Blog

21 Aug
0

TRS Begins Distributing Information on New Healthcare Plans

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) decided on Feb. 21 to switch healthcare providers for participants in TRS-Care, the state-run health care program for public education retirees. Retirees under-65 will be receiving healthcare from BlueCross BlueShield. Retirees over-65 will be receiving healthcare from United Healthcare.

As a part of the transition to the new providers, TRS is distributing information about the plans. Expanded information is available on the TRS website and The Pulse newsletter regarding the changes, including a schedule of important dates and online access to providers in the UHC network.

The transition to new TRS-Care vendors (BCBS and UHC) takes place on January 1, 2021. TRS and the providers will be conducting educational seminars this fall to explain the changes and answer questions.

Be sure to stay connected to the Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Inside Line to receive updates on changes to TRS-Care. If you’re not yet a member, be sure to join! If you’re already a member, continue to support our work by renewing your membership!

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31 Jul
0

Sen. Joan Huffman Pens Letter to Texas Retired Educators: “Committed to Protecting Your Pension”

Sen. Joan Huffman serves on the Texas Senate Finance Committee and served as Chair of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee last session. Her work includes authoring Senate Bill 12 in 2019, which provided $1 billion in funding from the state into the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund. Today, she released a statement showing continued support for retirees through funding for the pension plan. Click the statement below to enlarge it.

On Twitter she said, “To all the @TRSofTexas retirees: I know that COVID-19 is causing lots of uncertainty, but rest assured that your TRS benefits are not changing due to the state of the markets, and your annuity payments are not at risk! See my statement below for details.”

“I want to reassure you that the Texas Legislature is continuously monitoring the TRS Pension Fund and its operations,” she said in her statement. “Let me be crystal clear: retiree benefits are not changing due to the state of the markets, and your annuity payments are not at risk.”

She goes on to say that she will continue to support the funding from the previous session, and that her goal is to “ensure that the pension fund remains stable for decades to come.”

Huffman’s statement comes in response to Scott Burns’ article in the Dallas Morning News. Burns’ article discusses the investment practices—and their benefits and downfalls—of the TRS pension fund.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) provided its response to Burns’ article here, and Tim Lee spoke about the article on Facebook Live with TRTA members and supporters on July 30.

TRTA and the Texas Legislature have worked diligently to provide meaningful, long-term and much-needed funding improvements to the TRS pension trust fund. TRTA supports these efforts as a way to ensure the fund’s long-term sustainability, and ultimately, to provide benefit increases to retirees.

TRTA will always work to protect your retirement security. We will also work with the TRS Board of Trustees to address member concerns like those raised by Burns’ article. Providing explantations and context to members on how the agency can address funding issues, including how they manage investment fees, assures TRS members their trust fund is being managed efficiently and effectively.

TRS takes its responsibility for providing retirees with a reliable monthly income very seriously, but the agency should explain its investment practices and how those choices ultimately impact its members’ bottom lines.

TRTA is extremely grateful to Sen. Huffman who has worked tirelessly on TRS issues. Her commitment to TRS and to communicating with TRTA members on these important matters is much appreciated. TRTA looks forward to working with Huffman on these issues in the coming session.

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30 Jul
0

TRTA In-Person Meetings Canceled Through December 31, 2020: What Happens Now?

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday, July 14 to impose a hold on all TRTA-affiliated in-person meetings across the state through the end of 2020. This includes all district fall conferences and local unit meetings, as well as smaller in-person gatherings such as district or local unit executive committee meetings.

The decision was not made lightly and was made for the concern of the health and safety of all members of TRTA. With the rising number of cases of coronavirus in Texas, the board decided the potential negative outcome of in-person meetings that may inadvertently result in a health crisis for any TRTA member is too great.

Tim Lee recorded a Facebook Live video discussing this decision as well as the recent Scott Burns article on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund. The Burns article discusses the investment practices—and their benefits and downfalls—of the TRS pension fund. TRTA’s response to the article is available here. TRTA supports the TRS investment team, but retirees have had concerns about the high external fees and staff bonuses for many years. TRTA is urging the TRS Board of Trustees to address Mr. Burns’ article and provide an explanation to members on how the agency will fix these problems.

