Social (in)security

In the front-page story of your October issue (“Districts sell access to S.S. loophole”), you pointed out that some Texas school districts are charging their employees several hundred dollars to apply for a minimum-wage job for a day so they can qualify for Social Security. How about doing a story on the teachers in several states (I believe Texas may be one of them) that do not permit teachers who have already paid into Social Security to collect those benefits that would otherwise be due them?

I am one of those people. I have worked for many years in private schools, where I was considered a self-employed minister of religion. That allowed me to pay both the employee and the employer portion of Social Security, which amounted to more than 15 percent of my salary. When I switched to public schools in 1998, I traded paying 15 percent of my salary to Social Security for paying more than 10 percent of my salary to the state retirement system. However, I had to give up all claims on that Social Security money. Is this fair?

David Lininger
Library Media Specialist
Hickory County R-1 Schools
Urbana, Mo.

One of the things your article failed to address is professionals who enter the teaching field later in life. Under the current system, no matter how many quarters of Social Security deposits made, the professional is limited only to the pension earned through the school’s pension program. In Texas, where I teach, the program is the Teacher Retirement System, or TRS.

This system is patently unfair to all who heed the call to pass their life skills on to the next generation. For all the talk of nationwide teacher shortages and the need for more professionals to enter teaching, this is the dirty little secret that is kept well-hidden in the fine print.

I have contacted my congressman and senators urging them to keep this so-called loophole open. This is not of case of getting something for nothing. It is a case of receiving what has been rightfully earned.

Everett Brunson
Teacher
Hooks Independent School District
Hooks, Texas

First, let me say that I do enjoy your publication. It fills a needed void in professional publications. I would, however, like to comment on the recent front-page article about Texas school districts selling access to the Social Security loophole.

What you printed was indeed true and concise, but I felt that it did not go far enough and seemed a bit biased. It needs to be explained that the GPO [Government Pension Offset] is keeping money rightfully earned and paid into Social Security. I have taught for 30 years in various states and have held other jobs as well. Throughout the years, I have paid in all of my quarters to Social Security. Now that I am in Texas and will retire here, I will be denied the right to collect all of the Social Security benefits I have earned. I will only get a portion of them. The GPO is penalizing the people who can least afford it.

I felt your article made it sound like teachers were cheating Social Security. What is wrong with a widow wanting to get the benefits that her husband rightfully earned for her, or that any worker has rightfully paid in to the system?

Betty Haug
Collinsville Independent School District
Collinsville, Texas

Editor’s reply: Thanks for your kind words about eSchool News and for taking time to express your views. For what it’s worth, in my column in the same issue (“Catch my drift,” page 6), I did suggest that educators like you really can’t be faulted for looking out for their loved ones. See: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=3988.

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