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08 Mar
0

The March is On: TRS Board of Trustees Elections

Elections are now underway to fill two seats on the Board of Trustees for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). The members elected to the Board of Trustees of TRS represent your interests! There are two open trustee positions: a Retiree seat and an At-Large seat.

As a retiree you get to vote for one person for the retiree position and one person for the at-large position (active employees may only vote for the at-large seat).

PLEASE do not vote for more than one person per position on your ballot. Otherwise, it will be invalidated.

While TRTA will not tell you how to vote, we will tell you how vital it is that you vote! Are you a retiree who wants your voice represented on the TRS Board of Trustees? Then this conversation is about you!

TRTA members, this is an easy way to send a message that you care about what happens with your pension. Many times, these elections do not have a lot of voter participation. Can you imagine the wow-factor if more than 100,000 retirees voted in this election? It would be amazing!

According to the TRS March Newsletter, “one position will be appointed by the Governor from a list of the three candidates who receive the most votes after nomination and election by TRS retirees who are receiving benefits. The other position, a new at-large seat on the board, will be appointed by the Governor from a list of the three candidates who receive the most votes after nomination and election by both TRS retirees and active members. The at-large seat on the board was formerly reserved for a candidate from higher education. Both appointments will be for terms expiring on August 31, 2023.”

Learn About the Candidates

To read more about all of the candidates, click here! TRTA is honored to have two members running for the retiree position on the TRS Board of Trustees. James D. Nance and Fran Plemmons are both dedicated association volunteers and leaders. Please take some time to read the short biographies listed on the TRS website for all candidates.

How to Cast Your Vote

All TRS members should have received a copy of the TRS March Newsletter in the mail, or will receive it soon. Included with the newsletter is a paper ballot with voting instructions. There should also be a postage-paid return envelope included with the ballot. Eligible annuitants and active employees will have the opportunity to vote via the Internet as well. Instructions for both voting methods are included with the ballots.

Both eligible retirees and active members may now cast their ballots in the at-large election. In addition, eligible retirees may cast their ballots in the retiree election. Retirees may vote for one candidate in both of these elections. (Please note that active members of TRS (current employees) will receive a ballot containing only the names of the candidates seeking to be appointed to the at-large position on the board). Space on the ballots has also been provided for write-in candidates.

To be counted, ballots must be returned in envelopes received by TRS no later than May 5, 2017. This means your ballot must be in the TRS office by that date, not postmarked by that date. Be sure to send your ballot in the mail as soon as possible so that it is received in time!

If you prefer, you may cast your vote online following the instructions included with your ballot. Please note you may only use one voting method: mail or Internet. Internet votes must be cast by 5:00 p.m. (CDT) on May 5.

Names of the top three candidates, along with the number of votes they received in each election, will be submitted to the Governor. The Governor will then appoint one of the individuals in each election to fill a six-year term beginning as early as September 1, 2017.

Make your voice heard and cast your vote today!

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.

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07 Mar
0

The March is On: Repealing the WEP Still On the Horizon

Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) leaders visited Washington, D.C. last week to meet with Texas congressional members about what the next steps are in repealing the unfair federal Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Are your earned Social Security wages being taken away from you? Then this conversation is about you!

Congressman Kevin Brady filed legislation during the last congressional cycle to address the WEP. H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, proposed to provide a rebate to retirees who fall under the WEP. The bill received considerable support, including 100 Congressional cosponsors.

However, stakeholder groups could not come to a final agreement on the bill’s changes to the WEP. The bill was delayed in committee, with a promise from Brady to continue moving forward with even better resolutions to this unfair law in the next congressional cycle.

During TRTA’s visits in Washington, D.C. last week, Congressman Brady again affirmed that his top personal priority as a legislator is to pass WEP reform. However, due to major political issues such as tax reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taking precedence in the early part of this new congressional cycle, a bill has not yet been filed to address the WEP. Brady, who chairs the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, said he would file new legislation as soon as he can. When filed, the bill will have a new name and number.

