Blog

16 Aug 2019
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Local Unit Meetings Happening, Find Yours Today and Join the Fall Bring a Friend Contest!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) consists of 254 local units. These local units are the backbone of the organization and provide a great outlet to connect with your fellow retired educators.

Local units are holding their fall meetings, and you can find yours today by using the new TRTA local unit meeting calendar. TRTA’s Executive Director, Tim Lee, is engaging in many of these meetings, and you can view his calendar here. Many local units are also inviting their legislators to fall meetings.

VIEW THE CALENDAR

To use the calendar, find your local under the organizer dropdown. From there, your local’s meetings will load. You can jump from one meeting to the next by clicking on the next month on the calendar. Dates that feature a blue dot have an event. You can view an event’s details by clicking on the date of the event and on the event itself.

If you haven’t seen it already, Tim Lee hosted a Facebook Live event recently where he spoke about the importance of local units. If you are not a member of a local unit, you can find one in your area here.

WATCH TIM LEE’S FACEBOOK LIVE

TRTA Fall Bring A Friend Contest

This month, TRTA launched the Fall Bring a Friend contest, just in time for local unit meetings! You and your friend could each win $100 and help TRTA reach 100,000 members!

Current TRTA members will get a new friend or colleague to join TRTA and you will both be entered to win a $100 gift card! If you win, your friend wins too! In total, three pairs of TRTA friends will win. The contest continues through November 15, 2019.

Read all the details and learn how to submit a contest entry here!

Join the TRTA 100K Challenge and Bring a Friend to TRTA Today! #TRTA100K #100KSTRONG #100KCHALLENGE #BRINGAFRIENDTOTRTA

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. TRTA’s local units are the biggest reason why TRTA has grown into the largest retired educator association in the nation. If you’re interested in learning more about your local unit, you can do so by visiting the local unit’s website.

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12 Aug 2019
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Rep. Kevin Brady Holds Town Hall Meeting to Discuss WEP Reform

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is a 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.

Progress on reforming the WEP has been slow and arduous ever since it was since enacted in 1983. Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) has made significant headway on the issue over the past few years. His latest bill proposal is H.R. 3934. He held a town hall meeting today, August 12, in Montgomery, Texas discussing the issue.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been one of the primary advocates in seeking reform for the WEP. TRTA has worked closely with Brady over the years to provide feedback and testimony on the WEP.

The WEP reduces the amount of Social Security public servants receive by using an arbitrary formula to reduce their earned benefits. The WEP provides a means of eliminating the “windfall” of Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries who also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security.

Approximately 85 stakeholders attended the meeting, which quickly became a standing-room-only venue. Brady laid out his plan for reforming the WEP, which includes working with Rep. Richard Neal (D – Massachusetts). Neal serves as the Chairman for the congressional House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Social Security issues.

Brady also fielded questions regarding his bill and the WEP. He encouraged stakeholders to contact their congressmen about the issue. You can find out who represents you here. You can view the bill’s current cosponsors here. In addition to receiving support in the U.S. House of Representatives, Brady mentioned that both Senators John Cornyn (R – Texas) and Ted Cruz (R – Texas) have signaled their support for WEP reform.

While most Texas educators pay into TRS as their sole form of retirement, many others have paid into both TRS and Social Security, and these educators have their Social Security cut by an arbitrary amount. The WEP has significant impact on their retirement income, and many retired educators impacted are caught off-guard when they receive their Social Security check.

The next step for Brady is to confer with Neal on the bill structure. Additionally, Brady will be seeking the buy-in of all stakeholder groups, including the national firefighters’ group, many of which also have thousands of members impacted by the WEP.

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19 Jul 2019
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TRS Board of Trustees Meets, Announces 13th Check to Be Delivered in September

The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Board of Trustees met on July 18 and 19, 2019. The board reviewed the bills passed during the 86th Texas Legislative session.

The board praised the increased contribution rates from the state and approved the 13th check retirees will be receiving in September, which is capped at $2,000. It will be the first 13th check retirees have received since 2007. Sen. Joan Huffman (R – Houston) released this press release on the 13th check.

TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie reviewed the primary funding bills, HB1 and SB12, that were passed during the legislative session as they related to TRS.

He discussed how the state was using a stair-step approach to increase its contributions to TRS from 6.8 percent to 8.25 percent by 2024. When that occurs, the state will be putting in the same rate as TRS members into the pension fund.

In total, the state is contributing an additional $1.113 billion for this biennium to TRS for contributions to the pension plan and supplemental payments to retirees.

The guarantee of a 13th check is useful for retirees, as Guthrie stated, because while TRS is currently actuarially sound, it might not remain in that state. TRS is currently slated to pay off its unfunded liabilities in 29 years, but that number could slip to 31 years or more by the time the board meets again in November. Guthrie said that this potential change is due to the stock market’s volatility.

The TRS Board Chairman, Jarvis Hollingsworth, said it was “just an outstanding session,” and described it as a “great day” for TRS.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) also participated in the board meeting. TRTA’s President Patricia Macias provided public comment. She stated that while the work done by the Legislature is commendable, there will be more to accomplish going into the future.

“TRTA is proud of our work with the committed stakeholders who helped achieve these goals and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that future Legislatures remain committed to the work accomplished during the 86th Legislative Session,” she said.

While the 13th check and increased funding into TRS is great news for retirees, TRS-Care, the health care program for retirees, is facing a massive shortfall coming into the next session. The shortfall is projected to be approximately $1 billion. TRTA will need the full force of its membership involved as we push towards a more sustainable solution for the continuous TRS-Care shortfalls. Additionally, more work will need to be done to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees.

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