Colorado Teaching Salaries and Benefits

colorado

The benefits of living in Colorado are known throughout the country. With a culture focused on exercise and enjoying the outdoors, the state is one of the healthiest in the nation.

While Colorado's teachers may be healthy and fit, they still need ways of keeping medical costs down and within their means. To help them manage their care, Colorado offers teachers several health insurance options, giving them more control over their futures.

In addition to health insurance, teachers also earn pension benefits through their years of service. By offering teachers both retirement and health insurance benefits, Colorado cements its commitment to public educators.

Learn more about becoming a teacher. Contact schools offering teacher education/certification programs in Colorado.

Retiring in Colorado

In Colorado, most teachers belong to the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA). PERA was established in 1931 and serves more than 480,000 Colorado employees through a defined benefit plan.

Considering that the Colorado PERA distributed nearly $3 billion in benefits to public employees in 2011, this pension fund must be bolstered by both employer and employee contributions to remain sustainable.

Teachers contribute 8% of their monthly salaries to the PERA pension fund, while school districts contribute an additional 15.65% of their total employee payroll.

Public employers become eligible to receive benefits from PERA upon normal retirement. Normal retirement is based on a combination of age and years of experience:

  • At any age with 35 years of service
  • At 58 with 30 years of service
  • At 65 with any amount of service

In a defined benefit plan, teachers receive monthly benefits upon retirement based on a formula that combines their highest average salaries, age, and years of service. The formula is set by the Colorado legislature, and is subject to change.

Because the formula takes into account factors that vary based on your specific situation, the PERA offers a benefit calculator to estimate your monthly pension.

According to the PERA website, the average age of retirement through the system is 58.1, with 23.6 years of service. This calculates into an average monthly benefit of $2,966 for retired employees.

In addition to lifetime monthly pensions, PERA offers retired teachers survivor and disability benefits, life insurance policies, health insurance plans, and voluntary contribution funds like 401(k) packages.

Access to Affordable Health Insurance

Many school districts in Colorado provide teachers with health insurance plans specific to those districts. However, some schools choose to enroll in PERA's health insurance program known as PERACare.

PERACare is available to participating school districts and active, employed members of the retirement system. Currently, most Colorado schools have access to the PERACare system, though some of these schools might provide insurance plans separately. PERCare provides a list of participating PERA employers.

Employees are eligible for PERACare as long as they work at least 16 hours per week. PERACare offers a variety of different health, dental, and vision plans to teachers and their dependents in participating school districts. There are typically four coverage options available:

  • Employee only coverage
  • Employee plus spouse
  • Employee plus children
  • Employee plus family

By enrolling in the plan, your school district will help cover part of the cost, so you’ll pay a lower premium. These plans are provided by:

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • CIGNA Dental
  • Delta Dental
  • VSP (Vision)

Each plan provides different levels of coverage and costs, so check with your employing school district to learn more about the specifics of your health insurance plan. Some of the more commonly covered services include:

  • Medical Office Visits
  • Preventative Care
  • Mammogram Screening
  • Prenatal Care
  • Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Laboratory Diagnostics
  • Emergency Care
  • Mental Health Care

To learn more about PERACare and your health insurance options in Colorado, explore educational materials provided by PERACare.

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Terminology and Specifics

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