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From Rewards To Retirement: What Benefits Do Teachers Get?

Updated: Feb 29



what benefits teachers get

Education is one of the most necessary industries in the world.


As educators, you should be supported and taken care of during and after your service. While you should get paid more, there are perks to being a teacher in the form of benefits.


Do teachers even get good benefits that improve wellness and finances?


Yes! And teacher’s unions are constantly fighting to get more and even better benefits for our country’s teachers.


Find out what benefits teachers get and learn how to get the most benefit out of your teacher benefits.


Table of Contents

What Type of Benefits Do Teachers Get?


The average benefits teachers get may be:

  • Plenty of time off including summers, holiday breaks, and weekends

  • Health insurance that includes vision and dental

  • Life insurance

  • Parental leave

  • Financial support after retirement

The 12 Most Common Benefits for Teachers


Note that these benefits may vary from state to state and/or district to district. Check with your district's policy and review your contract for more information.


#1: PTO


On average, teachers get three personal days and ten sick days a year. These days usually roll over. This means veteran teachers tend to collect the most unused PTO days.


This paid time off does not include school breaks or summer vacation.


Some districts might pay teachers for their unused PTO days once they retire. This means some teachers, with plenty of unused PTO, are sitting on a lump of potential earnings.


If you don’t use any of your 13 PTO days per year and work in education for 20 years, that’s 260 days of unused PTO. Depending on your daily pay rate, this amount could be thousands of dollars.


But why wait until you’re retired to access this money?


Sorbet lets you tap into this cache of potential cash early. So why wait to do what you want with your money? Advance your unused PTO today with Sorbet.


#2: Health Insurance


Teachers receive health insurance year-round, despite working less than 10 months a year. They also are far more likely to receive health insurance beyond retirement than people receiving health insurance from the private sector.


Coverage and plans are handled at a local level, so what you will be offered may vary from district to district. You may also get a choice in the coverage options whether you want your employer-provided health insurance to cover solely you or your spouse/children.


Most health insurance plans for teachers should cover:

  • Primary care visitation

  • Hospitalization

  • Prenatal and postnatal care

  • Immunization

  • Prescription drugs

  • Mental health care to

It is your choice if you would like to accept your employer-provided health insurance or provide your own. Like most employer-provided health insurance plans, you will make a small contribution out of your pay and your employer will pay a significant portion of your premium.

On average, teachers receive a subsidy toward their healthcare that amounts to roughly $6,168 a year. This is nearly $1,000 more than the average private-sector employee receives.


Other types of healthcare-related teacher benefits may include vision or dental as a part of the healthcare package. The National Education Association (NEA) also provides health care plans for its members.


#3: Vision Insurance


Most districts offer vision insurance as a part of teacher healthcare benefits.

Depending on your plan, your vision insurance may cover:

  • Eyeglasses including lenses and frames

  • Contact lenses

  • Vision tests

  • Eye exams

  • Eyeglass lens protection and enhancements

You are allowed to opt out of the vision insurance provided by your employer if your vision care provider is not in your provider network.


#4: Dental Insurance


Most school districts offer dental insurance plans to their teachers. Plan coverage may vary.

Depending on what plan you may be offered, your dental insurance may cover:

  • Routine exams

  • Teeth cleanings

  • Preventative care

Like a standard employer-provided health insurance or vision insurance policy, you can opt out if you choose to do so.


#5: Life Insurance


Districts typically offer teachers life insurance plans. If your employer has the district enrolled in a group plan, you may pay little to no cost. Plans and options for life insurance that your employer might provide could vary depending on your district and state.


How much your life insurance will pay out could depend on your salary.


Some employers provide their teachers with whole coverage for their life insurance policy. This covers those insured for the rest of their lives. If you have been enrolled in a group life insurance plan, your coverage may only apply while you work for the employer providing your life insurance.


Teachers also have the option of obtaining life insurance through their National Education Association (NEA) membership if they have one.


#6: Parental Leave


Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), educators are qualified for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. However, many teachers cannot afford unpaid leave.


Despite public school teachers being government employees, there is no federal mandate granting teachers paid parental leave.


Some teachers are allowed paid parental leave. The amount of parental leave a teacher would be allowed may vary from state to state or district to district.


The National Council on Teacher Quality analyzed parental leave policies in schools in 148 of the largest districts in the United States. Out of those districts, only 18% offered full or partially paid parental leave.


