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Setting the Record Straight on Fire Fighters and Social Security

Followers of the @IAFFNEWSDESK on Twitter raised a great conversation recently about why most fire fighters aren’t covered by Social Security.

We wanted to address the issue for IAFF members and to continue to stress the importance of why fire fighter pensions must be protected as politicians try to demonize public employees for what they have rightfully earned.

When social security was established in 1935, public employees weren’t included. In the 1950s, state and local governments were given an option to join the system. However, many fire departments were legally barred from electing Social Security coverage until 1994.

Local governments stepped in to create pension systems for fire fighters to help address their retirement needs.

As a result, an estimated 75 percent of all fire fighters are covered by pension plans that are independent of social security.

Let us be clear….  A majority of fire fighters AREN’T enrolled in the social security system and CAN NOT count on that money for retirement.

IAFF members in cities like Central Falls, Rhode Island know how devastating it is for a state to break its promise to employees.

As more labor attacks arise, our members are seeing that more municipalities are willing to break their word.

Medicare coverage became mandatory for public employees hired or rehired after March 31, 1986.

The IAFF is opposed to mandatory social security coverage because it would jeopardize the specialized retirement systems for fire fighters.

The IAFF will continue to work with congressional leaders to preserve independent retirement systems outside of the Social Security system.

There is no worse injustice for a fire fighter who has worked his or her entire life to pay into a pension system for retirement and have it be threatened by greedy politicians.

If you want information on how well your state’s pension system is doing visit the IAFF’s Fighting Back website for factsheets and other resources.

Comments (1) -

  • David Wordekemper (Fremont)

    2/9/2012 8:46:19 PM |

    I understand that fire fighters don't pay into social security and therefore may not be elgible to receive benefits. In my senerio I have a defined contribution plan opposed to a defined benefit meaning I'm not guarenteed anything when I retire becuase it is basically a 401K plan. Lets say I get hired at age 28 and work until I'm age 55 and I am eligible to retire and I have only $200,000 in my retirement account becuase it is based on how the market and investments have done over my career. If I get a private sector job (paying into social security)at age 50 and work until I am in my 60's why should I not be able to draw social security. Just because I was a Fire Fighter at one time does not mean I'm guarenteed a retirement benefit for the rest of my life. Prior to getting hired on the fire department I paid into social security for 12 years. Brother and Sister Fire Fighters keep fighting for your defined benefit pension because I believe it might be better than my senario.  

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