Teacher Pensions Blog

  • After lagging behind for much of the decade, average teacher salaries finished with strong gains in the 2019-2020 school year. Based on the new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teacher salaries rose by 3.2 percent from March 2019 to March 2020, well above the 1.5 percent increase in the consumer price index. 

    In fact, teacher salaries rose over the entire decade. From 2010 to 2020, average teacher salaries rose by 19.3 percent, slightly above the rate of inflation. 

    But before celebrating too much, teachers may be miffed to find out that their total compensation increased even more, by 28.5 percent over the same time period. In real terms, teachers got a tiny bit more in their pockets even as employers were paying significantly more money to employ them. 

    What's driving this disconnect? Benefits costs. Health care and pension payments rose much faster than teacher salaries did and, as a result, benefits are eating up a growing share of teacher compensation. Teacher health care costs rose by 27.6 percent over the course of the decade, well above the rates for wages or inflation, but the real culprit was teacher pensions. Over the last decade, teacher retirement costs soared by 126.4 percent. 

    Back in 2016, I dubbed this trend the "Pension Pac-Man" and warned that teachers already had higher retirement costs than any other employee group in the American economy. The trend has only continued since then. While the average civilian employee receives $1.97 in retirement benefits per hour of work, public school districts pay retirement costs of $9.35 per hour. Even if you look at it as a percentage of their total compensation package, teacher retirement benefits eat up two and a half times as much as other workers (13.6 versus 5.2 percent). In terms of retirement costs, teachers are even starting to pull away from other state and local government employees. 

    Not only are retirement costs for teachers high compared to other professions, they're also high compared to historical trends. Going back to 1994, teacher retirement costs have never been higher, in either dollar or percentage terms. At the end of 1990s, as pension fund assets ballooned in tandem with rising stock prices, teacher retirement costs per hour briefly dipped as a share of teachers’ total compensation package. But beginning in the ealry 2000s, pension funds needed an infusion of new money. That trend has continued to accelerate in recent years as pension costs continue to eat up a higher and higher share of teacher compensation. 

    Unfortunately for teachers, the rising costs of their retirement systems do not reflect improved benefits. Today, the costs of paying down unfunded liabilities, not benefits for active teachers, make up the biggest proportion of employer retirement costs. 

    Going forward, it's possible that salaries could continue to rise thanks to recently negotiated teacher contracts. Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, some leaders have made good on their promises to find money for teachers salaries. But the Pension Pac-Man continues to eat. And without a change change, retirement costs will continue to eat further and further into school district budgets. 

  • With school districts across the country laying off thousands of teachers and other employees, it might be hard to focus on something as long-term as retirement benefits. But layoffs are particularly harmful to workers covered by teacher pension plans. 

    Let's use Massachusetts as an example. As Daarel Burnette II and Madeline Will reported in a recent story for Education Week, "the Massachusetts Teachers Association estimates that more than 2,000 teachers and education support professionals in that state have been laid off in about 50 districts." 

    Although the stories don't all specify whether the laid-off workers were unionized teachers or other types of workers, it's likely that most of the laid-off employees were enrolled in a traditional defined benefit pension plan run by the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System (MTRS). MTRS has two tiers of benefits depending on the employee's hire date, and workers hired since 2012 are in Tier 2. Since Tier 2 workers must serve for at least 10 years before qualifying for a pension, the reality is that no Tier 2 member has qualified for a pension yet. They are eligible for 3 percent interest on their own contributions, but they are not eligible for employer-provided retirement benefit. 

    Worse, Massachusetts teachers are not enrolled in Social Security, so they may be leaving their service with very meager retirement benefits.  

    Even for teachers who are vested in MTRS, the benefit formulas are so back-loaded that employees would need to stay for 25 years or more to qualify for a positive benefit. To see this visually, check out the graph below from the Urban Institute's State and Local Employee Pension Plan database. It shows how retirement benefits accumulate under Tier 2 for hypothetical teachers who begin their Massachusetts teaching career at age 25. The blue line tracks their total benefits earned, and the red line shows the benefits earned net of the employee's own contributions. I've added an arrow where the net benefit turns positive, around age 50. 

