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Social Security Exclusion is an Unfair Risk for Part-time Lecturers at UC


Nearly 2000 UC Lecturers are being denied the most basic form of retirement security afforded to other American workers: social security. UC denies social security (SS) coverage to any employee with an appointment of less than 50% of full time. Casual and temporary employees are also denied SS coverage, whether they are part time or full time. In lieu of social security, and pursuant to federal law, UC requires these employees to participate in a defined contribution plan (DCP), and a 7.5% contribution is deducted from their paychecks. UC makes no contribution to the DCP.

While SS coverage is required in private sector employment, it is voluntary for state and local government employers. Normally, the public employers who deny SS coverage do provide their employees with a defined benefit pension plan. Most California schoolteachers, for example, do not have SS coverage but are members of the State Teachers' Retirement System. At UC, however, the part-timers and casuals who are excluded from SS are also excluded from the UC Retirement Plan; that is, the University denies them access to a defined retirement benefit. Moreover, the SS benefits that employees may have accrued from non-UC employment can be penalized as a result of employees' participation in the University's DCP. The penalty, owing to an ill-conceived "Windfall Elimination Provision" in the SS law, can cause employees to lose up to $328 monthly in SS benefits that were earned outside UC.

UC's social security exclusion policy impacts on employees and their families in several ways:

  • It denies employees access to a retirement based on a guaranteed monthly income, imposing instead a retirement future based on a stock market gamble.
  • Employees' monthly SS benefits will be reduced, and some employees will lose access to any SS eligibility if they have not accrued enough quarterly credits of SS-covered earnings.
  • Retirees will be particularly vulnerable at a later age when their DCP savings are depleted and they are more dependent on their SS checks.
  • Employees' SS survivor benefits for spouses and children will be reduced or lost.
  • Employees' coverage for long-term disability under Social Security Disability Insurance will be reduced or lost. 

In 2015 contract negotiations, UC-AFT will fight for access to Social Security benefits for all UC lecturers.  The first step in this campaign is for all of our members to understand how the Social Security exclusion impacts them as individuals, and how it impacts their lecturer colleagues.  We will be posting more detailed information on this issue as bargaining progresses.