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Pension problems: Why retired teachers support recent filed legislation

Posted at 2:36 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 20:06:19-05


Texas is one of the few states that only pays into a pension fund for public school teachers and not into social security. This means when most Texas teachers retire, they will not have access to social security benefits without being penalized.

However, State Representative Abel Herrero recently filed legislation that would give retired teachers the benefits they’ve earned.

Kina Pena, a former CCISD teacher, says the legislation would help teachers like her. She retired in 2010. What was supposed to be an exciting time, as she planned for her retirement, instead produced a shock.

“I was stunned,” said Pena. “I earned my 40 quarters so I can get my social security but I can’t get all of it.”

Because Texas and school districts like CCISD does not pay into social security for teachers, teachers pay into a teacher retirement plan through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

However Pena, like many other teachers, accumulated 40 quarters by working various side jobs throughout their career. Therefore, Pena believes she should earn social security benefits. But because of the law, she was penalized, and only receives a third of her benefits.

According to Kimberly Prowse, a financial coordinator for Laguna Wealth Services, the same is true for other teachers in the Coastal Bend.

“We see it more and more that teachers are realizing this problem and coming in and seeking some help,” said Prowse.

Prowse said because the law is complicated, even Laguna Wealth Services staff had to better educate themselves on the issue.

“It was something that we weren’t completely aware of or didn’t see the real problem there,” said Prowse. “And it’s pretty eye-opening and pretty shocking.”

Of course it’s also eye-opening to retirees like Pena, who says she deserves the benefits she rightfully earned.

“I paid that money into social security,” Pena said. “That’s not double dipping because we’ve worked two jobs.”​

Less than 50 of the state’s districts pay into social security for their teachers. CCISD is not one of them. KRIS 6 reached out to CCISD for comment, but we’re still waiting for a response.

As for the legislation filed by State Representative Herrero, he hopes it will be discussed during the 86th regular legislative session, which begins on January 8, 2019.