    As the graph shows, Tier 2 members won't qualify for a pension worth more than their own contributions until they have served for at least 25 consecutive years. Many of the laid-off Massachusetts school employees are likely to fall short of this mark. In other words, it's likely the case that Massachusetts school districts are laying off workers with no positive retirement benefit, and no Social Security to show for their years of service. 

    Massachusetts is somewhat of an extreme example, but most states require teachers, especially newer teachers, to serve for 20 or 25 years before qualifying for a pension benefit worth more than their own contributions. 

  • Although the decision about when to retire is a personal one involving many factors, in most states there is a very clear window during which you can maximize your retirement wealth. As explained below, you can receive the most total money in pension benefits by following two rules: stay in the same pension plan for as many years as possible, and then retire at your state’s normal retirement age.

    In the 401(k)-style plans common in the private sector, your pension wealth is tied directly to your contributions, the contributions of your employer, and the investment returns earned by these contributions. In most states, however, public school teachers receive a Defined Benefit (DB) retirement plan. In these plans, pension wealth is instead tied to a formula that calculates a monthly defined benefit based on years of service in that retirement system and final average salary (usually calculated as your average salary over the three to five highest-earning years of your career in the system). These two numbers are then multiplied together, and a small percentage of that factor — usually around 2% — becomes your monthly defined benefit.

    These pension rules offer some clear guidelines about how to maximize your pension wealth. First, you should work as long as you can in one system. Because your defined benefit is calculated based on years of service in a system, switching systems will most likely leave you with two small benefits that, when combined, are less than the one large benefit you would have gotten if you had remained in one plan for your entire career.

    In addition, you should think twice about retiring earlier than the normal retirement age. In California, for example, the normal retirement age is 62, meaning that a teacher who retires at that age receives a benefit based on the 2% formula multiplier. However, if you retire at the age of 55 — the earliest possible retirement age — the state will instead use a multiplier of 1.16% to calculate your pension benefit.

    Financially, it also makes sense to avoid retiring much later than the normal retirement age. You get your pension benefit in the form of yearly payments rather than as a lump sum of cash. This means that as you age, even if you receive a higher amount of money per year, you will have fewer years of life to receive these payments.

    For example, imagine that you can either retire now and earn an annual retirement benefit of $50,000, or retire in five years and receive a retirement benefit of $60,000. By waiting five years to retire, you would lose more than $250,000 in pension wealth, then earn an additional $10,000 every year after that (not including inflation). This means that you would have to live 25 years past that later retirement date in order to receive the same amount of money as you would have if you had retired at your state’s normal retirement age. Therefore, you should keep in mind your health at your time of retirement and decide whether the slightly higher pension payments are worth the loss of years of  annual payments. (This advice is merely about maximizing one’s pension wealth and does not consider a teacher’s desire to continue teaching.)

    All of these factors combined create a structure in which pension wealth remains low throughout most of a teacher’s career, spikes at the state’s normal retirement age, then slowly declines from there. So an ideal window to retire begins at your state’s normal retirement age and continues for a few years after that. A typical plan provides a trajectory of pension wealth that looks something like the graph below:

    With an understanding of this pension structure in mind, you should be able to make an informed decision about what retirement age is best for you and your family. For more information about your state’s pension plan, check out our state teacher pension plans page here, or look at your state pension plan’s member guide that can be found at your plan’s website. And for more information about how to calculate a teacher pension, read our explainer post here.

  • A teacher with split Social Security coverage emails us with a question about how to maximize her retirement:

    Here is a little background on my question. I entered teaching later in life than is typical. I worked in the corporate world for over 10 years before pivoting to teaching.  Thus, I already had the 40 quarters required for Social Security. I understand that my 10+ years of teaching service do not count towards Social Security, but I don't understand how I can have her 40 quarters taken away by entering teaching. It's almost beginning to feel like it may be in my best retirement interest to go back to the corporate world.

