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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about about pensions. What happen's if a person gets their 22 year longevity in the year that they retire? In my case I received my 22 year longevity in February and the raise im May. During the summer I decided to retire. What will my salary for 2016 be based on? In order for my salary to be based on the 22 year longevity figure, did I have to retire in February of 2017? Did I have to work a full year for that salary to kick in? I have 24 years 2 months & 8 days and I am 62 so I don't have an age reduction. I know I'm going to pay the price dearly because of the 110% rule.

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a great school year.

A couple of questions.

1. Will the retro payments count towards our pensions?

2. If yes, the 25% may make those years much higher then my (and other peoples’) final 5 years. (I’m guessing a lot of people will be making above $130,000 for some or all of those years. And, if a teacher does a lot of per session those years it could be above $135,000.) Will they look back more than 5 years in cases like that?

3. If yes, how do you get them to do that?


Anonymous said...

Hey Chaz,

Can you do an extended piece on 55/25?

What happens if you leave/resign before reaching age 55 and 25 years?

What happens if you make 25 years, but not the age of 55?
Can you collect pension at 55?

I think quite a few of your readers are in 55/25.

Anonymous said...

Please dont give outpension advise. Please have your readers call a pension consultant or have a consultation in their local borough office.

Anonymous said...

They have purposely sent ATRs to the worst schools with the highest vacancy rates. Be careful, these schools are dangerous.

Anonymous said...

ANON 802 how have you concluded that?

Anonymous said...

9:49, The same way I have concluded you're a moron.

Anonymous said...

The original 6 schools on sesis were the schools taken from each district in the boro that had anticipated high vacancies due to large staff turnover. Easily self verified via Open Market and mostly the worst schools in the city.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @6:25: Call a pension consultant? Why? They could not explain how retro/money owed that was promised to be pensionable would be calculated into final pension amounts for teachers who retired from my school this past July. Neither could they explain how all this affects the 110% rule. Two years after the signing of the new contract and no can explain anything at the UFT! I'll stick with Chaz until UFT proves they know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

To anon @9:17am: You are so right. The UFT can't explain diddly squat. I was scheduled for a Final Consultation before I retired in July and I ended up cancelling it. I called and got a smart ass answer from one of the pension consultants. I think I called in May and asked how the two 4% retro raises were being calculated into my FAS because that is what the UFT website says and he told me "How can the two 4% retro raises be included in your FAS when you are retiring in 2016 - not 2018 when the last 2% retro increase will be added in May.

That did it for me. The UFT can't answer questions about a contract that they got us into. Supposedly this summer the DOE was supposed to send TRS updated salary info to include the two 4% retro raises from 2009 and 2010. The FAS of people who retired after 7/1/2014 will include the 8% from 09 & 10 without waiting for pensions to be recalculated. Retirees still have to wait for the lump sum payments in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The only thing for retirees will be that their final pension amount will include the reto raises from 2009 & 2010.

This recalculation is supposed to start in late 2016 through 2017. Their is also a DOE acknowledgement form that was mailed to everyone that retired after 7/1/14 and new retirees will have it attached to their retirement form.

Anonymous said...

Hey - It is true, I have looked high and low on the UFT and TRS website about how the retroactive payments will be handled in calculating the FAS. I couldn't find a thing. If you expand the search a little bit though, you can find out how NY State and Local retirement systems handle Retro-Payments. I don't think it is much of a leap to guess that our retro payments will be handled the same way.
In a nutshell, it says that the year that the money is EARNED is the key, not the year that the money is paid. To put it another way, the 2% + 2% that you earned all these years will be applied to each year's salary for the purpose of calculating the FAS, but NOT the lump sum amounts.
Good luck to all my union brothers & sisters! We have a spectacular retirement plan compared to 99% of the rest of society. Enjoy it!
-- JP