Do Public Workers Without Social Security Get Comparable Benefits?


The brief’s key findings are:

  • About one quarter of state and local workers are not currently covered by Social Security.
  • Federal standards require that state and local plans provide their noncovered workers benefits equivalent to Social Security at the full retirement age.
  • This study explores whether the plans satisfy the federal standards, and whether the standards themselves ensure equivalent benefits.
  • The results show that public plans do adhere to the standards, and the standards satisfy the letter of the law.
  • But looking beyond the standards to see if plans also provide equal lifetime benefits suggests that a significant portion fall short for some of their members.
  • Policy options include updating the standards to a lifetime measure or, more importantly, requiring all public workers to be covered by Social Security.

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