Paying for a New Kind of Performance

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Teachers in Texas were cleaning their classrooms with new fervor this June. The desire to scrub was due to a Social Security loophole scheduled to close on July 1. Under the old guidelines, any married adult could receive full spousal benefits from Social Security if they spent their final day before retirement in a job that qualifies for Social Security benefits. Since teachers don't generally qualify for social security, the prospect of essentially getting two pensions was too good to turn down.

In the last two years, 3,200 teachers in Texas have taken up a mop and broom for a day with their districts' full cooperation. The district accepted end-of-year resignations from teachers only to rehire them for one-day stints as janitors. A nice gesture…in an expensive and unethical kind of way. With 2,300 state and local retirement plans offered nationwide, auditors believe Texans are not alone in their double-dipping. The estimated national cost of this thoroughly scrubbed loophole – $450 million.