Los Angeles CalSTRS Lawyers Explain Double Dipping –
Teachers CalSTRS Retirement Benefits And Social Security
As experienced CalSTRS attorneys, we are often asked by teachers if they will be able to collect their CalSTRS pension benefits AND Social Security. Unfortunately, teachers in California (and 14 other states) who have opted for state pensions may be denied Social Security benefits even if they have paid into the fund while working in non-teacher jobs.
And even more sadly, certain California Public Employees – including teachers – may not only be opted out of Social Security, but their family’s survivor benefits may be denied too.
Teachers’ CalSTRS and “Double Dipping” Social Security
Up until 1983, retired teachers in California were allowed to collect a state pension, as well as any Social Security benefits earned from other work outside of teaching. But in 1983 Congress put an end to this by voting to veto what they called “double dipping.”
California law now has provisions that prevent certain public employees – including teachers, police officers, firefighters, and some other public civil servants – from “double-dipping” by receiving both a state pension and Social Security in 1983.
Our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers warn our California Public Employee Teacher clients to be aware that they and their surviving family members may be opted out of Social Security.
Even if you paid into Social Security for many years, you may be giving up your right to collect any Social Security benefits that you earned working in the private sector, if you are now a public employee of the California. Additionally, your spouse dependent children will also be denied your survivor’s benefits. This holds true even if your child or spouse never worked as a public employee themselves.
Changing the Double Dipping Law for CalSTRS Teachers
U.S. Senator from California Dianne Feinstein is trying to get the “double dipping” law changed so that hardworking teachers and other public employees are not denied the Social Security benefits for which they have worked. Currently, more than one million public employees in California who would otherwise qualify for Social Security won’t get the Social Security benefits they deserve when they retire.
Many people are outraged by this law – including former and current lobbyists for UTLA, the Los Angeles teachers’ union. The UTLA, lobbyist and several Congressman have also joined the crusade to change the double dipping law that robs teachers and others of their hard earned Social Security.
In the meantime, teachers considering early retirement are urged to contact their human resources department, the Social Security Administration, and the California Retired Teachers Association to understand exactly what benefits they will (and will not) be eligible to receive upon retirement.