Research & Analysis by Laura D. Quinby

State and Local Government Employees Without Social Security Coverage: What Percentage Will Earn Pension Benefits That Fall Short of Social Security Equivalence?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 3 (released August 2022)
by Jean-Pierre Aubry, Siyan Liu, Alicia H. Munnell, Laura D. Quinby, and Glenn R. Springstead

Social Security is designed to provide a base of retirement income, to be supplemented in part by employer-sponsored retirement plans. However, approximately one-quarter of state and local government employees are not covered by Social Security, which federal law allows if their employer-provided plans provide comparable benefits. Yet many public pensions are less generous for recent hires, raising questions of whether those plans will still provide Social Security–equivalent benefits. The authors analyze 66 plans and project that a significant minority of them are likely to fall short of providing Social Security–equivalent benefits, potentially affecting 750,000 to 1 million noncovered workers annually.

Pensions for State and Local Government Workers Not Covered by Social Security: Do Benefits Meet Federal Standards?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 3 (released August 2020)
by Laura D. Quinby, Jean-Pierre Aubry, and Alicia H. Munnell

Federal law allows certain state and local governments to exclude employees from Social Security coverage if the employees are provided with a sufficiently generous pension. Approximately 6.5 million such workers were not covered by Social Security in 2018. Retirement systems for noncovered workers have become less generous in recent years, and a few plans could exhaust their trust funds within the next decade, putting beneficiaries at risk. This article examines data from a variety of sources to assess whether state and local governments currently satisfy the federal standards for retirement plan sufficiency and whether the standards ensure benefits equivalent to those from Social Security.