    Can you point me in a direction that would give me some sort of clarity?

    Thank you,

    --Career Switcher

    Hi Career Switcher,

    I have two pieces of good news for you. The first is that you will not have all of your Social Security benefit taken away. Given your 40 quarters of contributing toward Social Security, you are entitled to a benefit when you reach the retirement age. 

    The second piece of good news is that you may be better off than your colleagues in terms of pension benefits. Because you are closer to reaching your state's retirement age, your pension is more valuable than your younger colleagues with the same amount of experience. See here for a longer explanation. 

    But now for the bad news. Yes, your Social Security benefit may be reduced under what's known as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The exact answer to your question depends on how long you taught without Social Security coverage, how much money you earned (and thus contributed to Social Security) while there, and the comparison between the value of your pension and your Social Security benefit. For more detail about how the WEP works, see this two-pager from the Social Security Administration with an explanation and the methodology behind the calculation. Although it changes slightly every year, the maximum WEP penalty in 2020 is $480 a month in retirement. 

    However, the WEP cannot reduce the value of your Social Security by more than half of your pension amount. That provision means that the WEP does not apply to anyone with only a small pension. 

    To your ultimate question, it's hard to know whether you would be better off going back into the corporate world for a few years. That would depend on the salary in either job, how many years you have until retirement, and how many years you plans to continue working.

    You should consult a qualified financial advisor to run the numbers, but from a purely retirement wealth perspective, it's possible you may earn more with the combination of Social Security (even with a WEP penalty) plus a teacher pension benefit rather than trying to maximize your Social Security benefits. 

    This may be a longer answer than you were looking for, but hopefully it's helpful, and all the best, 

    ~Chad Aldeman

    Note: This is a real question submitted to us. We have removed all personally identifiable information, but we believe there's a value in sharing frequently asked questions to benefit others with similar concerns. If you have a question you would like answers to, please feel free to email us at teacherpensions@bellwethereducation.org. Please note that by submitting a question to us, you agree to let us share the question and our answer publicly here on the TeacherPensions.org blog. 

  • At what age can teachers retire?

    The answer to that question depends on the state, the date the teacher began their employment, their age, and their years of service.

    The table below is intended as a helpful tool for teachers to understand the rules that might affect them. For each state pension plan, the table provides the normal and early retirement ages applicable to teachers based on their hire date and relevant benefit tier.

    Nearly every state has multiple tiers with different benefit rules that depend on the teacher’s start date. For each tier, the plan’s “normal” retirement age reflects the point at which the teacher can retire and begin collecting his or her full benefit. Retirement ages are generally expressed as a combination of age and years of service. For example, Alabama allows its Tier I employees to retiree with full benefits at age 60 once they have 10 years of service, or any age once they attain 25 years of service. In the table, these are marked as “60/10” and “Any/25,” respectively.  

    Many states also offer teachers the option to retire early with a reduced benefit. For example, Arizona allows teachers to claim a reduced pension benefit beginning at age 50 for those employees with five or more years of service. The farther away the worker is from the plan's normal retirement age, the larger the reduction they face. Those reductions are permanently locked in once the employee begins collecting their benefit. 

    See the table below for the normal and early retirement ages in your state. For more information, check out our state pages, or contact your state's pension plan. 

    State

    Plan Name

    Tier

    Normal Retirement Eligibility: (Age/Years of Service)

    Early Retirement Eligibility: (Age/Years of Service)

    Alabama

    Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) - Tier 1

    Hired before January 1, 2013

    60/10; Any/25

    Alabama

    Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) - Tier 2

    Hired on or after January 1, 2013

    62/10

     

    Alaska

    Alaska Teachers Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 1990 and before July 1, 2006

    60/8; Any/20

    55/8

    Alaska

    Alaska Teachers Retirement System

    Hired after July 1, 2006

    N/A

    N/A

    Arizona

    Arizona State Retirement System

    Hired before Jan. 1, 1984

    60/10; 65/1; Age + YOS = 80;

