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Our Issues

CalRTA’s main purpose is to enhance and protect the benefits of retired educators. Currently our focus is on issues in three broad categories:

Protect Teacher Retirement Financial Security 

CalRTA supports 100% purchasing power protection for all CalSTRS retirees. In 2003, CalRTA joined with CalSTRS to sue to require the state to make a $500 million payment to the fund that provides purchasing power protection. We won that lawsuit.

CalRTA also supports the current defined-benefit pension system for California educators. A guaranteed income in retirement is fundamental to recruiting and retaining the best qualified professionals to become teachers.

Repeal the Social Security Penalties Against California Educators 

The current Social Security system includes little-known penalties that reduce and often eliminate Social Security benefits for retired teachers in California and 14 other states. CalRTA supports solutions to the long-term financing concerns of Social Security, including repeal of these penalties which discourage people from becoming teachers.

Secure Access to Affordable Comprehensive Health Insurance

The CalRTA Board of Directors of the California Retired Teachers Association voted to support universal health insurance reform in an effort to ensure affordable health care for all Californians.

Initiative Workshop and Pension Education Program
In April and early May 2010 CalRTA held eight workshops throughout California to educate members about the pension initiatives that might qualify for the November ballot. In addition, members heard how CalSTRS pensions differ from CalPERS pensions and why those differences are important.

Below are handouts from those workshops (in pdf file format):

- Current Attacks on Pensions

- Response to Pension Attacks

- CalSTRS Full Funding Information

- WEP/GPO Update

- Retirement Security Talking Points

- Pension Education Program Health Care

- Questions & Answers by Ken Hewitt

- Pension Education Program Power Point

- Ken Hewitt - Pension Education Handouts
CalRTA Legislative Priorities

  • Protect teacher retirement financial security

  • Secure access to affordable comprehensive health insurance.

  • Repeal the Social Security Penalties against California educators.

  • Support California’s public education system

State Legislative Platform
The California Retired Teachers Association believes that all educators have a right to retire in dignity with a retirement that retains its purchasing power value and ensures access to affordable quality health care.  To protect these benefits for future retired educators, public education and educators need to be supported and the Teachers’ Retirement Fund needs to be actuarially sound.  To accomplish these goals, CalRTA will advocate for an adequate CalSTRS retirement an equitable secure Social Security retirement, access to affordable quality health care and appropriate fund for public education.

CalSTRS Retirement

  • Protect and enhance retirement purchasing power with the goal of 100% purchasing power protection as measured against the original retirement allowance.

  • Advocate member, employer, and State Teachers’ Retirement Fund contribution rates that will ensure actuarial long-term funding for CalSTRS defined benefits.

  • Support efforts to provide retired CalSTRS members with the opportunity to change retirement options.

  • Support elected representation of one or more retired educators to the CalSTRS Board.

  • Ensure pension equity for all present and future CalSTRS members.

Social Security 

  • Provide CalSTRS retired members, who either by contribution or by survivorship, qualify for benefits from the Social Security System, with equal rights to such benefits by repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset.

  • Support long-term Social Security solvency.

  • Oppose public employee mandatory inclusion in Social Security.

  • Oppose cuts to Social Security benefits.

Health Care

Ensure access to affordable, quality health care and:

  • Support health and long-term disability insurance plans that assure quality, also emphasize prevention and provide equity in their benefits.

  • Protect Medicare benefits and oppose privatization plans.

  • Support affordable, accessible prescription drug benefits.

  • Support state regulation of health insurance premium rates

  • Advocate for state or national long-term care insurance.

Public Education

CalRTA will support public education and educators by advocating for:

  • Funding that establishes equal educational opportunity for all students.

  • Discouraging public monies being used to support private, parochial, sectarian, and corporate or for profit schools.

  • Protecting educators from censorship and maintaining freedom of selection and use of text books, library materials and media aids and technology are appropriate to the curriculum and maturity level of the students.

  • Opposing limitations to due process and collective bargaining rights.

  • Opposing evaluating educators based on test results only.

  • Opposing federal mandates based on test results only.

  • Protecting the freedom of teachers and students to explore and discuss divergent points of view.

CalRTA Board Approved 5/20/12
Fight Against Social Security Penalties
Will Social Security Put a Dent in Your Retirement?

Did you know …

* California has almost one million employees who qualify for Social Security benefits or are married to a Social Security earner and are denied their earned retirement benefits.

* Most of these employees are educators, police and sheriff officers, and firefighters.

* California is one of 14 states where public school educators fall under this federal penalty. The law also affects many city and county employees.

* If an educator worked for 20 years in the private sector, earned Social Security credits and then entered teaching in California and taught 20 years, that educator could lose more than half of his/her earned Social Security retirement benefits.

* If a public safety officer worked for 20 years providing public safety, and then went to work in private industry, he/she would receive the same penalties as the educator.

* If a public servant’s spouse was a Social Security earner and preceded the public servant in death, the public servant would lose the earned Social Security spousal death benefit.

For Years CalRTA Has Been a Leader in This Fight

Two Federal bills, House Resolution 235 and Senate Resolution 484, the Social Security Fairness Act, would eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). CalRTA is working toward their passage.

How You Can Help

Write to President Obama and add your voice to the fight to repeal these penalties. Points to include in your message are below, but, if you’re personally affected by these penalties, include your own story as well.

President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500


Use the points above in your message in addition to any personal experiences you've had.

Information Resources

Even if you're affected by these penalties, chances are you're not familiar with them.  Below are additional resources to help answer your questions:

CalRTA brochure explaining the Social Security penalties

Social Security Fairness Website

NEA Video explaining the penalties, called "Penalties for Public Service"

WEP-GPO Defined

14-State Coalition Supports Repeal

A History of Abuse & Confusion

Congressional Testimony
CalRTA Supports Health Care Reform
The Board of Directors of the California Retired Teachers Association voted to support universal health insurance reform first authored by state Senator Sheila Kuehl in SB 840 and currently in SB 810 by Senator Mark Leno.

The Board’s approval followed previous statewide workshops to brief members on the complex legislation. The workshops were attended by a wide range of association members and featured thoughtful discussions of the health care issue and how it would affect those with and without health care insurance.

The current comprehensive legislation would replace California’s current health insurance system with one that would guarantee access to many millions of residents not covered by the current system. Most of any additional costs are expected to be provided through cost-savings by having one entity pay health care costs, rather than the current system in which administrative costs are extensively duplicated.

This video on You Tube shows a rally at the State Capitol in January 2010. Look for the blue and yellow CalRTA signs.
Background Information
Here's additional information on issues of interest to retired educators.

* Are Teachers Pensions Equitable?

* Brief Overview of Social Security Penalties

* In-Depth Explanation of Social Security Penalties [PDF]

* Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Pensions

* Why Teachers Need a Guaranteed Pension