Teacher Retirement Plan Basics

Written by: Mike Valles

As a teacher, you look forward to a time when you can retire and put it all past you. Your hard work has paid off – in the number of lives bettered, and in a solid teacher retirement program.

Every state and city has different teacher retirement plan basics, and each one will also have different levels and benefits. Each university will also have their own unique retirement plan. The good news is that it will all be spelled out in your contracts in the local area you work.

Using a state’s online investment calculator to determine just how much your retirement investment will be worth when needed is a great way to get rough estimates. These calculators will also enable you to experiment and check out various options.

Some states offer pension plans for their teachers. Changes in the economy, however, may force some states to make changes or updates in their pension plans, such as occurred in Ohio. Keeping up with these changes and how it affects you is important, because many organizations are working to reduce pensions and increase with alternative plans, such as 401(k)s. In some cases, teachers may also be able to self-direct their own investments, giving you greater flexibility, but also the need to know more about investing.

Teacher retirement plans come in many forms. You need to be aware of the many options in it to be able to get the most benefit from it. Some plans have a stated interest rate, others may be variable. It may also be necessary to withdraw all of your funds at once, such as in the case of Michigan teachers, and this is even necessary if you should try and borrow any money from it – which closes the account immediately.

Teacher retirement plans may also be expanded with supplemental retirement plans. These plans may allow you to choose between investing in a 457(b), a 401(k), or a 403(b). In some places, a Roth 457(b) or a Roth 401(k) may also be available. These tax-deferred plans, or the Roth post-tax plans, if available, can enable you to save additional money for your retirement. This can be extremely useful, because in 2009, Ernst & Young stated that people today have a 78 percent chance of outliving their retirement savings.

Teachers that are in large unions, such as the United Federation of Teachers (in New York City), will have their own specialized retirement programs. All questions related to such programs are handled from their website.

Social security should also be considered when determining the best age to retire from teaching. In order to get full benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), only those who were born prior to or in 1937 can retire this year. Those who were born later will have to wait longer than just turning 65. A chart is available at the SSA that shows exactly when you can retire with full benefits.

Although many teacher retirement programs are very strong, teachers should closely watch how their retirement plan is progressing and be aware of all changes. Ignoring this can mean that you end up with much less than hoped for when you reach retirement age.


Teacher Retirement Plan Basics

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