    50/5

    Arizona

    Arizona State Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 1984 and before July 1, 2011

    62/10; 65/1; Age + YOS = 80

    50/5

    Arizona

    Arizona State Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011

    65/1; 62/10; 60/25; 55/30

    50/5

    Arkansas

    Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

     

    60/5; Any/28

    Any/25

    California

    California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)

    Hired before January 1, 2012

    60/5

    50/30; 55/5

    California

    California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)

    Hired on or after January 1, 2013

    62/5

    55/5

    Colorado

    Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA)

    Hired before July 1, 2005; vested on January 1, 2011

    50/30; 55 and AGE + YOS = 80; 65/5

    50/25; 55/20; 60/5

    Colorado

    Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA)

    Hired after June 30, 2005 and before January 1, 2007; vested on January 1, 2011

    Any/35; 55 and AGE + YOS = 80; 65/5

    50/25; 55/20; 60/5

    Colorado

    Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA)

    Hired after December 31, 2006 and before January 1, 2011

    Any/35; 55 and AGE + YOS = 85; 65/5

    50/25; 55/20; 60/5

    Colorado

    Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA)

    Hired after December 31, 2010

    Any/35; 58 and AGE + YOS = 88; 65/5

    50/25; 55/20; 60/5

    Connecticut

    Teachers' Retirement Board

    All

    60/20; Any/35

    60/10; 55/20; Any/25

    Delaware

    Delaware State Employees' Pension Plan

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 1997 and before Jan. 1, 2012

    62/5; 60/15; Any/30

    55/15; Any/25

    Delaware

    Delaware State Employees' Pension Plan

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2012

    65/10; 60/20; Any/30

    55/15; Any/25

    District of Columbia

    District of Columbia Teachers' Retirement Plan

    Hired before Nov. 1, 1996

    62/5; 60/20; 55/30

    District of Columbia

    District of Columbia Teachers' Retirement Plan

    Hired on or after Nov. 1, 1996

    62/5; 60/20; Any/30

    Florida

    Florida Retirement System Pension Plan: Regular Class

    Hired before July 1, 2011

    62/6; Any/30

    42/6

    Florida

    Florida Retirement System Pension Plan: Regular Class

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011

    65/8; Any/33

    45/8

    Florida

    Florida Retirement System Investment Plan

    Effective July 1, 2002

    Any/1

    N/A

    Georgia

    Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS)

     

    60/10; Any/30

    Any/25

    Hawaii

    Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS) - Contributory Plan for General Employees

    Hired before July 1, 1984

    55/5

    Any/25

    Hawaii

    Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS) - Noncontributory Plan

    Hired on or after July 1, 1984 and before July 1, 2006

    55/30; 62/10

    55/20

    Hawaii

    Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS) - Hybrid Plan

    Hired on or after July 1, 2006 and before July 1, 2012

    55/30; 62/5

    50/20

    Hawaii

    Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS) - Hybrid Plan

    Hired on or after July 1, 2012

    60/30; 65/10

    50/20

    Idaho

    Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI)

     

    65/5; Age + YOS = 90

    55/5

    Illinois

    Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois

    Hired before Jan. 1, 2011 (Tier 1)

    65/any; 62/5; 60/10; 55/35

    55/20

    Illinois

    Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2011 (Tier 2)

    65/any; 67/10

    62/10

    Indiana

    Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund

     

    65/10; 60/15; age 55 and age + YOS = 85

    50/15

    Iowa

    Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS)

    Retired before July 1, 2012

    62/20; 65/4; 55 and AGE + YOS = 88; 70 and still working for IPERS

    55/4

    Iowa

    Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS)

    Hired after June 30, 2012

    62/20; 65/7; 55 and AGE + YOS = 88; 70 and still working for IPERS

    55/7

    Kansas

    Kansas Public Employees Retirement System: School Tier 1

    Hired before July 1, 2009

    65/1; 62/10; Age + YOS = 85

    55/10

    Kansas

    Kansas Public Employees Retirement System: School Tier 2

    Hired on or after July 1, 2009 and before Jan. 1, 2015

    65/5; 60/30

    55/10

    Kansas

    Kansas Public Employees Retirement System: School Tier 3 (Cash Balance)

