Recently, I checked out the rates for AFT's term life insurance, as I want my wife to be in good shape if I die before our house is paid off. My previous policy has been costing me $77/month, but through AFT, the same coverage is now $55/month.
As it turns out, the company with which I was previously insured is expensive life insurance. With AFT, I now know I have the best possible rate. Now I have satisfaction of knowing my wife is financially protected--and that I am not wasting money.
AFT did not even require a blood sample like the other company did.
~ Craig Andrews
At the end of January 2019, several of us attended an information workshop conducted by CalSTRS, and several points seemed worth sharing (disclaimer: the following is only my interpretation of the workshop; please let us know if anything posted here is erroneous!):
- You can retire earlier than age 55 if you have accrued benefits within certain other retirement systems, such as CalPERS.
- Retirement from CalSTRS and resignation from your teaching job are two separate actions. You should do the paper work to retire from CalSTRS before you resign from your job. You can rescind CalSTRS retirement papers (prior to the date selected) but you cannot really ever rescind a resignation.
- You should plan a CalSTRS retirement date as early as possible following your last contracted day of work so that you immediately begin collecting CalSTRS money.
-Apply for retirement within 6 months of your targeted date--not earlier.
- Your Defined Benefit Supplement program is where STRS deductions will go from extra duties, such as summer school, extra classes taught, and so on. Older faculty had 25% of their retirement funding routed to this account from 2000 to 2010. After 2010, this account has only been funded by extra duty contributions.
- This Supplement account (which we all have) is not included in the quote given in the STRS calculator.
-When planning your retirement, consider that the Age Factor maxes out at 2.4%, which for most of us who have been teaching many years will be at age 61-and-one-half. Note that between the ages of 59 and 63 is when the pension really increases; however, it makes little sense, pension-wise, to retire after 63.
-If you want a surviving beneficiary to receive your pension after your death, you need to elect from three models CalSTRS offers, each of which will reduce your monthly benefit. This monthly benefit reduction will be less harmful if you make this election sooner, in pre-retirement. Just be advised, however, that once you modify your benefit in this way, you will be assessed a benefit reduction no matter what. In other words, you should probably not do this if you are thinking your marriage won't make it!
- There is also a one-time death benefit (which is not very big). At any rate, make sure CalSTRS knows who your beneficiary is. You can also have as many beneficiaries as you desire.
- Think about enrolling in CalSTRS Pension2, which is a voluntary defined contribution plan offering 403(b), 457(b), Roth 403(b), and Roth 457(b) accounts with low fees and no surrender fees. Do your research at 403bCompare.com
- Note that you will probably not be able to collect spousal widow(er) Social Security if you collect STRS.
- You will forfeit dollar-for-dollar any CalSTRS-covered employment within the first 180 days of retirement. After that, you can collect up to 45,022 (for 2018/19) without penalty. Of course, after retiring from CalSTRS, you can work all you want in non-CalSTRS-covered employment without penalty to your monthly pension.
-The benefit improvement increases every September by 2% of your initial benefit, and is not compounded. This means that your ending salary will bless or haunt you for the rest of your life, depending on your district's salary schedule. This is yet another reason to consider the value of seeking greater compensation on the salary schedule, perhaps even if it means giving it back to help pay for health.
November 26, 2018
I hope the Thanksgiving break gave each of you a chance to relax a bit, to catch up on everything, and simply to take care of yourselves for a change.
I will be trying to post on the blog regularly; sometimes it will be notes, sometimes a quick letter to let you know what is happening.
This week I will add my notes from the School Board meeting.
If you have questions, please just email me. I will get back to you.
However, I always want to encourage you to ask your site rep first, not because I don’t want to answer but because I want our membership to grow stronger. One person answering all the questions is a weak union; many people being able to answer is a strong union.
My goal is to grow our strength and help us to become more visible as a union every year.
Ojai Federation of Teachers, President
The Ojai School Board meets on November 14 at 5:30 in the board room.
OFT Secretary Craig Andrews writes, "Last spring, my sister invited my wife and I to join her family at Universal Studios. Imagine my delight at saving more than $60 in admission fees by going through the discount process on CFT's webpage." Our membership gives us nice benefits in many ways including the following:
On July 1, 2018, Ojai Federation of Teachers, Local 2119 (CFT, AFT, AFL/CIO) succeeded in ratification of its new three-year Agreement with Ojai Unified School District.
Negotiators met throughout the school year to revamp their agreement to better fit with the changing times (for example, adding "technology" to Clause 6.6) and economic conditions. Here are a few highlights of the new Agreement:
220.127.116.11-2: New standards for clean and maintained classrooms.
6.6: Working technology.
6.10.10: Changes to notification of Spec. Ed. student needs.
6.15: Brand new to our Agreement is a Collaborative Decision-Making Process. Both Administration and OFT Negotiators are proud of this clause, which brings faculty into the act of making workplace decisions. Sites are to arrange meetings both in the fall and spring to establish a list of priorities that need to be decided for the year. Has your staff met to do this yet?
7.12: Staff development and other scheduling done collaboratively.
Article 8: New compensation model. This builds a COLA into the Agreement but also protects the District from solely having to shoulder benefits cost increases.
10:2.1: Long-time OUSD teachers have new evaluation cycle possibilities.
Article 13: New language clarified some leave issues.