Why don’t teachers receive Social Security benefits?

When Social Security was enacted in 1935, it covered only private-sector workers – no public employees. In the 1950s, however, Congress acted to extend Social Security to state and local government employees. States were given the choice of opting out of the system, and Kentucky chose to do that for participation by teachers while including other public employees in the Social Security system. Kentucky was not alone in making this decision; teachers in 14 other states and the District of Columbia (about 40% of all public K-12 teachers in the nation) also do not pay into or receive benefits from Social Security, according to TeacherPensions.org. (Apparently there was some thought at the time that states could provide better coverage through state pension plans alone.) To compensate for the lack of Social Security coverage, retirement benefits for Kentucky teachers are higher than benefits for other public employees who are paid a similar salary.