California Educator

May / June 2017

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CTA/NEA-Retired president and photography buff Marc Sternberger has been traveling the world. " Yes, there's a whole world out there beyond teach- ing," chimes in Cole, a former elementary school teacher. "All you have to do is look." Plenty of veteran teachers are looking to join Heeter and Cole soon. Most retire between ages 57 and 66. In 2012, the state noted that 21.5 percent of teachers were over 55. Approximately 11,300 California teachers retired in 2015. By 2019, the nation will have lost half the teachers it had just a decade earlier due to retirements, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future predicts. But b efore deci ding to retire, t each ers must do their homework to see if the time is right. Heeter, for e xampl e, m a d e sure th at sh e wa s psych o logi- cally and financially ready. "I wanted to make sure I could af ford to retire, because I know some teachers who retired prematurely and then went back to the classroom because they couldn't afford it. I didn't want that to happen to me." Make sure you have enough income In California, K-14 teachers, employers and the state all contribute to the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS). You are entitled to retirement benefits if you are at least 50 years old with 30 years of service, or at least 55 years old with five years of service. e first step is to see what you' ll receive monetarily. At the CalSTRS website ( you can find your local CalSTRS office and schedule a free appointment with a counselor to discuss what you can expect from your pension, or defined benefit, based on your age, salary and years of service. e website also has a retirement benefits calculator to help figure out your approximate monthly income. Check out its "Why Wait" and "What If " calculators to see if your retirement savings are on track — and what a difference a few years might make. Your defined-benefit plan gives you a guaranteed pen- sion if you are vested (eligible for retirement benefits, with a minimum of five years of service). According to CalSTRS, though, the median pension benefit replaces only 60 to 65 percent of pre-retirement income, which may not be sufficient for a comfortable lifestyle. H o w e v e r, a d e f i n e d - c o n t r i b u t i o n p l a n s u c h a s a voluntary 403(b) plan gives you the opportunity to sup- plement your pension with additional savings. It's like the 401(k) plan in the private sector. More information CTA/NEA-Retired If you are retired or retiring, you don't have to lose your CTA benefits. Just join CTA/NEA-Retired, the only retiree organization affiliated with CTA and NEA, which includes an NEA Retirement e-newsletter for timely tips on Medicare, taxes, investing and more. Among the benefits are: • CTA Group Legal Services — One-hour advice and consul- tation relating to retirement benefit issues, health and welfare issues, and substitute employment. Also, once a year there's free legal consultation for 30 minutes on any matter except taxes, immigration and intellectual property. • NEA Liability Insurance — $1 million professional liability insurance for members who decide to substitute after retiring. • CTA Disaster Relief Assistance — Those who have experi- enced significant losses due to disasters in California may be eligible for financial assistance from a special fund. • Eligibility for discounts and special rates — Discounts avail- able for auto and home insurance, travel and entertainment, vision care, car rental, dental visits, hearing aids, pet insur- ance, Medicare Part D, travel packages, credit union services, and more. • Having a political voice — Learn how you can lobby against attempts to privatize Social Security or erode Medicare or pension benefits. • Staying connected — Share interests and socialize by par- ticipating in local CTA/NEA-Retired chapter social functions with former colleagues and fellow retirees. You can pay annual dues of $54 by having $4.50 deducted monthly from your CalSTRS pension check, pay annual dues of $60 by check or credit card, or pay one-time dues of $450 for life membership by check or credit card. For more information, visit or email 49 May / June 2017 CTA & You

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