Because your pension is one of the most important benefits you have as a UFT member, the union’s Pension Department is expanding its outreach to help today’s in-service members better understand their pensions and plan for retirement.
“Thanks to the hard work of our union, we have a secure defined-benefit pension that will pay benefits for as long as we live,” said Debra Penny, one of three teacher-members on the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System board. “Only 14 percent of working Americans have defined-benefit pension plans.”
UFT members will be able to choose from twice as many pension clinics as last school year. These clinics will be scheduled at UFT borough offices beginning in October through next spring. Separate workshops are planned for the 84,000 members in Tier 4 of the pension system and the 43,000 members in Tier 6 to address each group’s specific concerns.
“During each two-hour clinic, we provide an overview of their pension tier and what members should consider when preparing for retirement,” said Victoria Lee, a UFT special representative for pensions. “We cover about eight different topics and answer questions.”
In years past, UFT pension representatives have visited about 450 schools annually at the invitation of chapter leaders. This school year, to give more members access to this valuable information, UFT district representatives will be organizing pension presentations for clusters of nearby schools in their districts.
Two-hour workshops on the Tax-Deferred Annuity Program will also be scheduled in all UFT borough offices to inform members, particularly newer members, about the tax and saving advantages of investing money in a TDA early in their careers and about the available investment options.
“It is important for our in-service members to understand the value of contributing to the TDA program as members often use their TDAs to supplement their pensions after retirement,” said Penny.
Outreach to the 8,000 therapists, nurses and other UFT members enrolled in the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) will also be invited to pension seminars tailored to them. They, too, will be notified by UFT email of the date and location of clinics throughout the school year.
“It’s a good idea to attend a pension clinic early in your career to get your bearings,” advised Lee. “That way, you won’t be overwhelmed when you are approaching retirement and you can make sound decisions early on that enhance retirement security.”