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At our recent NJREA Executive Committee Meeting there were a number of questions and issues brought up regarding the membership status of NJREA members returning to the classroom under the new law.  I ran them by Jamie Valent, Membership Director, below are his responses in red:

1. The NJREA member will have to pay active dues if they return to a full-time open teaching position, right?Correct, they must join at the highest level for which they are eligible.  This does not apply for long term subs or any substitution to which the teacher is expected to return, right?  This would depend on how the sub is hired.  If the substitute is covering a position covered under the unit and either a) being paid on the guide, or b) being paid a daily rate that is calculated from the guide, then they must also join and pay active dues.

2.  The NJREA must pause their membership in NJREA if they are a lifetime member, and cannot renew if they are an annual member while they are teaching in this full-time position, not substituting, right?  Consequently-if a member has already paid for their lifetime membership, it will be paused until they go back to retired status.  If they are annual, they cannot be pre-retired NJREA annual members and they cannot renew their annual dues until they return to retired status.  a.  If they hold an NJREA leadership position they would have to step down.  This would be dependent on NJREA leadership as your Constitution and Bylaws does not directly address pre-retired life members holding office.  b.  If they were elected to be a delegate at an NEA-R they would have to step down.  This would be a question for your NJREA leadership and Gary Melton.  c.  They would relinquish their NJREA voting rights.  As we only process one voting code per member based on their highest level of membership, we would not send the NJREA ballot that is provided by NJREA and the CREA’s.  d.   They would not be able to participate at NJREA or CREA events.    Pre-retired lifetime members are allowed to participate in events

3.  Pre-Retired Lifetime members can vote on NJREA elections, right?  It says in our handbook they are eligible to vote in the CREA’s they belong but can they also vote for NJREA leadership?  If so, do they return to work NJREA members have the same voting rights?  As per the answer above, we generate one ballot code per person at the highest level of membership that they qualify for – regarding voting on NJREA or CREA officer positions that should be reviewed by NJREA leadership and Gary Melton.

4.  We have made available the pension ramifications for returning to work for a retiree but we have looked into if it could negatively impact their Social Security Benefits?  For instance, I believe it used to be that if you collected your SS at prior to age 70 that you could be subjected to a penalty if your income exceeded a certain amount.  When I retired it was $14, 000 a year but do not think it has been increased to $18,000 a year and the age has been dropped to 67.    Is that possible penalty also waived under the new law?  I wouldn’t think so because Social Security is federal and our pension is state.  This would be a question for Research.

There may be future issues or questions that arise on this topic but these are some that have surfaced to date.  Perhaps we need to create a fact sheet that delineates these additional issues to accompany the existing fact sheet on the new law so NJREA members will know the full extent of changes or consequences they could incur if they return to a full-time teaching position.

Jamie, thank you so much for your help on this and for everything else you do for NJREA and its members.

Fran Davis—NJREA Membership Chair