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2015

    65/5; 60/30

    55/10

    Kentucky

    Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 1983 and before July 1, 2002

    60/5; Any/27

    55/5

    Kentucky

    Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2002 and before July 1, 2008

    60/5; Any/27

    55/5

    Kentucky

    Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2008

    60/5; Any/27

    55/10

    Louisiana

    Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana

    Hired before July 1, 1999

    60/5; Any/20;

    Louisiana

    Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana

    Hired on or after July 1, 1999 and before Jan. 1, 2011

    60/5; 55/25; Any/30

    Any/20

    Louisiana

    Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2011

    60/5

    Any/20

    Maine

    Maine Public Employees Retirement System: State and Teacher's Retirement Program

    Hired before July 1, 1983

    60/1

    Any/25

    Maine

    Maine Public Employees Retirement System: State and Teacher's Retirement Program

    Hired on or after July 1, 1983 and before Oct. 1, 1989

    62/1

    Any/25

    Maine

    Maine Public Employees Retirement System: State and Teacher's Retirement Program

    Hired on or after Oct. 1, 1994 and before July 1, 2006

    62/1

    Any/25

    Maine

    Maine Public Employees Retirement System: State and Teacher's Retirement Program

    Hired on or after July 1, 2006

    65/1

    Any/25

    Maryland

    Maryland State Retirement and Pension System: Teachers' Pension System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011

    65/10; Age + YOS = 90;

    60/15

    Maryland

    Maryland State Retirement and Pension System: Teachers' Pension System

    Hired between Jan. 1, 1980 and July 30, 2011

    65/2; 64/3; 63/4; 62/5; any/30

    60/15

    Massachusetts

    Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 1979 and before Jan. 1, 1984

    55/10; Any/20

    Massachusetts

    Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 1984 and before July 1, 1996

    55/10; Any/20

    Massachusetts

    Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 1996 and before July 1, 2001

    55/10; Any/20

    Massachusetts

    Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2001 and before April 1, 2012

    55/10; Any/20

    Massachusetts

    Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after April 1, 2012

    60/10

     

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Basic

    Hired before January 1, 1990 and retired before February 1, 2013

    55/30; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Fixed - Option 1

    Hired before January 1, 1990, elected MIP plan - 25 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 1)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Fixed - Option 2

    Hired before January 1, 1990, elected MIP plan - 25 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 2)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Fixed - Option 3

    Hired before January 1, 1990, elected MIP plan - 25 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 3)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Fixed - Option 4

    Hired before January 1, 1990, elected MIP plan - 25 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 4)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Graded - Option 1

    Hired after December 31, 1989 and before July 1, 2008 - 20 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 1)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Graded - Option 2

    Hired after December 31, 1989 and before July 1, 2008 - 20 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 2)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Graded - Option 3

    Hired after December 31, 1989 and before July 1, 2008 - 20 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 3)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Graded - Option 4

    Hired after December 31, 1989 and before July 1, 2008 - 20 YOS on February 1, 2013 (Option 4)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Member Investment Plan (MIP) Plus

    Hired after June 30, 2008 and before July 1, 2010 (MIP Plus)

    Any/30; 60/5; 60/10

    55/15

    Michigan

    Public School Employees' Retirement System - Pension Plus Plan (PPP)

    Hired after June 30, 2010 (Pension Plus Plan)

    60/10

    55/15

    Minnesota

    Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association

    Hired on or before June 30, 1989

    65/3; 62/30; Age + YOS = 90

    55/3; Any/30

    Minnesota

    Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association

    Hired after June 30, 1989

    66/3

    55/3

    Mississippi

    Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System

    Hired before July 1, 2007

    60/4; any/25

    Mississippi

    Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2007 but before July 1, 2011

