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27 Sep 2019
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New WEP Reform Bill Filed, HR 4540

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is a staunch advocate for reforming the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP is an unfair Social Security issue that negatively impacts thousands of retired educators nationwide, including educators that have paid into the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) as well as Social Security.

TRTA and its national partners are working closely with Representatives Kevin Brady (R The Woodlands, Texas) and Richard Neal (D Massachusetts) to file legislation that will create a fairer formula for retirees. 

Today, Richard Neal filed HR 4540, a bill that proposes to fix the WEP for future retirees and provide meaningful relief to current WEP retirees. 

HR 4540 would replace the current WEP formula with a fairer version that will pay Social Security benefits in proportion to the share of a workers earnings that were covered for Social Security purposes. Congressman Neal’s version of WEP reform couples this fairness provision with an additional benefit guarantee ensuring no benefit cuts relative to current law for all current and future retirees.

TRTA is studying this provision, but since most Texas retirees are worse off under the current WEP formula, we are anxious to see the fairness formula advanced as quickly as possible.

The Neal bill improves the benefits of current retirees impacted by the WEP. If the bill passes, current WEP retirees will receive $150 per month in relief payments.

Previously, Kevin Brady filed HR 3934. Similar to Neals bill, HR 3934 proposes to replace the WEP with a formula equalizing benefits.While Brady and Neal have filed separate bills, both are dedicated to seeing retirees receive fairer share of their earned benefits.

TRTA’s Executive Director Tim Lee will be meeting with the representatives on Monday to discuss the bills and WEP reform.

TRTA is committed to fairness and reforming the WEP. Public employees deserve much needed relief on this unfair provision. Stay tuned to the Inside Line as we provide updates on how you can get involved to reform the WEP!

Medicare Double-Billing Issue in September

TRTA has received reports from several members that Medicare may have double-charged some Medicare beneficiaries who are signed up for automated payments through Easy Pay.

Because the error is related to the premium you pay for Medicare coverage, TRS is unable to resolve this billing issue.

Per TRS, if you are concerned that you have been overcharged, you can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. For more information, please visit this link.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association exists to protect your TRS retirement and fights to make it better. Please consider becoming a member and joining the largest community of TRS retirees in the nation.

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20 Sep 2019
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TRS Holds Board Meeting, Addresses New Building Lease

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) is holding its fall Board of Trustees meeting. During the meeting, TRS addressed its new building lease, which has drawn scrutiny from retirees this week.

As reported by the Austin-American Statesman, TRS is going to lease three floors, which is more than 100,000 square feet, starting in 2021 from a new building in downtown Austin, the Indeed Tower.

The new building will host the TRS investment division. The investment division is comprised of 174 employees. TRS isn’t releasing the amount of money it’s spending to lease the space.

TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie addressed the new lease during the board meeting on Sept. 19. Guthrie said that the investment staff has outgrown its current space, and TRS is working on a generational change to find space that will fill its needs for years to come.

According to Guthrie, TRS was able to procure a good deal on the lease space, because it started early in the process. However, TRS isn’t going to release the details of the lease because of competitive concerns. He said the price is comparable to the location where the investment team is currently located. Guthrie said TRS would disclose the amount they are paying for the lease sometime in the future.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Executive Director Tim Lee also discussed the new lease during his public testimony today. He thanked Guthrie for his perspective on the lease.

Lee said that members have concerns about TRS using the pension fund money on what appear to be extravagant purchases.

Lee said that many members are in desperate need of a cost-of-living increase and that it’s getting harder to pay for everyday expenses. He said that the perception of TRS purchasing a new space for its investment staff using the pension funds makes for a poor perception to members.

However, Lee emphasized that members also feel it is important that TRS has what it needs to operate. Lee implored the Board of Trustees to find ways to communicate with members about what is happening with the trust fund money to help them understand how it benefits the system and the members themselves. Retirees want to be sure the system is “acting prudently to invest the money and acting prudently to spend it and not in ways that may appear to be extravagant.”

It is important to note that TRS administrative costs per member are the lowest in the country by a very large margin. Because TRS performs most of its investing in-house instead of hiring financial investment firms which charge very high fees, TRS is able to divert funds to pay TRS investment staff and house the staff in professional office buildings, ultimately saving significant amounts of money over time.

Our members should also be aware that TRS, as a state agency, is subject to sunset review during the next legislative session. This review is required of all state agencies every twelve years and requires TRS to justify every dollar, policy and program. TRTA will be heavily involved in the study, working with the Sunset Commission (an agency that reports directly to the Legislature on every state agency) and testifying in public. Administrative expenditures, along with many other issues, will be subjects of that review.

This was a busy meeting for the TRS Board of Trustees. They discussed a wide range of issues such as the unfunded liability and TRS-Care. TRTA will be reporting on these issues in the coming weeks.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association exists to protect your TRS retirement and fights to make it better. Please consider becoming a member and joining the largest community of TRS retirees in the nation.

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12 Sep 2019
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TRS to Host Fall Information Sessions About TRS-Care Beginning October 1

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will once again host information sessions across the state this fall about the retiree health insurance programs, TRS-Care and TRS-Care Medicare Advantage.

