teachers may be considering retirement this year, possibly earlier than
they had planned. There are several points to be aware of if you are
thinking about changing your retirement plans, including leaving
- If you want to retire mid-year, you must complete the full fall
semester or 90 days, whichever is less, to receive a year of TRS credit.
(An employee who is leaving mid-year but not retiring must work 90 days
to get credit — the “full semester” rule applies only to those who are
working their final year before retiring.) To receive credit for the
full semester, it is fine to take paid leave, but you must not have any
docked days. If you have docked days you will not be considered to have
worked the full semester and you will need to have at least 90 days of
service credit after Sept. 1 to obtain the year of TRS service credit.
- Anyone considering retiring mid-year due to the pandemic should be
aware that the “full semester” dates will change if the district changes
its schedule. For example, if a district closes down for two weeks to
quarantine because of COVID-19 spread, it may revise the end date of the
fall semester. A potential retiree will need to adjust his/her
retirement date accordingly, as TRS will consider the new date to be the
end of the semester.
- Retiring without meeting your full standard retirement criteria can
carry substantial penalties, from a significantly reduced monthly check
to more expensive insurance coverage under TRS-Care if you are under age
65 — or even a loss of eligibility for TRS-Care if you don’t meet the
“Rule of 80” or have at least 30 years credit.
- Eligibility for retirement has gotten very complex. It depends on
several factors including your age, your date of entry into TRS, and
your years of service, so don’t count on the “teacher grapevine” for
accurate information. The safest method for determining whether you’re
eligible and whether it’s the right move for you is to speak directly to a TRS benefits counselor at 800-223-8778.
- Even if you are eligible for normal, unreduced retirement benefits,
be sure that you can afford your preferred standard of living on the
pension check you would receive now. There is no guarantee that your
monthly amount will increase in the near future (or ever), most school
employees will either receive reduced Social Security benefits or none
at all, and the cost of health insurance continues to rise.
For retirement-related questions about your specific situation, you
can reach a TRS benefits counselor at 800-223-8778. You can also access
your TRS account directly through the MyTRS portal on the agency’s website.