Thursday, September 08, 2016
How To Enhance Your Teacher Pension
The TRS website allows New York City Public School teachers to get a snapshot of our pension. Unfortunately, the TRS changed their online access and their teacher pension calculation is incorrect and not updated monthly like they used to be. Moreover, their calculated Final Average Salary (FAS) does not include per session, coverage, or 683 money earned in the three year (FAS). These are duties that can enhance your pension. That adjustment is made at your final pension consultation and even then that may be an adjustment by the TRS in retirement. However, you can get an approximate pension number by looking at your last five years of your gross income on your W-2 form.
The reason for going back five years rather than three years is to see if any one year exceeded the 110% cap as required by State law. That amount that exceeds the 110% cap is not included in the FAS for pension purposes. Interestingly, people who received their 9.9% twenty year longevity raise in the last couple of years before retiring, along with the mandated yearly raise in May puts the teacher, over the 110% cap from the previous year's salary, even without the extra income. This may not be fair but that's what our union let the State and City get away with.
Another way to enhance a pension is called "Ihe Art Of Pension Hopping" an article published in the prestigious Advisor Perspectives Journal that showed that if a second career teacher worked in three different states who allow the teacher to use the time of each state (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) to enhance that person's pension in the State they worked in. The author is a Math teacher in the New York City schools and is worth reading. Unfortunately, New York State does not allow teaching experience from other States or private institutions to be bought back. However, I believe all three states allow you to buy back New York State teaching experience to enhance their pensions in the State.
Finally, the best way to enhance a pension is to work at least 20 years and preferably 30 years and finding a school with a collaborative administration, (no leadership academy principals) well behaved students, supportive colleagues and a strict student discipline policy is the only way a New York City public school teacher can survive long enough for an enhanced pension.