he said.
Further evidence of the grant program’s failure is legislation that has popped up in state legislatures throughout the country and on the federal level that seeks to undo some of what Race To The Top did, both Korn and Mulgrew argued.
State education officials, though, point to gains students have already made on the Common Core-aligned tests and national studies that found New York’s tests to reflect the highest proficiency standards in the country.
They also argued that the greatest successes of Race To The Top implementation are ones that went largely unnoticed by the public: a robust professional development program in which thousands of teachers participated and a incentive-based "career ladder" program that enabled educators in more than 200 districts to mentor their peers, improving retention for both the more experienced principals and teachers and the newer ones.
"So many people were focused on the evaluation system and the mechanical aspects," said assistant education commissioner Julia Rafal-Baer, who oversees the department's office of teacher and leader effectiveness and has been closely involved with Race To The Top implementation. The "career ladder" program "is really about using the evaluation system the way it was intended—making smart and strategic decisions within your district about what your educators need."
The board and department have asked the Legislature for funding to continue these programs, which will remain in only a limited capacity. So far, their request has not been granted.
“We learned about what can work and what is possible, but because the Legislature did not give us the money that we asked for, there is no way to expand that work across the state,” Rafal-Baer said.
Senate majority leader John Flanagan, former education committee chair, seems to be an advocate. He has argued recently that the department is underfunded and needs more state aid.
“I never viewed Race To The Top funding as a permanent stream, and I think a lot of the money was well spent,” he said during a recent interview. “There are things that aren’t always apparent. I went to a massive professional development workshop up here [in Albany] which was absolutely fantastic. … That was Race To The Top money. Is the public going to know about that per se? Not really.”
Officials and stakeholder groups said the expiration of funds to support these initiatives will be deeply felt.
Bob Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, was critical of some aspects of the grant program but said the state-sponsored professional development will be missed.
"Early on, in the beginning years, we heard terrible reviews, and they, over time, got better and better," Lowry said of the Albany training sessions, a program that was called the Network Training Institute. "Now people are thinking, what will we have to replace that? How might we replicate it on a regional level? ... The loss of funding for professional development—that hurts."
Education officials also boasted that the state’s development of a $28 million Common Core-aligned curriculum was a success of the grant implementation. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has positively reviewed the series of lesson plans, which are freely offered online and have been downloaded millions of times, including from many people in other states.
The curriculum had its critics, though, who complained that it was not yet finished before students started taking tests. Some argued that superintendents and principals were instructing teachers to use the curriculum like a script in hopes that strategy might help students achieve higher scores on the tests.
Slentz, the former deputy commissioner, echoed his colleagues’ arguments that the curriculum was meant to be an optional resource for districts. He doesn’t buy critics’ claims, he said.
“All of a sudden there was this implied intentionality that it had to be implemented script-like, all creativity gone,” he said. “That was a reactive comment; that was not an intellectual comment. … That was truly problematic for me, and in my role as chief liaison to the field to try to get that message out there, we really lost our ability to have a genuine conversation with people.”
Some critics said they’re heartened by the change of leadership in the department and the new members on the board. Commissioner MaryEllen Elia took office earlier this month, and the 17-member board has five new members, three of whom were superintendents.
“The fact that we have pushed to put people with more educational experience on the regents has made a difference, because they’re going to be the people that will help us get to better standards and higher standards without the kind of crippling backlash that we’ve seen from parents and teachers,” Nolan said.
Tisch, who has also expressed hopefulness that Elia’s arrival will foster unity rather than further fuel discord, said she isn’t surprised that the controversy hasn’t yet died down.
“The politics have become enraged between the governor and the teachers’ union, and that makes it more complicated still,” she said. “But even without a lot of the extra rhetoric, a large change in a large system is still very complicated.”
We wanted to open this week's discussion on EDUCATION PUBLIC POLICY because it is vital our public school teachers feel free from all political pressures whether financial tied to pensions or whether curricula global monopolies-------to inject in our classrooms the same broad citizenship education. These few decades have had our teachers so POLITICIZED our public education content is being made PROPAGANDA.
Below we see NY teacher pensions are NOT doing well----they have been used as FODDER just as all pension plans as this teacher union rep shouts they are performing well. What today's teacher union rep is fighting to save are pension payments that are too high. No doubt these high pension payouts drained existing funds for future.