Per TRS, information will be provided by the state agency, as well as Humana, Aetna, CVS Caremark and SilverScript. Beginning October 1, 2019, TRS will conduct 23 in-person sessions and three webinars. For the in-person sessions, the attendee may choose between either a morning or an afternoon session. Please bear in mind there are separate sessions for Medicare and Non-Medicare participants.

The session agendas will include a new guest speaker feature with a representative discussing “Healthy Aging in Retirement.” Also included on the agendas are Q&A sessions with TRS, Humana, Aetna, and CVS Caremark, updates about 2020 benefit enhancements to TRS-Care, and “ways to get the most value out of your health care dollars.”

How to Register

TRS is mailing invitations to retirees this month that include instructions for registering for the meetings. To register for an in-person session, please call 1-800-850-1992 (TTY: 711), Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Central Time. If you’re unable to attend a session in person, you may view a webinar instead.

Click here to check out the meeting locations and to find the meeting closest to you!You may also view the schedules below. 

In-Person Meetings Schedule/Locations

All sessions are Central time, except for El Paso, which is Mountain time.

Central Texas
Date City Location Address
Oct. 8 Round Rock United Heritage Center (Conference Center) 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, TX 78665

 

East Texas
Date City Location Address
Oct. 16 Tyler Courtyard by Marriot Tyler, Hollytree Room 7424 South Broadway Avenue, Tyler, TX 75703

 

Houston Metro Area
Date City Location Address
Oct. 15 Houston (NE) Sheraton North Houston at George Bush Intercontinental, Stephen F. Austin Ballroom 15700 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Houston, TX 77032
Oct. 16 Houston (SE) Hilton Garden Inn NASA Clear Lake, The Grand Ballroom, includes Orchid Room, Marigold Room and Hibiscus Room 750 West Texas Ave, Webster, Texas 77598

 

North Texas
Date City Location Address
Oct. 1 Fort Worth Radisson Hotel Fort Worth North-Fossil Creek, Meacham Flatiron Room 2540 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76106
Oct. 15 Plano Plano Event Center, Collinwood 2 & 3 2000 E Spring Creek Pkwy., Plano, TX 75074
Oct. 17 Mesquite Mesquite Convention Center, Salons C & D 1700 Rodeo Dr., Mesquite, TX 75149

 

South Texas
Date City Location Address
Oct. 9 San Antonio Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio NW I-10, Ballroom 7750 Briaridge, San Antonio, TX 78230
Oct. 10 Corpus Christi (AM only) Emerald Beach Hotel, Two sections of Ballroom 1102 South Shoreline Boulevard, Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Oct. 11 Harlingen Harlingen Convention Center, Kiskidee A & B 701 Harlingen Heights Drive, Harlingen, TX 78552

 

West Texas
Date City Location Address
Oct. 2 Abilene (AM only) MCM Eleganté Suites, Baja & Acapulco Rooms 4250 Ridgemont Drive, Abilene, TX 79606
Oct. 3 Lubbock MCM Eleganté Hotel and Suites, Petroleum Room 801 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79401
Oct. 17 El Paso (Mountain Time) Radisson Hotel (Venetian Grand Ballroom & Atrium) 1770 Airway Blvd., El Paso, TX 79925

 

Webinars Schedule 

Schedule & Registration
Participants Date and Time Register Here
Medicare participants Oct. 4, 10:00 a.m. Register for the Oct. 4 webinar (Medicare participants)
Oct. 14, 10:00 a.m. Register for the Oct. 14 webinar (Medicare participants)
Non-Medicare participants Oct 4, 2:00 p.m. Register for the Oct 4 webinar
(Non-Medicare participants)

 

Overview of In-Person Events

(Choose between a morning or an afternoon session on your preferred date) 

TRS-CARE MEDICAREPARTICIPANTS
Morning Session
10:30 – 10:50 a.m. Guest Speaker
10:50 – 11:00 a.m. TRS – Opening for Medicare participants
11:00 – 11:15 a.m. Humana – TRS-Care Medicare Advantage (medical)
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. SilverScript – TRS-Care Medicare Rx (prescription)
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Q&A Session
Afternoon Session
3:00 – 3:20 p.m. Guest Speaker
3:20 – 3:30 p.m. TRS – Opening for Medicare participants
3:30 – 3:45 p.m. Humana – TRS-Care Medicare Advantage (medical)
3:45 – 4:00 p.m. SilverScript – TRS-Care Medicare Rx (prescription)
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Q&A Session

 

TRS-CARE STANDARD (NON-MEDICARE) PARTICIPANTS
Morning Session
9:00 – 9:10 a.m. TRS – Opening for participants without Medicare
9:10 – 9:25 a.m. Aetna – TRS-Care Standard (medical)
9:25 – 9:40 a.m. CVS Caremark – TRS-Care Standard (prescription)
9:40 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Q&A Session
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. Guest Speaker
Afternoon Session
1:30 – 1:40 p.m. TRS – Opening for participants without Medicare
1:40 – 1:55 p.m. Aetna – TRS-Care Standard (medical)
1:55 – 2:10 p.m. CVS Caremark – TRS-Care Standard (prescription)
2:10 – 2:40 p.m. Q&A Session
2:40 – 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 – 3:20 p.m. Guest Speaker

 

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