Several bills passed in the 2021 legislative session changed provisions regarding employment with a TRS-participating employer after retirement. In general, retirees can return to work full time after a complete break in TRS-covered employment (substitute service counts as “employment” for this purpose as do some types of volunteer work) of at least 12 consecutive months without jeopardizing their monthly TRS checks. An employee working at a school in any capacity, paid or unpaid, during the 12 months after retirement should contact TRS regarding their eligibility to return to work.
A retiree can return to work up to half-time or as a substitute after only a one-calendar-month break in service without penalty (a disability retiree returning half-time or as a substitute may work no more than 90 days in the school year). Per a new TRS rule effective Nov. 1, 2021, “half-time” is defined as up to 92 hours or 11 days in a calendar month.
In accordance with new legislation, an employee who retired prior to Jan. 1, 2021, can return to work full time with no loss of monthly TRS checks, even if the employee did not sit out 12 months before returning to work.
Other new bills provide that the restrictions on employment after retirement do not apply to (1) retirees returning to work in positions through Dec. 31, 2024, solely paid by federal funds for the purpose of mitigating COVID-19 related student learning loss; or (2) retired teachers returning in a tutoring program facilitated by a nonprofit teacher organization.
Districts must make contributions to TRS (16% of salary for the 2022-23 school year) and TRS-Care (an amount set by TRS at $535 per month, due only on retirees participating in TRS-Care) on behalf of a rehired retiree. Pursuant to legislation initiated by TCTA, this surcharge is not required for employees who retired prior to Sept. 1, 2005. A new provision exempts districts hiring a retiree for federally funded positions related to mitigating COVID-19 learning loss from paying the surcharges.
Recent legislation provides that an employer cannot directly or indirectly pass the surcharge costs on to the retiree by any means designed to recover the costs.
A district participating in TRS-ActiveCare may be required to offer ActiveCare enrollment to a returning retiree, but the retiree may opt to remain in TRS-Care.
The laws governing employment after retirement have been eased under recent legislation, but there are important details that retirees must be aware of before making the decision to return to work. We strongly advise consulting with a benefits counselor at TRS (800-223-8778).