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Teachers and Social Security

August 27, 2008

Re "Pension apprehension," editorial, Aug. 22

Your editorial describes my situation perfectly. I worked under Social Security for several years in my first post-college occupation. Then, in midlife, I returned to school, earned three teaching credentials and have taught special education students for the last 18 years.

Now that retirement is fast approaching, imagine my surprise to learn that my Social Security benefits -- money that I earned and contributed -- will be cut by 50%!

If this "double dipping" were to result in my becoming a wealthy retiree, I could somewhat understand this peculiar law. But wealth is not in my future. In fact, I may have to postpone retirement indefinitely. As you point out, this does feel like punishment. And it's just another example of how our society devalues its teachers.

Norma Stewart

Arcadia

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The Social Security offset is perhaps one of the most discriminatory bills ever passed in Washington. It is directed only at teachers and those who enter the teaching profession. Not firefighters, not police and not nurses. Only teachers.

In order for a non-teacher to receive full Social Security benefits, he or she only needs to pay in for 10 years, or 40 quarters. For a teacher to receive full benefits, that teacher needs to pay in for 30 years, or 120 quarters.

Your estimated cost of repealing all of the provisions of the offset, $60 billion over 10 years, may or may not be accurate.

You could have written that, in fairness to all of the teachers in the 13 affected states who have paid into Social Security over the years (I am one), it is only right that all of the offsets be repealed and that the estimated cost would be $6 billion a year. Which is less than the cost of one month in Iraq.

Paul Pruss

Lake Forest

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I recently attended a luncheon for retired Orange County teachers.

They were outraged that The Times' editorial opposed full restoration of Social Security benefits for teachers, citing cost. The outrage was that The Times viewed fairness as some sort of commodity that can be apportioned according to a dollars-and-cents formula, instead of acknowledging that fairness is a fundamental ethical precept.

What have we come to as a society when even major media apportion fairness on a cost-benefit basis?

John F. Rossmann

Tustin

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