Brady felt that the bill may be filed by late summer, and vowed to continue working closely with all stakeholders, including TRTA, to make the legislation work for everyone. Members, we also want you to know that the Government Pension Offset (GPO) was a part of this conversation. It is possible that the GPO could be addressed in any upcoming legislation reforming the WEP as well.

What You Can Do Now to Support Repeal of the WEP and GPO

While there is not yet a bill number for reforming or repealing the WEP and GPO, members can still call their congressmen today and express their support for Congressman Brady’s efforts to change these unfair provisions. Let them know you want to see these unfair provisions reformed and you would like their support when Congressman Brady’s bill is filed later this year.

Find your U.S. Representative by clicking here.

Call your U.S. Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, using the phone numbers listed below:

John Cornyn: 202.224.2934        Ted Cruz: 202.224.5922

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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06 Mar
0

The March is On to Keep TRS-Care Affordable

March is the most crucial month for legislative action on issues that impact you and your fellow public education retirees. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is moving full steam ahead, and we need your help!

TRS-Care has been an issue on the minds of retirees and legislators for several sessions, and it is now coming to a head. (Read our complete TRS-Care FAQ here).

Change IS coming. The health care market is changing—everywhere. TRS retirees will not be immune to these changes.

TRTA members are not opposed to change! The issue we face now is: how much pain comes with these changes?

The Texas Legislature is moving at a rapid pace, finalizing budget discussions, hearing bills in committee, having heated floor session debates, and we need them to be THINKING ABOUT YOU while they are doing the work of Texas!

Bills have been filed in the Senate to address TRS-Care. The House will also file legislation to address TRS-Care.

The plan currently laid out by the Texas Senate through Senate Bill 788 has it pros and its cons, but affects Medicare-eligible and non-Medicare eligible populations very differently.

If you are age 65 or over

  • Medicare Advantage may be the only option available through TRS-Care.
  • The estimated monthly premium would be $146. This is an increase for most people in the plan; however, it is still considered to be a reasonable price for the benefit provided.
  • The deductible for TRS-Care Medicare Advantage would be $500. This is in addition to Medicare deductible requirements.
  • Medicare B only retirees will also be included in this plan and will see reduced premiums.
  • TRS-Care Medicare Advantage has a very high overall satisfaction score for those who use the plan. The issue has not been about the quality or quantity of care. Rather, the biggest complaint is that doctor and hospital providers refuse to accept the plan.

If this option does not work for you, CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY! 1.888.674.3788 and make a plan to attend TRTA Day at the Capitol on March 29!

If you are under the age of 65

  • Pre-65 retirees will pay A LOT more for TRS-Care.
  • TRS-Care 1, 2 and 3 will go away.
  • There will be only one plan: a high deductible health care plan.
  • Premiums would be an estimated $430 per month, or $5,160 per year!
  • The deductible of $4,000 would need to be met before plan coinsurance starts.
  • There would be 80/20 coverage after meeting the $4,000 deductible.
  • The maximum annual out-of-pocket (MOOP) limit will be $7,150.
  • There would be no prescription copays. All prescription coverage is part of deductible requirements.
  • The total annual out-of-pocket cost exposure for a retiree would equal $12,310* per year! (*projected costs for individual only; retiree plus spouse and/or family are higher)

If this option is not affordable for you, CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY! 1.888.674.3788 and make a plan to attend TRTA Day at the Capitol on March 29!

If you are an active educator thinking about retirement

  • You need to be thinking about your health care coverage!
  • If you are under the age of 65, you need to determine if you can afford the high-deductible health care plan (see above).
  • If you are age 65 or over, you need to think about whether or not Medicare Advantage is the right choice for you.
  • TRTA is urging caution for future retirees who plan to retire prior to age 65.
  • This legislative proposal may change the current healthcare options available to you.
  • Don’t retire without knowing the facts about your health care coverage!

If the high-deductible health care plan is not affordable for you, CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY! 1.888.674.3788 and make a plan to attend TRTA Day at the Capitol on March 29!

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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