Social Security Benefits vs. Public Pensions

When discussing the issue of public employee pensions, it is easy to suggest that these pensions are necessary because public employees usually don’t earn a social security benefit. While this is true, it ignores the startling disparity between the value of a social security benefit and the value of the typical public employee pension. And it isn’t hard to make the comparison.

If you go to the Social Security online “Estimated Social Security Retirement Benefit” table, you will see what you may expect to receive from social security when you retire, based on how much you earned in your last year working. A person making $65K per year, retiring on their 66th birthday, will begin to collect a monthly social security benefit of $1,609, or $19,308 per year.

In California, public employee pensions typically are calculated based on how many years the employee works, times a set percentage that usually ranges between 2.0% and 3.0%. As an example of how this would work, here are some apples to apples comparisons with social security, i.e., a public employee who enters the workforce at age 22, works for 44 years, makes $65K per year, and retires on their 66th birthday. At a 2.0% per year pension factor – which is the low end of the scale for public employees – this person will qualify for a pension equivalent to 88% of their final salary, based on 2.0% per year times 44 years worked. This equates to […] Read More