Teacher Pensions Blog

Roughly 90 percent of all teachers are enrolled in a pension fund. However, each fund has its own rules and set of conditions that determine the overall value of a retired teacher's annual benefit. Interested in data on the average teacher pension in your state?  See the chart below for the latest data, updating an earlier post!  

The first column shows the “average pension” for newly retired teachers from the past ten years in each state. In the majority of states that don’t list the average benefit for newly retired members outright, these data are retrieved from states’ observations about retirees and beneficiaries added to the retirement plan’s rolls and about new benefit payments added to the rolls. These data are based on 2016 figures unless otherwise noted. Keep in mind that this method is not completely precise– these numbers also include beneficiaries added to the rolls because their spouses passed away, as well as potential increases in benefit payments due to inflation adjustments.

The next column shows, among all newly retired teachers, what the median retiree earns. The third column shows the average pension for all current retirees and beneficiaries. Finally, the last column show the estimated percentage of new teachers who will actually receive a pension. The data come from each state's annual comprehensive financial report.  

In Maryland, for example, the “average pension” for new teachers is $24,409. But the median pension for new retirees is just $16,404, meaning half of all new retirees earn less than that amount. Moreover, 57 percent of new Maryland teachers are expected to leave the system before qualifying for a pension.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average Teacher Pension by State

State

Average Benefit for New Retirees

Median Benefit for New Retirees

Percentage of New Teachers Who QUALIFY FOR a Pension

Alabama

$22,335.81

$22,512.00

39

Alaska (DB plan)

$34,605.15

-

39

Arizona*

$19,770.85

$20,604.00

100

Arkansas

$22,830.26

$17,592.00

57

California

$49,267.69

$51,000.00

69

Colorado

$40,784.73

$39,247.02

36

Connecticut

$53,452

-

55

Delaware*

$21,792.62

$27,024.00

29

Distrct of Columbia

$30,828.83

$53,172.00

36

Florida* (y)

$22,214.86

$18,316.77

28

Georgia

$43,192.11

$23,760.00

29

Hawaii*

$9,361.05

$27,816.00

25

Idaho*

$20,041.00

$20,088.00

70

Illinois

$29,435.61

$57,000.00

50

Indiana (Pre1996 Fund)

$27,695.90

$21,000.00

31

Indiana (1996 Fund)

$18,735.43

$15,000.00

31

Iowa*

$20,262.50

$15,036.00

42

Kansas*

$17,052.00

$11,400

45

Kentucky

$46.576.38

$38,824.00

67

Lousiana

$27,324.25

$27,000.00

54

Maine*

$28,421.00

$25,260.00

14

Maryland*

$24,409.20

$16,404.00

43

Massachusetts

$43,642

$41,174

12

Michigan

$28,148.37

$20,892.00

50

Minnesota (All retirees)

$27,593.21

$29,400.00

50

Mississippi*

$18,927.72

$19,656.00

22

Missouri

$36,302.51

$30,000.00

58

Montana

$29,110.82

$24,631.00

35

Nebraska*

$23,611

$24,328

32

Nevada*

$35,683.23

$30,000.00

57

New Hampshire

$19,597.82

$21,000.00

31

New Jersey*

$40,175.17

-

56

New Mexico

$22,815.81

$19,512.00

33

New York

$47,431.70

$51,360.00

40

North Carolina

-

-

47

North Dakota

$29,508.20

$22,452.00

56

Ohio

$66,416.82

$48,258.00

34

Oklahoma

$24,369.40

$21,000.00

44

Oregon

$37,793.86

$20,520.00

46

Pennsylvania (2015)

$19,797.56

$25,836.00

36

Rhode Island

$25,102.82

$27,000

59

South Carolina*

$20,528.17

$15,000.00

37

South Dakota*

$16,286.07

$12,300.00

53

Tennessee

$22,751.41

$24,588

56

Texas

$24,920.93

$24,588.00

59

Utah (noncontributory)

$18,569.27

$14,352

52

Utah (contributory)

$29,823.33

$35,136

52

Vermont (y)

$20,277.91

$20,750.5

33

Virginia

$22,770.89

$18,852.00

50

Washington (PERS 1)

$28,203.65

$26,529.84

67

Washington (PERS 2)

$20,775.48

$18,311.28

67

West Virginia

$21,415.35

$18,000.00

25

Wisconsin

$22,911.00

$13,392.00

64

Wyoming*

$24,506.79

$13,500.00

42

*Includes all public employees

(y) Indicates data based on 2017 figures.


Knowing what your state’s “average pension” can be interesting. But this amount doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount that many teachers actually earn. Below are four important caveats about the data you’re looking at:

  1. Not all teachers qualify for a pension. States can and do set relatively high minimum service requirements, ranging from five to 10 years, and over half of incoming teachers won’t qualify for retirement benefits in their state. Leaving these teachers out of the overall pool obscures who gets counted in the “average pension.”
  2. Of the teachers who do qualify for benefits, their benefits will vary widely. The statistical average, or mean, hides the fact that only a small percentage of incoming teachers will receive a full career pension at retirement, while many, many more get only a small amount. Also, teachers in 15 states aren't covered by Social Security; pensions in these states tend to be larger to make up for this fact.
  3. These amounts only tell us what a teacher earns at retirement—not what she contributed to her state or local system. The averages include many teachers who qualify for some pension, but those pensions may be worth less than the value of the teacher's own contributions.
  4. In many states, teacher pension plans have created newer, less generous retirement tiers for newly entering members. If you’re a new teacher and you live in a state with a tiered plan, your retirement plan could end up looking significantly more meagre than the numbers below.