There have been so many changes — and rumored changes — to TRS benefits that many of our members are justifiably confused about what exactly is in current law. Our first piece of advice: take anything you hear in the teacher's lounge with a grain of salt! Here are answers to some common questions we receive at TCTA headquarters.
The majority of current school employees can still retire under a Rule of 80 (age plus years of TRS credit total at least 80), with no age restrictions.
If one of these exceptions applies to you, you can still retire upon meeting the Rule of 80, but if you are under age 60 or 62, as applicable, your benefit will be reduced by 5 percent for each year under the relevant age. For example, if you fall under the “minimum age 60” exception, and you retire at age 58, your benefit will be reduced by 10 percent.
If you had at least five years of TRS credit by Aug. 31, 2014, and you entered TRS-covered service prior to Sept. 1, 2007, you only have to meet the Rule of 80 for full retirement benefits, regardless of your age.
RULE OF 90
THERE IS NO RULE OF 90 FOR FULL RETIREMENT. This is a very commonly believed provision, but no employee has to meet a Rule of 90 for standard retirement benefits.
You may need to meet a Rule of 90 only for a very specific benefit — the Partial Lump Sum Option, under which you can receive a portion of your retirement benefit in a lump sum, with a lowered monthly benefit. For “regular” retirement, the Rule of 80 is still the prevailing law. And if, as of Aug. 31, 2005, you were at least age 50, had at least 25 years of service credit, OR met a Rule of 70, you can take the PLSO without having to meet the Rule of 90.
First, the basic requirements for TRS-Care eligibility are that you must have at least 10 years of TRS credit (not including purchased credit other than military service credit), and either meet the Rule of 80 at retirement or have at least 30 years of TRS credit.
If you are retired and under age 65 (and meet the other criteria) you may enroll in TRS-Care Standard; eligible retirees over age 65 can enroll in TRS-Care Medicare Advantage.
There have been a lot of changes to retire/rehire lately. What do I need to know?
The most recent changes to the laws regarding employment after retirement - and they were significant - were made in the 2021 legislative session. Check our list of final bill summaries under the category of "Teacher Retirement System" for information, and watch for our updated Survival Guide, available in Fall of 2021, or call a TRS benefits counselor at 800-223-8778.
I've heard about deadlines for buying service credit, can you explain?
There are key deadlines for purchasing service credit, and many employees have lost the opportunity to get earned credit by missing those deadlines. This typically happens with service or compensation that should have been reported to TRS but was not, or for substitute service that exceeds 90 days within a school year. It is very important to check your service record with TRS to make sure that you have properly received all credit; if any is missing, you must have your employer verify the information within five years after the school year in which the service was performed.