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403b Plans for Massachusetts Teachers & Administrators

Sign Up Today for a 403b Plan and Start Paying Fewer Taxes Tomorrow

Since 1990, I’ve been a financial advisor specializing in helping educators set up, invest in, and service their 403(b) plans.

I have accumulated a reservoir of knowledge on the retirement system, the social security offset/windfall elimination, 403(b) plans, and other financial issues specific to public employees.

Because I am an independent financial advisor who provides flexible payment options (fee-only, hourly rate, or commission), I can work with most companies in your school system’s 403(b) plan. A partial list of companies I work with includes Fidelity, American Funds, Putnam, MFS, Aspire, Security Benefit, Axa, and Oppenheimer.

How Much Can You Contribute to a 403b?

Public school educators, including university professors and administrators, can save more pre-tax than any other public or private-sector employee.

That’s because educators are eligible for two retirement plans, both with unique catch-up options.

In 2021, educators can save $19,500 into a 403(b) and a 457 plan. Those 50 years of age or older can also contribute an additional $6,500 into one of the two programs.

The 403(b) catch-up allows educators with low 403(b) savings who have worked 15 years with the same employer to save an additional $3,000 per year for five years.

One problem with this catch-up is that any contributions over $19,500 are credited first against the 15-year rule, so a teacher aged 50 or older could use up their 15-year catch-up without knowing it.

The 457 plan has a more considerable catch-up. It allows eligible employees to contribute $37,000 per year for three years before their “regular retirement date.”

The 403(b) catch-up can be used in conjunction with the age of 50 catch-up and a 457 plan. However, the 457 plan catch-up cannot be used with the age of 50 catch-up, although the employee could still contribute to a 403(b).

Not everyone can afford to save the maximum; however, it is good to know that educators have a well-deserved potential benefit.

Your school system provides you with a list of 403(b) companies. The 457 plan is different. The city/town usually provides one company. Both typically give you a broad range of investment options.

Social Security and Public Employees

Public employees in Massachusetts do not contribute to the Social Security system, but many of them contribute through other jobs. Some also have spouses who take part in the Social Security system. Both scenarios are affected by two federal laws.

  • The Windfall Elimination provision can reduce any Social Security benefits that a public employee earns by as much as 55%. For example, a retired teacher who receives a pension from MTRS and also qualifies for a monthly Social Security benefit of $1,000 might only receive $450 a month.
  • The Government Pension Offset provision affects the Social Security benefits of a spouse, widow, or widower. For example, if a married teacher receives a monthly pension from MTRS of $6,000, two-thirds of that amount ($4,000) will be credited against any benefit from their spouse’s Social Security.
    • Thus, if the spouse dies and the retired teacher is eligible for a $2,000 survivor benefit from Social Security, that teacher would receive none of it because the $4,000 would eat into all of it.
    • Very few married people who retire with a pension from MTRS will receive anything from their spouse’s Social Security.

Are There Any Workarounds?

There is a workaround for the Windfall Elimination Provision. Any public employee in Massachusetts with 30 or more years of ‘substantial earnings’ in a job where they paid into Social Security will receive their full benefits. In fact, after 25 years of such substantial earnings, any reduction in Social Security benefits begins to shrink.

403b Advisor in Massachusetts

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