'The study pegs the funded ratio of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) at a combined 48 percent — meaning the “actuarial value of assets” in the two systems is slightly less than half of what would be required to back up current pension promises with a truly risk-free financial guarantee'.
The teachers' union rep is RIGHT in shouting NO TO OPENING NYS CONSTITUTION.
'Bottom line - the NYS pension system is not broken; therefore, it does not need fixing.....VOTE NO on November 7th to opening the NYS Constitution'!
Our point for today is this: NY has been these few decades ground zero for K-12 CORPORATE CHARTERS leading the way to national privatization of our public schools. Have we heard NY teachers' union fighting against these Wall Street stock marketed schools bad for our 99% of students and parents as they receive very strong pension payments?
US CITIZENS CANNOT ALLOW OUR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ESPECIALLY OUR TEACHERS BE PULLED IN THESE ARTIFICIALLY CREATED FIGHTS---
NY school pensions averaged $67,500 last year for career employees
By Bethany Bump on February 18, 2016 at 9:56 AM
Teachers and other employees who retired last year after working at least 30 years in New York public schools took home an average pension of $67,476, according to new data from the Empire Center.
Political Corner: Your Pension is Under Attack
Friday, October 13, 2017Federation of Teachers FTA
A Message from Political Action Coordinator Michael Cipriano
Did you know that Article 5, Section 7, of the NYS Constitution states, "Membership in any pension or retirement system of the state shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired"?
Since 1940, NYS public employees have been able to rest easy knowing that working hard throughout their career will allow them to live a secure and comfortable life in retirement. If the NYS Constitution is opened, there is the possibility of retirement insecurity for public employees. Politicians want you to believe that the pension system is destroying the NYS economy, while the reality is, a NYS pension only makes our economy stronger.
Here are some facts for you to consider about our strong pensions system:
- For the past 20 years, NYS taxpayers contributed an average of 11 cents on the dollar to the pension system. NYS employees contributed 3 percent, while 86 percent of the pension fund growth comes from investment earnings. Earnings on investments - NOT taxpayer based contributions have historically made up the bulk of pension fund earnings!
- The NYS Teachers Retirement System boasts a funded ratio of nearly 100% and is considered one of the strongest funds in the country, if not the world.
- Pensions provide jobs and predictability in the economy. In 2014, expenditures from state and local pensions supported:
- 215,867 jobs that paid 12.5 billion dollars in wages and salaries.
- 35.3 billion dollars in total economic output.
- 8.1 billion dollars in tax revenue.
Bottom line - the NYS pension system is not broken; therefore, it does not need fixing.....VOTE NO on November 7th to opening the NYS Constitution!
As with all our US public sector unions------our public sector unions are recruiting private corporate teachers to public union ranks-----this has a goal of ending the status of public union and our 5% labor union leaders know this. So, are they fighting for their pensions in compromising our status of PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher?
Here we see MICHIGAN------Baltimore does the same-----where our public teachers union is taking on private TEACH FOR AMERICA to the point PRIVATE TEACH FOR AMERICA has more representatives in these public unions----this is union-busting. We see those freemason hand signs flashing in all this! Freemasons work for global banking 1% ----against 99% of WE THE PEOPLE. So, we lose our broad, citizenship, free from propaganda EDUCATION when these pension concessions make corporate schools.
Again, not against US citizens choosing to be TEACH FOR AMERICA----OBAMA tied forgiving student loans to installing these private teaching structures. Private TEACH FOR AMERICA should be a private union----just as AFT AND AFSCME should NOT be under the umbrella of AFL-CIO.
“This ruling drew a line in the sand that will strengthen all teachers—in charter and public schools alike—as they continue to advocate for their students and for high-quality education.”
All of these policies are a deliberate MOVING FORWARD to ending US public K-university and we do not want our long-term public school teachers feeling a STICK in MOVING FORWARD.
These corporatization of education policies like TEACH FOR AMERICA in our PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher unions -----growing majorities of private school over our public school teachers will end with NO TEACHER PENSIONS and bad education policy.
