Some of the good news is I have reached out to CalSTRS and set up two dates for retirement/investment workshops. Those dates are January and February. You can sign up for the January and February workshops by clicking here. Also, remember, Thursday, November 7 is Movie Night. If you want a fun night out, you can also sign up for that at Sign Up Genius as well. You pick the movie, and MEA pays for it.
In addition to retirement information, CalSTRS staff will also be talking about their investment program called Pension2. Like CVT, not only didCTA advocate for the creation of CVT as a non-profit health care option for teachers, it also advocated for the creation of CalSTRS, way back in 1913. CalSTRS Pension2 has a 403b plan. 403b is like a 401k but it is strictly for employees of public schools and certain tax exempt organizations. Here’s the GOOD news thing…CalSTRS’ fees are called institutional fees meaning their fees are so low, it’s the same rates charged to Bezos, Gates, and Buffet, currently the three richest Americans. Seriously. A quarter of 1%. My analogy about investments is my dollars are my workers that go out into the cruel world and make more money for me. The lower the fees, the more workers I have working for me. 403b also LOWERS your current tax liability. You say, you can’t afford to set aside money for retirement. I say, you can’t afford NOT to. You say. I never have enough money at the end of the month. I say, if you deduct it from your paycheck, you will not miss it. You won’t…because it’s not in your account. And if it’s there like typical Americans, we’ll spend it. Start with a low investment and work up.
On a related subject, have you received offers via email, usually in your junk mail but not always, inviting you to a 403b investment seminar or consultation? Yea, always delete those. Do what you want, but they’re VERY deceiving. Usually, their name is misleading like Teachers Investment Group or some garbage like that. They’re not affiliated with CalSTRS or public schools in ANY way. And they charge very high fees like many investment companies. These firms are ALWAYS calling me so they can have access to your staff lounge to sell you investment products. I’m VERY firm in my NO. If they argue, I interrupt and say, “The staff lounge is like a temple for teachers to unwind and relax not be pestered by sales pitches. I see my job is to keep the moneylenders out of the temple. Thank you but no thanks.” The ONLY groups that are allowed in the staff lounge are Standard and Cal Casualty, the companies endorsed and vetted by CTA. I know some of you have investments with friends or relatives which is fine…but their companies are for profit. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m saving for my retirement which means I want the LOWEST fees I can get.
Talk about this at lunch with your staff members, would you? It’s important, and EVERYBODY needs to know. Someone who is currently in the hospital thanked me profusely for encouraging her to pick up disability insurance. I must admit…it did make me a bit teary eyed.
You’d think I would get a commission from Standard Disability considering the way I promote it. I promote it because of the next paragraph.
Frankly, I say this every year. Someone contacts me and says “I have _________ (think of a terrible illness). I have a few sick days, I don’t have disability insurance, and I didn’t donate to the catastrophic leave.” And then I get to tell them the bad news. It is the worst conversation I ever have to have, and it seems as if I have to do it EVERY year. So you know what happens, right? Their paychecks stop. And there is nothing I can do to help them. That’s the most frustrating part.
This is how our disability insurance works. The disability clock starts after your sick days are exhausted plus any catastrophic leave you are entitled to. At that time, you are eligible for two years of full pay with disability insurance IF a doctor says you are unable to return to work. But remember, you have to donate a sick day to the catastrophic bank to be eligible for that catastrophic leave.
So, if you have a year’s worth of sick leave like I do, you could be out 3 years. Hey, I stayed home with my kids too when they were sick. 😊 I’m just old. Save your sick leave if you can! It also counts on your pension. Every sick day is worth about $6 a month on your pension. So if you have 200 days of sick leave, that’s worth about an extra $1200 a month…for the rest of your life!
Just because I’m a curious fellow, yesterday I checked Standard’s rates and compared it to when I started. It’s the same as it was 37 years ago. Not only is American Fidelity more expensive but AF also limits the use based on the disability. In other words, American Fidelity, based on their contract language, will determine how much of the plan you can use based on your disability. Standard doesn’t. If a doctor approves of your disability, then you are out. No questions asked. Plus, American Fidelity requires you to buy a separate policy for cancer coverage.
If you want to switch from American Fidelity to Standard, it’s complicated, but I’ll review that in a separate email.
Long email, huh? Complicated stuff. Got questions? I’ll be visiting each site with our Standard rep to answer questions! Attached is the Site Visit Schedule.
Did you know that you’re not covered by California Disability Insurance? California educators do not pay into Social Security, so we also don’t pay into CASDI like every other employee in California. Sure, you have sick leave like most workers, but do you have enough for several years if you had a disability caused by an illness or an accident on the job or off the job? Of course you don’t. Nobody does.
You’re not going to remember much of this so Suzanne, the Standard rep, and I will visit EVERY school site during October and November.
Download the Flyer here for more information.
Or, click here to visit the Standard Disability website created just for MEA to provide more information.
Our Standard Disability Insurance Campaign is during the months of October and November. This campaign allows a member to purchase Standard Disability Insurance without any health care exam or questions being asked. This only happens every four years, so I would encourage those of you that don’t have it to seriously consider it. Many of you have contacted me with horror stories about American Fidelity, so don’t believe me about it. Believe your fellow staffers. If someone loves American Fidelity, ask if they have ever had to use it. If they haven’t, they haven’t read the fine print.