Unused PTO may be used to supplement maternal and paternal leave.


#7: Holidays


As a teacher, you get all federal holidays off!


Holidays to look forward to during the school year include:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  • Presidents Day

  • Memorial Day

  • Labor Day

  • Thanksgiving

  • Christmas

  • New Year’s Eve and Day

And let’s not forget all the breaks during the school year and summer! Most schools stay in session for about 180 days or 39 weeks. This gives you plenty of time to go on vacation when school is out and get the most out of your summer with vacation days.


Sorbet can help you take advantage of your unused PTO earnings. So why not take that much-deserved vacay during school breaks?


#8: 401(k)


Generally, public school teachers are not provided a 401(k). Some private school sectors may offer it to their teachers.


If you are a public school teacher and would like to invest in more than just your pension, you can:

  1. Opt for a 457(b) plan

  2. Opt for a 403(b) plan

Both plans are supplemental retirement options for government employees. The main difference in either plan is the pre-tax contribution limits for investors under 50. As of 2022, the annual pre-tax limit of both plans is $20,500 with one exception. With the 403(b) plan, individuals can invest up to $60,000 a year.


#9: Pension


Pensions are generally provided for most teachers. You may be required to make a contribution out of each paycheck or pay period that your employer will match. Some states may also contribute to your pension.


How substantial your pension will be may depend on:

  • Years of service

  • How much you contribute

  • How much your employer contributes

  • How much your state contributes

  • Age of retirement

  • Final average salary

Some states require districts to take these factors and plug them into a pension formula.


For example, Missouri calculates pension by multiplying a teacher’s final salary by 2.5% and then multiplying it by years of service. So if your final salary before retirement is $65,000 and you taught at the same school for 30 years, your pension would be $48,750 a year or $4,065.50 a month. Pensions are taxed.


Your school district may require you to fulfill a minimum of years of service before you qualify for a pension.


#10: Opportunities to Earn Money from Leading Extracurricular Activities


As a teacher, there are multiple opportunities you can seek to earn more!


Opportunities you might have as a teacher that could earn you more money may be:

  • Coaching an athletic team

  • Mentoring other teachers

  • Lead a school-sponsored club or activity

  • Teaching evening classes

  • Teaching AP classes

  • Teaching summer school

#11: Social Security


Some states opt out of social security benefits for employees in the public sector. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, out of more than three million public school teachers — only 40% are eligible for Social Security benefits after retirement.


The following states have opted out of providing social security benefits for teachers:

  • Alaska

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Illinois

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • Missouri

  • Nevada

  • Ohio

  • Texas

The following states provide social security benefits for part-time teachers only:

  • Georgia

  • Kentucky

  • Rhode Island

If your state has opted out of providing teachers social security benefits, you do not have to pay into social security via taxes. This does not mean that teachers in the above-mentioned states receive no retirement benefits at all. If a state opts out of providing public sector employees with social security, they must provide a pension.


#12: Retirement


The median age at which most teachers retire is 59-61 years old. Some states require a certain number of service years before retirement and some states go by age. Check with your state to see what minimums are required for retirement.


Consider these factors when planning for retirement:

  • Your age

  • When you plan to retire

  • Your risk tolerance when investing

Retirement benefits teachers may receive post-service might be:

  • Pension

  • Social security

  • 403(b) plan

  • 457(b) plan

  • Severance in the form of unused PTO pay

Some school districts may continue to provide healthcare benefits and life insurance after a teacher retires.


How Teachers Can Unlock the Power of Their PTO With Sorbet


Oh, you’re going to do that on a teacher’s salary?”


Yes, yes you are, because you now know the potential of earning your unused PTO before retirement.


We’re Sorbet and we’ll tell you: it's your money, and we want you to have it when you need it.


So go on that vacation. Add a few more guests to your wedding. Increase your down payment budget and buy that dream house.


Here’s how:

  1. Calculate the value of your unused PTO​. Find out what your PTO is worth in just a few clicks!

  2. Apply in minutes. Applying is easy and risk-free. No credit check. No commitment. You can change your mind at any time during the application process — no strings attached!

  3. Get paid! Get your money straight in your bank account within just 1-5 business days, and pay us back just a small monthly payment and the rest when you leave your company. It's that simple!

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