    60/8; any/25

    Mississippi

    Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011

    65/8; any/30

    60/8

    Missouri

    Public School Retirement System of Missouri

    Retire on or before July 1, 2013

    60/5; any/30; Age + YOS = 80

    55/5; any/25

    Missouri

    Public School Retirement System of Missouri

    Retire after July 1, 2013

    60/5; any/30; Age + YOS = 80

    55/5; any/25

    Montana

    Montana Teacher's Retirement System (TRS)

     

    60/5; Any/25

    50/5

    Nebraska

    Nebraska School Employees' Retirement System

     

    65/1; age 55 and age + YOS = 85

    60/5

    Nevada

    Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2001 and before Jan. 1, 2010

    65/5; 60/10; Any/30

    Any/5

    Nevada

    Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2010

    65/5; 62/10; Any/30

    Any/5

    New Hampshire

    New Hampshire Retirement System

    Hired before Jan. 1, 2002

    60/1

    50/10; 20 YOS and Age + YOS = 70

    New Hampshire

    New Hampshire Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2002 and before July 1, 2009

    60/1

    50/10; 20 YOS and Age + YOS = 70

    New Hampshire

    New Hampshire Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2009 and before July 1, 2011

    60/1

    50/10; 20 YOS and Age + YOS = 70

    New Hampshire

    New Hampshire Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011

    65/1

    60/30

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

    Hired before July 1, 2007 (Tier 1)

    60/10; 55/25

    Any/25

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

    Hired on or after July 1, 2007 and before Nov. 2, 2008  (Tier 2)

    60/10

    Any/25

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

    Hired on or after Nov. 2, 2008 and before May 22, 2010 (Tier 3)

    62/10

    Any/25

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

    Hired on or after May 22, 2010 and before June 28, 2011 (Tier 4)

    62/10

    Any/25

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

    Hired on or after June 28, 2011 (Tier 5)

    65/10

    Any/30

    New Mexico

    New Mexico Educational Retirement Board

    Hired before July 1, 2010

    65/5; Any/25; Age 60 and age + YOS = 75

    Age + YOS = 75

    New Mexico

    New Mexico Educational Retirement Board

    Hired on or after July 1, 2010 and before July 1 , 2013

    67/5; Any/30; Age 65 and Age + YOS = 80

    Age + YOS = 80

    New Mexico

    New Mexico Educational Retirement Board

    Hired on or after July 1 , 2013

    67/5; 55/30; Age 65 and Age + YOS = 80

    Any/30; Age + YOS = 80

    New York

    New York State Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 27, 1976 and before Jan. 1, 2010 (Tiers 3 & 4)

    62/5; any/30

    55/5

    New York

    New York State Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 2010 and before April 1, 2012 (Tier 5)

    62/10; 57/30

    55/10

    New York

    New York State Teachers' Retirement System

    Hired on or after April 1, 2012 (Tier 6)

    63/10

    55/10

    North Carolina

    Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS)

    Hired before August 1, 2011

    65/5; 60/25; Any/30

    50/20; 60/5

    North Carolina

    Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS)

