Complicating the retirement savings picture, about 40% of public school teachers, or more than 1 million, are not covered by Social Security, according to Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit education organization.
Social Security originally only covered private workers, but in the 1950s, Congress allowed states to extend coverage to its workers. Some states opted out of enrolling their workers and instead relied on pension plans with more generous payout formulas, according to TeacherPensions.org, a project of Bellwether Education Partners.
Most teachers in these 15 states and the District of Columbia do not pay into the Social Security system and do not receive benefits, TeacherPensions.org says: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas.
Some teacher organizations argue that pension plans are not working for teachers and leave too many unprotected. TeacherPensions.org estimates "that half of all Americans who teach in public schools won't qualify for even a minimal pension benefit, and less than one in five will remain long enough to earn a normal retirement benefit."
The study recommends enrolling all teachers into the Social Security system to provide a level of retirement protection that is portable.