Public school teachers are ground zero for REAL INFORMATION not corporate propaganda-----
‘Teach for America’ Teachers Can Join the Union
August 07, 2015 / Patrick Sheehan
In a good sign for teacher union drives around the country, a Labor Board hearing officer opted to include Teach for America teachers in the union vote at a Detroit charter school chain. Charter teachers in other cities sent messages of solidarity. Photo: Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (AFT).
A National Labor Relations Board hearing officer has ruled that Teach for America teachers should be included in the union at a Detroit charter school chain.
Teachers at University Prep charter schools voted May 14 on whether to unionize. UPrep relies on TFA teachers to fill about 10 percent of its classrooms, a figure that’s similar to urban charter schools in other cities.
But when some TFA teachers emerged as leaders in the union drive, Detroit 90/90, the company that manages UPrep, challenged their right to vote.
In a June hearing, the company argued that TFA teachers’ minimum two-year commitment to the school made us “temporary service workers” rather than “professional employees”—more like long-term substitutes than permanent teachers.
“It was such an obvious attempt to divide and conquer,” said Alex Moore, a Teach for America teacher and unabashed union supporter. “[The company] loved us when we were cheap, docile workers, but when we spoke up and organized, they wanted to sweep us under the rug.”
The hearing officer found on July 31 that TFA teachers are indeed professional employees—and thus have the right to be part of the teachers’ bargaining unit.
The ruling noted that TFA teachers share the same job responsibilities, evaluations, and contracts as other teachers in the district. Our minimum two-year commitment is irrelevant, given that the employer offers only one-year commitments to all its teachers.
The decision doesn’t formally set a legal precedent for other schools. Still, it’s a good sign for union drives across the country. Charter teachers are organizing in such cities as Philadelphia and Los Angeles—often in schools with sizable TFA contingents.
UPrep is the largest charter school district in Michigan. It consists of seven schools, 200 teachers, and more than 3,000 students. Teachers there began organizing in spring 2014.
Charter schools, which have grown rapidly in Detroit, are publicly funded, privately managed, and largely non-union.
Like charter school teachers across the country, UPrep teachers work under at-will contracts—meaning they can be fired at any time, without explanation—that are renewed every year. So they don’t know until June whether or not they’ll have a job in August.
This perpetual uncertainty, along with stolen wages and a lack of support from administrators, led teachers to reach out to American Federation of Teachers (AFT) organizers in Michigan.
“It’s hard to imagine a career for yourself in a school district when you could be fired at any time at the whim of an administrator,” said Jasmine Singleton, who taught first grade at UPrep during the campaign. “We need some stability in our work as educators, so we can focus on the children.”
UPREP FIGHT CONTINUES
Unfortunately, the union lost the election at UPrep by a few votes. Since long-term substitute teachers’ ballots were found ineligible, the TFA ballots wouldn’t have been enough to sway the outcome of this election, so they weren’t counted.
However, the NLRB is still considering a litany of unfair labor practice charges filed against Detroit 90/90 that could invalidate the election and result in a new one being scheduled.
The company ran an aggressive and well-funded anti-union campaign, beginning even before the teachers filed for election. It hired union-busting consultants, held captive-audience meetings, intimidated teachers, and ultimately threatened that if teachers voted to unionize, it wouldn’t renew its management contract—which would force UPrep schools either to find a new management company or to shutter.
(The threat is credible. In April, another Michigan charter management company announced it would stop managing University Yes Academy after teachers filed for a union election. Nonetheless, on May 6, teachers there voted 27-18 to join the AFT.)
In one of the seven UPrep school buildings, on Election Day, an administrator disabled the entrance key-cards for all teachers to prevent them from voting.
After the election, the company retaliated by giving poor evaluations to campaign leaders. Some did not have their contracts renewed to teach next year.
“The attempt to strip TFA teachers of their voice was just another attack in a longstanding corporate effort to break down teachers’ collective bargaining rights,” said Nate Walker, a K-12 policy analyst and organizer with the Michigan AFT, working on the UPrep campaign.
“This ruling drew a line in the sand that will strengthen all teachers—in charter and public schools alike—as they continue to advocate for their students and for high-quality education.”
AND HERE WE GO ----as Social Security is deregulated in its dismantling----some people getting those funds, some forced to reduced funds because of other retirement vehicles they have, and some losing SS payments altogether-----don't think that MOVING FORWARD goals are 99% of WE THE PEOPLE losing BOTH pensions and Social Security.
