Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Stealing from their children: A lot of Texas teachers worked as janitors today to exploit a loophole and steal from the Social Security system. Today was the last day the loophole existed which allowed teachers to claim increased spousal support benefits if they worked their last day as a Social Security-paying employee.
Most teachers in Texas (and in states like California as well) don't pay into Social Security, instead their retirement is funded by a separate, private retirement fund. These teachers never paid into Social Security, so they shouldn't be getting anything out, but they will be when their spouse dies.
By doing the janitor work, they become eligible to receive Social Security spousal benefits equal to one-half of their spouse's monthly Social Security check. For instance, if a teacher's husband receives $1,000 a month from Social Security, she would get $500 while also receiving a monthly pension check.
Congress changed the law in February after auditors estimated that the loophole could cost the Social Security system $450 million. Auditors reported that one-fourth of all Texas public education retirees, or 3,521 people, had used the loophole in 2002.
In a program as flawed as Social Security is, saving $450 million is not a make-or-break deal, but these teachers should be ashamed of themselves.