    Hired after July 31, 2011

    65/10; 60/25; Any/30

    50/20; 60/10

    North Dakota

    North Dakota Teachers' Fund for Retirement

    Hired before July 1, 2008 and age 55 by July 1, 2013

    65/3; Age + YOS = 85

    55/3

    North Dakota

    North Dakota Teachers' Fund for Retirement

    Hired before July 1, 2008 and younger than 55 on July 1, 2013

    65/3; Age 60 and Age + YOS = 90

    55/3

    North Dakota

    North Dakota Teachers' Fund for Retirement

    Hired on or after July 1, 2008 and retire after July 1, 2013

    65/5; Age 60 and Age + YOS = 90

    55/5

    Ohio

    State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

    Retiring before Aug. 1, 2015

    65/5; Any/30

    55/25; 60/5

    Ohio

    State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

    Retiring on or after Aug. 1, 2015 and before Aug. 1, 2017

    65/5; Any/31

    55/26; 60/5; Any/30

    Ohio

    State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

    Retiring on or after Aug. 1, 2019 and before Aug. 1, 2021

    65/5; Any/33

    55/28; 60/5; Any/30

    Ohio

    State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

    Retiring on or after Aug. 1, 2026

    65/5; 60/35

    60/5; Any/30

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - Low Base

    Hired after June 30, 1979 and before July 1, 1992

    62/5; AGE + YOS = 80

    55/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - High Base

    Hired after June 30, 1979 and before July 1, 1992

    62/5; AGE + YOS = 80

    55/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - Low Base

    Hired after June 30, 1992 and before July 1, 1995

    62/5; AGE + YOS = 90

    55/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - High Base

    Hired after June 30, 1992 and before July 1, 1995

    62/5; AGE + YOS = 90

    55/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - Low Base

    Hired after June 30, 1995 and before November 1, 2011

    62/5; AGE + YOS = 90

    55/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS) - Low Base

    Hired on or after November 1, 2011

    65/5; 60 and AGE + YOS = 90

    60/5; Any/30 YOS

    Oregon

    Oregon Public Employees Retirement System: Tier One

    Hired before July 14, 1995

    58/5; any/30

    55/5

    Oregon

    Oregon Public Employees Retirement System: Tier Two

    Hired on or after Jan. 1, 1996 and before Aug. 29, 2003

    60/5; any/30

    55/5

    Oregon

    Oregon Public Employees Retirement System: OPSRP

    Hired on or after Aug. 28, 2003

    65/5; 58/30

    55/5

    Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) - Class T-C

    Hired before July 1, 2001

    62/1; 60/30; Any/35

    Any/5; 55/25

    Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) - Class T-D

    Hired after June 30, 2001 and before July 1, 2011

    62/1; 60/30; Any/35

    Any/5; 55/25

    Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) - Class T-E

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011, Class T-E

    65/3; 35 YOS and AGE + YOS = 92

    Any/10; 55/25

    Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) - Class T-F (Optional)

    Hired on or after July 1, 2011, Class T-F

    65/3; 35 YOS and AGE + YOS = 92

    Any/10; 55/25

    Rhode Island

    Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI) - Schedule B2

    Hired after September 30, 2009 and before July 1, 2012

    65/10; 62/29

    62/20

    Rhode Island

    Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI) - Schedule AB

    20 YOS on July 1, 2012

    60/10

    55/20

    Rhode Island

    Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI)

    Hired after June 30, 2012

    Social Security FRA

    Social Security FRA-5/20

    South Carolina

    South Carolina Retirement System

    Hired before July 1, 2012 (Class 2)

    65/5; Any/28

    60/5; 55/25

    South Carolina

    South Carolina Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 2012 (Class 3)

    65/8; 8 YOS and Age + YOS = 90

    60/8

    South Dakota

    South Dakota Retirement System (Class A)

    Retired before July 1, 2008

    65/3; Age 55 and Age + YOS = 85

    55/3

    South Dakota

    South Dakota Retirement System (Class A)

    Hired on or after July 1, 2008

    65/3; Age 55 and Age + YOS = 85

    55/3

    Tennessee

    Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System

    Hired on or after July 1, 1976

    60/5;  any/30

    55/5; any/25

    Texas

    Teacher Retirement System of Texas

    Tier 1: hired on or before Sept. 1, 1980, or hired on or before Sept. 1, 2005 and at least age 50 at that time or age + YOS = 70 that year

    65/5; Any/5 and Age + YOS = 80

    55/5; Any/30

    Texas

    Teacher Retirement System of Texas

    Tier 2: hired after Sept. 1, 1980 and on or before Sept. 1, 2007, and not in Tier 1

