“Don’t take your benefits for granted.”
New York State Public Employees Federation
Is your retirement secure? That’s a loaded question these days. Most members of AFT Public Employees participate in defined-benefit retirement systems that provide retirees guaranteed income for life. The amount of the benefit is typically based on years of service and final average salary.
But a combination of factors, both real and manufactured, ranging from the economic downturn to political ideology, have resulted in increased scrutiny of defined-benefit pensions for public employees. Your retirement benefits have been called “America’s pension time bomb,” “the unspoken deficit,” and a “huge burden for state and local governments.”
Absent from the political rhetoric and media reports about the under-funded defined-benefit retirement systems is the fact that public employees have been automatically paying their share into the retirement systems. Payroll departments see to it, taking the worker’s contributions straight out of their paychecks. The same cannot be said for employers’ contributions. Many governments, as employers, have taken payment holidays over the years, relying on investment returns to make up for skipped payments.
“Every single person who has a defined benefit should be worried,” says Gerri Madrid-Davis, executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition (NPPC). The NPPC was established in 2006 by the AFT and other labor unions to act as an early warning system and make strategic assessments of policy proposals that threaten defined-benefit pensions.
False depictions of public employees' defomed-benefit pensions are often accepted at face value—and serve as the justification for reform. Read more.
"Retirement: A shared responsibility"
There is no shortage of reports about the nation's retirement crisis. In the private sector, too many workers are ill-prepared for retirement. Read more.
"Retirement Security: A lesson from West Virginia"
State lawmakers aren’t inclined to “learn” lessons from other states, but AFT members should heed the cautionary tale from West Virginia—and take action to stop efforts to move the public sector from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution retirement accounts. Read more.
"Retirement security at risk for younger workers"
Alaska lawmakers closed enrollment to their public employees’ defined-benefit retirement plans July 1, 2006. The Alaska Public Employees Association has been battling to reverse the policy ever since. Read more.
"Retirement: A career-long plan"
Experts say retirement basics are a system that provides a stable retirement income from three sources: a pension; Social Security; and a 401(k), 403(b) or 457-types of tax-deferred individual savings. Read more.
"Profile of a public employee retiree"
Retiree Buzz Davis details his sources of income in retirement—and his thoughts about defined-contribution retirement accounts. Read more.
“You can’t bank on your benefits”
There are perennial debates about the ability of governments, as employers, to meet the defined-benefit pension and retiree healthcare obligations. Absent from the debate are two provisions of the Social Security Act that reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for retirees who receive a government pension.Read more.
"Retirement security: Defined-benefit vs. defined contribution plans"
While legislative justifications for moving to defined-contribution retirement plan are often tied to the government’s bottom line, a researchers at Boston College found that the employer’s administrative costs for defined-contribution plans are higher. Read more.
Lawmakers in more than two dozen states are using shortfalls in public employee defined-benefit pension systems to fuel so-called reform. Their final destination is the same as that of former President George Bush’s attempted Social Security overhaul: individual accounts that offer no guarantees, no retirement security. Read more.
"The war on retirement"
Anti-tax and anti-government groups are behind the push in many states to eliminate defined-benefit plans. Read more.