CalSTRS Compelled to Disclose Certain Pension Amounts
CalSTRS responded to a Public Records Act request by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility on May 21. The request was for the names and monthly benefit amount of CalSTRS benefit recipients who have a monthly benefit of $8,333 or more.
Public Information Must Be Told
Benefits already paid to public employees are considered a matter of public record. Therefore, CalSTRS was compelled to release this information. CalSTRS operates at the highest level of integrity and transparency in accordance with the law.
Any concerns or questions about the Public Records Act request or use of the information obtained by it may be directed to the requestor, the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility at (916) 966-9366 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On May 27, the foundation posted on its Web site the information CalSTRS sent.
Years In Classroom Earn Solid Benefit
The retiree statistics released by CalSTRS highlight the importance of the benefit structure and of longevity on the job to the retirement benefit.
CalSTRS currently has approximately 224,000 benefit recipients. Of that group, about 1 percent, or approximately 3,100 benefit recipients, receive pensions of $100,000 or more. Nearly all of that group worked at least three decades; 80 percent worked in education between 35 and 45 years.
The CalSTRS defined benefit pension formula is based on:
- an educator’s age at retirement
- years of employment
- highest average salary, called final compensation
At age 60, retiring members receive 2 percent of final compensation for each year worked. They can receive up to an additional 0.4 percent of final compensation for each year they work past age 60, or if their career lasted 30 years or more.
CalSTRS Is Main Retirement Income
The CalSTRS pension is the primary source of retirement income as California’s educators do not pay into or receive Social Security for their public school employment.
Of the 12,568 California educators who retired in fiscal year 2007-08, the median number of years on the job was 29 years. The average CalSTRS pension was $48,180 per year, which was about 62 percent of the average highest salary.