Monday, October 20, 2014

Out of Sight, Out of Money

There are many things I remember about my beginning days as a teacher. I had no education training, so I was thrown into a classroom of kids without the slightest idea when I was doing. Worse than that, since I was taking over for someone going on sabbatical, the administration of my school decided it would be a great idea to take the worst problem kids in the entire school and dump them on whoever came to fill the vacancy--in this instance, me. By the time I finished my first year, four of my students were in prison, and one had been committed to a mental hospital. And these were eighth graders. How I didn't end up in a mental hospital myself is a mystery.

To top all that off, I wasn't getting paid. I don't know if the situation is better today, but veterans can confirm that it used to take the DOE forever to get people on the payroll. In my case, it took, if I recall correctly, about 3 months for me to get my first paycheck, and longer than that to get the arrears.

I'm sorry to report that things are just as crappy today as they were then. I have been officially retired now for nearly three months, and I have not gotten a pension check yet.

Oh, they warned me this could happen, with a wink and a nod as if they were only covering themselves. I was told that the reality was probably two months, tops, before I got a check as long as everything was in order.

TRS has this wonderful thing they call "advance payments" which they offer people like me to make sure we don't end up licking discarded candy wrappers in the street for nourishment. Even if they can't straighten out your paperwork immediately, they'll send you some money to tide you over.

What they don't tell you is that it takes two months to get an advance payment. And the check I got was for less than a third of what I was owed. And now, another month has passed.

If you want the gruesome numbers, I have received about $2000 of the approximately $12500 I am owed. Supposedly, I will get my first check along with all the back money at some point, but when that will be is anyone's guess.

If you're an in-service member, you got a large check on September 30 that included the retro money for the 1% pay increases over the last two years. As a new retiree, I have not gotten than money, nor has the union provided any clue when retirees will receive theirs.

So far, it seems that if you're a retiree, you're out of sight, out of mind, and pretty much out of money. I've ended my career just the way I started--waiting to get paid.

It's not a crisis for me, luckily. My bills still get paid, and I have plenty of money saved in my TDA (see Chaz's excellent piece on TDA investments, although I advise keeping it all in fixed at 7%, which, IMO, really can't be beat for steady returns and security). But it would be nice, just once, to get what I am owed in a timely way, and it's a bit discouraging to see that things haven't changed much since I started teaching.

And let's not even talk about how we won't be getting our retroactive payments on the new contract in full for another six years.