    65/5; Any/5 and Age + YOS = 80

    55/5; Any/30

    Texas

    Teacher Retirement System of Texas

    Tier 3: hired after Sept. 1, 2007

    65/5; 60/5 and age + YOS = 80

    55/5; Any/30; age + YOS = 80

    Utah

    Tier 1 Contributory

    Hired before July 1, 1975

    65/4; Any/30

    60/20; 62/10

    Utah

    Tier 1 Contributory

    Hired after June 30, 1975 and before July 1, 1986

    65/4; Any/30

    60/20; 62/10

    Utah

    Tier 1 Noncontributory

    Hired after June 30, 1986 and before July 1, 2011

    65/4; Any/30

    60/20; 62/10; Any/25

    Utah

    Tier 2 Public Employees Contributory Retirement System

    Hired after June 30, 2011

    65/4; Any/35

    60/20; 62/10

    Vermont

    State Teachers' Retirement System of Vermont

    Hired before July 1, 1981

    60/any; Any/30

    55/5

    Vermont

    State Teachers' Retirement System of Vermont

    Hired on or after July 1, 1981 and before July 1, 1985 (or at least age 57 on July 1, 2010)

    62/any; Any/30

    55/5

    Vermont

    State Teachers' Retirement System of Vermont

    Hired on or after July 1, 1985 (and younger than age 57 on July 1, 2010)

    65/any; Age + YOS = 90

    55/5

    Virginia

    Virginia Retirement System (VRS) - Plan 1

    Hired before July 1, 2010 and vested on January 1, 2013

    65/5; 50/30

    55/5; 50/10

    Virginia

    Virginia Retirement System (VRS) - Plan 2

    Hired after June 30, 2010

    Social Security FRA/5; AGE + YOS = 90

    60/5

    Washington

    Washington Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) - Plan 2

    Hired after September 30, 1977 and before July 1, 1996

    65/5

    55/20

    Washington

    Washington Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) - Plan 3

    Hired after June 30, 1996 and before May 1, 2013

    65/10; 65/5 with 1+ YOS after age 44

    55/10

    Washington

    Washington Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) - Plan 3

    Hired on or after May 1, 2013

    65/10; 65/5 with 1+ YOS after age 44

    55/10

    West Virginia

    Teachers' Retirement System (TRS)

     

    55/30; 60/5; Any/35

    Any/30-35

    Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)

    Retired before January 1, 2000

    65/Any; 57/30

    55/Any

    Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)

    20 YOS on January 1, 2000

    65/Any; 57/30

    55/Any

    Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)

    Hired after June 30, 2011

    65/Any; 57/30

    55/Any

    Wyoming

    Wyoming Public Employee Pension Plan

    Hired before Sept. 1, 2012

    60/4; Age + YOS = 85

    50/4; Any/25

    Wyoming

    Wyoming Public Employee Pension Plan

    Hired on or after Sept. 1, 2012

    65/4; Age + YOS = 85

    55/4; Any/25

    Note: Table is based on data from the Urban Institute's State and Local Employee Pension Plan Database

  • The Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of School System Finances compiles total education spending and revenue across the entire country. The latest data, released earlier this week, shows teacher benefits continue to eat away at school budgets. 

    In total, public school expenditures have tripled since 1992 (including inflation). The table below shows how those dollars are being spent across broad categories. Figures for all years reflect current expenditures and do not include capital costs or debt. 

    As the table shows, school districts are spending more and more of their budgets on employee benefits, at the expense of base salaries and wages. Over the long term, the percentage of education budgets going toward salaries fell from 65.0 percent in the 1991-92 school year to 55.7 percent in 2017-18. Over the same time period, the percentage of school district budgets going toward employee benefits increased from 15.0 to 24.3 percent.

     

    As a share of total expenditures, benefits now eat up nine percentage points more than they did in 1992. 

    These are steady, long-term trends, but they're no less troubling. Increased spending on benefits is one reason teacher salaries have been flat, in real terms, over the last few decades. Benefits are also a less efficient use of money than salaries, since teachers value $1 in take-home pay more than they do $1 in benefit spending. Worse, much of these rising benefit costs reflect the growing burden of debt costs, not actual benefit enhancements for teachers and retirees. 

    Updated on May 18, 2020

    Taxonomy: