There's a Zora Neale Hurston quote that I love, because it's applicable to the human existence AND teacher pension blogs. Ready for it? "There are years that ask questions, and years that answer." If we're speaking of teacher pension blogs, 2018 was a year that asked. Four of our top five posts this year were questions. Teacher pension plans are inarguably complicated, so it's really no surprise that the most high traffic pieces published in 2018 were ones that shed light on a complex issue. Check them out below, plus one extra post highlighting our most asked question of all time.
1. Do Teachers Get Paid Over the Summer? One of the most common teacher salary questions is whether or not teachers get paid over the summer months. So, do they? Not the most satisfying of answers, but, it depends. Teacher payroll schedules vary district-to-district; some allow workers to spread their 10-month salary over 12 months, while others don’t give any paycheck during the summer months, requiring teachers to budget well, or in some cases, get a second job.
2. I'm a Public School Teacher. When Should I Retire? 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 a teacher can maximize his or her retirement wealth. As explained in this post, teachers 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 their state’s normal retirement age.
3. New Study: Three-Fourths of Massachusetts' Educators are Pension "Losers" A large group of Massachusetts teachers will receive pension benefits worth less than even their own contributions. How long they must stay depends on their age when they entered the profession. As shown in this post, a 25-year-old new teacher in Massachusetts won’t qualify for benefits worth more than her own contributions unless she stays more than 30 years.
4. Just How Expensive and Generous Are Teacher Pension Plans? Many people assume that an "expensive" retirement plans must obviously translate into generous benefits for workers, but that's not always true. If an employer contributes more money to a 401k plan, that money goes directly into workers' accounts. But that's not how most teacher pension plans work. This post digs into the nuance of teacher pension plan structure.
5. How Do You Calculate a Teacher Pension? Teacher pension systems can be quite complex. There are specific rules that vary state-to-state that affect any given teachers’ annual pension benefit after retirement. There are wider contexts to consider as well. This posts walks through a typical teacher pension formula, while also highlighting state-specific variables, like Social Security coverage and vesting periods.
Finally, a New Year's bonus: our most viewed post, year-after-year, details the average teacher pension in each state. This year, my colleague Max Marchitello put in the work to update the post with the most recent data available. You can find it here.