While in-person meetings have been canceled, TRTA encourages districts and local units that are interested in doing so to continue meeting virtually when possible. Many TRTA districts and local units have reported to the state that they have been meeting virtually via Zoom videoconferencing services or other conference call services. If you’d like to learn more about Zoom, please refer to this email explainer or contact Roy Varney, roy@trta.org.

In addition to canceling all local and district in-person meetings through 2020, TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee and TRTA state officers will not be traveling for any in-person meetings. However, if you would like Tim Lee or a state officer to visit your local unit virtually this fall, please contact Shelby Click at shelby@trta.org.

TRTA knows not all units are able to meet virtually, and we encourage our members to remain safe and consider making phone calls, sending text messages, or emailing or mailing newsletters or cards to their members to check in on them.

What’s the Best Thing Our Members Can Do from Home This Fall? Get on the Phone!

We know that many of the events of this year have been discouraging, but now is not the time for TRTA members to give up!

The Texas Comptroller announced that the state will face a significant budget shortfall come next legislative session. Will this impact your pension fund and health care? It could. But this means we must enter the session stronger than ever!

While you are staying home and staying safe, please consider calling up your retired friends and colleagues and asking them to please join TRTA. We are still within reach of our goal of 100,000 members!

Are these difficult times? Yes. Are retirees up for the challenge? Absolutely! We must enter the next session prepared. We must prepare now by rallying the troops! This is the time when nearly 70 years of advocacy and perseverance really pays off.

Here’s what some other retirees are saying about TRTA:

  • Kathy T.

Yes, I belong. They helped us get the only raise/money retirees have gotten this century.

  • Lila M.

All Texas retired school employees should be members of TRTA. They represent us in the legislature and numbers count! Each member of TRTA represents a vote, and legislators care about that!

  • Robin H.

TRTA costs less than $3.00 a month. It’s a great deal, especially considering they are fighting to make things better for us.

  • Rick H.

Yes-great advocates for us in the state legislature as well as Congress. Very active at the congressional level trying to deal with the disgraceful way they treat our Social Security benefits.

  • Beverly N.

Yes, they are an excellent advocate for retired teachers. They work tirelessly for us with the legislature when in session. Strongly support them. Go to trta.org to join.

  • Doneice R.

I suggest you join both the state TRTA and a local group! They are both an important part of advocating for Retired School Personnel benefits. TRTA is nearing 100,000 members – legislators know us and know our issues! TRTA members are a strong voice in Austin!

  • Rita L.

I am a member of TRTA and my local. I love the support and the advocacy of this organization. The member benefits are also great. Be a part of something that matters.

  • Darell H.

Hope you will join TRTA and join us in advocating for yourself and our peers. Many of those who retired long ago, who no longer have a spouse to help support them, are living near poverty. They need our help.

  • Debbie J.

It’s a great organization that represents retired teachers and their needs. TRTA also keeps its members aware of what issues are in session and being decided. It also helps and encourages retired teachers to email or call their representatives.

  • Phil C.

TRTA is the go-to place for ALL Texas retired teachers. They lobby for US.

  • Cynthia B.

TRTA represents us in the Legislature. People, there is safety in numbers. Can you imagine if EVERY retired public school employee joined TRTA what a powerful statement that would be? Join up now.

  • Randy M.

Yes. Every retired educator should be a member. They help us to have a voice at TRS and the state capitol. It is so affordable, and you can have it deducted from your monthly TRS payment. Less than $3.00 per month. Why would you not become a member?

Thank You and Keep Checking Your Email!

The TRTA Board of Directors thanks you for your continued support and your membership. The board and the staff are thinking of you and wishing you all well during these trying and unusual times. We know that Zoom and other virtual services cannot take the place of face-to-face contact and hope that we can resume meetings again sooner rather than later.

TRTA will also provide additional updates this fall about ways all members can participate in the legislative process virtually and from home as we head into the November general election cycle and 87th Legislative Session in January 2021. Watch for frequent email updates from Tim Lee and don’t forget to phone your friends and ask them to join TRTA today!

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