Maryland DEREGULATED Medicare these few decades creating widespread disparities for 99% Maryland citizens as compared to citizens in other states----that DEREGULATION is now hitting Social Security tied to pensions.
Will My Pension Cut My Social Security Payments?
-- The ...
This article was updated on Dec. 20, 2017. For many Americans, Social Security is the only source of regular monthly income to help them supplement their retirement ..
Our public sector teachers are the current focus of attack by global banking 1% ----please support our teachers in what is being made a CARROT/STICK game---but move away from these global Wall Street financial vehicles!
Expecting a public pension?
Don’t hold your breath for Social Security too
Nation Oct 27, 2014 8:58 PM EST
Lynda — Tustin, Calif: I have a government pension, and am currently working outside of a government agency. I qualify for Social Security and also qualify as an ex-spouse for my ex-husband’s Social Security benefits.
I have been told that my Social Security will be reduced by two-thirds from the Windfall Elimination Tax. Is that correct? Also, if I choose to take my ex-husband’s Social Security, will that also be reduced by two-thirds due to my pension?
He is 66 and collecting. I am 62 and not sure if I should wait until I’m 66 or begin now, and whose benefits should I collect when and whose would be more. Social Security has not been overly helpful in the calculations. I need to maximize my Social Security benefits. Is it possible to collect my spousal benefit and my own?
Larry Kotlikoff: Your divorced spousal and divorced widow benefits (once your ex dies) will be reduced by two-thirds of your non-covered pension, which may mean you end up losing all of these benefits. That’s because of the Government Pension Offset provision. The Windfall Elimination Provision is a different way in which Social Security goes after you for allegedly trying to double dip. It reduces your own retirement benefit by using a less generous formula to calculate the full retirement benefit, or Primary Insurance Amount, for folks with non-covered pensions.
You can lose Social Security benefits that total, at the maximum, half of your non-covered pension. You do need to figure this out, and there is very careful and inexpensive software on the market that can help you figure out what strategy will maximize your lifetime benefits.
The GPO and WEP don’t kick in until you start collecting your non-covered pension. So if your non-covered pension will be significantly larger if you hold off collecting, do so and then consider filing right away for your own retirement if the software says to do this.
Be aware that if you take your retirement benefit early (before full retirement age), you’ll be deemed to also be applying for your excess divorced spousal benefit, which would give you, essentially, the larger of either your own retirement benefit or your divorced spousal benefit. In other words, you can’t get both benefits.
The only way to collect both benefits by themselves, at least for awhile, is to wait until full retirement age to take just your spousal benefit and then take your own retirement benefit at 70, inclusive of the credits, called delayed retirement credits, that you’ll receive for postponing the collection of your retirement benefit. So, yes, the government has made your decision immensely complex. But again, the right answer is quick and easy to get with the right software.
Note that there are exemptions to the WEP based on the number of years worked.
Question: I am a retired teacher in Arizona. Federal taxes are taken out of my pension payment, but they are not reported to Social Security account. Why is this? I thought the taxes would be used to increase my contributions for my account. I will not be getting Social Security for at least six years.
Larry Kotlikoff: Your earnings record, which determines your Social Security benefit, is based on FICA contributions you make on your labor earnings. None of the money you earn in interest, withdraw from your 401(k) or receive in a pension is subject to FICA taxation, so none of it counts for determining your Social Security benefits.
Was your teaching job covered by Social Security?My concern with your situation, though, is whether this pension you are now collecting is coming from non-covered employment. In other words, was your teaching job covered by Social Security? If not, your Social Security retirement benefit will be zapped by the Windfall Elimination Provision and any benefits you might be able to collect based on the work record of a current or former spouse, who is deceased or from whom you divorced after 10 years of marriage, will be zapped by the Government Offset Provision. Sorry about this bad and scary news. But I don’t want you operating under false pretenses about what you will receive.
Debra: The husband, who is 63 and not employed, just filed for Social Security in order to purchase a downsized home. The wife is 62 and took a buyout in 2013. They have a $546,000 hedged annuity, and $329,000 in a rollover IRA. The husband’s Social Security is $1,874 per month, with expenses of $2,500 per month. Should the wife file for Social Security benefits or should they fill their income gap with withdrawals from the annuity and IRA? How long should the wife wait to file for Social Security?
Larry Kotlikoff: They should, if possible, try to maximize their lifetime Social Security benefits. So I would urge the husband to withdraw his retirement benefit by repaying everything he’s received so far.
The strategy for maximizing their lifetime benefits may entail the wife applying for her retirement benefit at 65 in order to let her husband file just for a spousal benefit at full retirement age (66), the wife suspending her retirement benefit at full retirement age and then starting it up again at 70, and having the husband collect his retirement benefit at 70.
The alternative is for the husband to file for his retirement benefit and suspend its collection when his wife reaches full retirement age, then restart his retirement benefit at 70, while she files just for a spousal benefit at her full retirement age and starts her own retirement benefit at 70.
Which scenario is best depends on their earnings records and their maximum ages of life. But, in general, I would have them spend their non-Social Security resources to get over the hump and wait to collect much higher Social Security benefits, albeit at a later date.
Tim — New Albany, Ind. I am 62 years old, and am eligible for full retirement at age 67. My wife is 57. I currently work full time making around $45,000 per year. I have no investments or retirement accounts of any great worth. My wife currently receives a small disability check. My plan for my Social Security is to file and suspend at age 67 hoping my wife can file for half my benefit at 62. Is this possible? Does it sound like the plan I should use? Social Security is going to be our only income source.
Larry Kotlikoff: If you file at 67, your wife will be able to collect a reduced excess spousal benefit equal to the difference between half of your full retirement benefit and her current disability benefit. If she waits until her full retirement age, there will be no reduction factor applied to her spousal benefit for taking it early.
So to maximize your lifetime benefits, it appears that you may want to wait until 70 to take your own retirement benefit and have your wife wait until full retirement age to take her largest possible spousal benefit.
A slight variation on this strategy, which could produce a few more bucks for her after age 70, is for her to withdraw (I’m saying withdraw as opposed to suspend!) her retirement benefit at full retirement age to keep her Social Security disability benefit from automatically converting to her retirement benefit. At 70, she would take her retirement benefit, which will equal 1.32 times her current disability benefit, after inflation. At 70 she would then collect the larger of either half of your full retirement benefit or 1.32 times her current disability benefit.
My other advice is to keep working as long as possible. And try to save by paying off any mortgage or other debts you have.
Yuri — Los Angeles: My question is unusual. I tried to get help in the Social Security office, but got none. I immigrated to the U.S. in 1989 and am still working for the same employer. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, I received Social Security estimates with the same dollar amount. As far as I know, 35 years will be counted in a calculation, but I do not have 35 years on my record (only 25 years). Every year I worked the quantity of “0” has to be replaced by my earnings and contribution to the Social Security system. My full retirement age is 66 years, which was in 2012.
I am still working and not receiving my Social Security benefit (I delayed it). Please explain to me how to resolve this problem with the Social Security office. I feel it is not correct to receive the same benefit estimate for three years in a row.
Larry Kotlikoff: This does sound strange. I would try to meet with a Social Security Technical Expert in the local Social Security office and have him or her show you your earnings statement and make sure it includes your past three years of covered employment.
Susan — Cottonwood, Ariz.: I am a divorced 65-year-old who, after 40 years of marriage, had to start collecting Social Security benefits at almost 63 because of the Arizona economy. I receive $710 on my earning and $80 from my former husband’s Social Security. He is 67 and started collecting at 64 or 65 (again, because of the economy)
The way I read the Social Security regulations, I should receive 33 percent of his benefit. I don’t know what he is making, but I am fairly sure it is more than $240. He made over $70,000 for the last five years of his working life. I have had my local Social Security office investigate it twice and they claim it is correct. I would appreciate any help you can shine my way.
Larry Kotlikoff: Your divorced spousal benefit should equal A times B, where A is the difference between half of your ex’s full retirement benefit and 100 percent of your full retirement benefit, and B is the reduction factor arising from taking your divorced spousal benefit three years before full retirement age. Exactly when you started collecting will determine the size of B. Do this calculation, and if you aren’t in the right ballpark, ask Social Security to explain to you in detail why your reduced excess spousal benefit is only $80.