How Many Public Workers without Social Security Could Fall Short?

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The brief’s key findings are:

  • About 5 million state and local workers are not covered by Social Security on their current job.
  • The law requires that their pension plans provide a benefit equal to what they would have received upon retirement if they were covered by Social Security.
  • While all plans meet the letter of the law, a prior study found that 43 percent of them do not provide lifetime benefits equal to Social Security for some workers.
  • The workers who lose out are those who leave in mid-career, as their pensions are based on wages when they depart, whose real value erodes over time.
  • This new study finds that this group accounts for about 17 percent of current noncovered workers, so hundreds of thousands could fall short.

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