Our Issues

TRS Pension Fund

ACTION ITEM: Preserve the funding plan enacted during the 86th Legislature (SB 12)

  • Keep the TRS pension fund on the path to actuarial soundness
  • Ensure SB 12 phase-in plan raising contribution rates to 8% for state/educators, and 1.8% for ISDs by 2022 ACTION ITEM: Secure a financial structure capable of providing a future COLA
  • Average TRS monthly annuity is $2096
  • Half of all TRS annuitants receive less than $1800 per month
  • Members retiring during the last 16 years have never had a permanent increase in their annuity

Consider additional revenue source by requiring all employers to contribute equally

TRS-Care

ACTION ITEM: Maintain contribution for TRS-Care retiree health insurance

  • Vulnerability to COVID-19 necessitates affordable, easy access to doctors and care
  • Avoid increased premiums and cuts in services or benefits
  • Study and design long term funding structure
  • Allow one-time re-enrollment to TRS-Care

Sunset Review 

ACTION ITEM: Adopt TRS Sunset Staff Report and additional TRTA recommendations*

  • Promote a member-focused and friendly culture at TRS
  • Direct TRS to designate an FTE position as a TRS member ombudsman focused on the needs and issues of TRS members, including the impact of COVID-19
  • Direct TRS to simplify and clearly define reasonable rules for return to work and part time employees
  • Create appeals process for disallowed health care claims

 

*See TRTA Position Paper for TRS Sunset recommendations and TRTA recommendations

FEDERAL ISSUES

Social Security

ACTION ITEM: Ensure earned Social Security benefits are paid to retirees

  • Reform WEP and GPO current formulas that unfairly penalize Texas retired educators
  • Retirees’ traditional supplemental income has been impacted by pandemic (substitute teaching, bus driving)
  • Prevent mandatory Social Security as a resolution to the inequity of WEP and GPO

The Government Pension Offset

Social Security issues are complicated and jargon-filled ventures seemingly designed to confuse the average retiree. However, Social Security provisions can have an enormous, negative impact on your retirement, and most people who fall victim to these issues are unaware of the consequences until it’s too late. So even though terms like “non-SS-covered employment” may make you want to pull your hair out, they are certainly worth learning about. A prominent issue that Texas retired teachers face is the Government Pension Offset. The Government Pension Offset, or GPO, is a Social Security provision that reduces government employees’ spousal or survivor benefits....

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The Windfall Elimination Provision

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is an unfair federal provision preventing retirees from receiving the Social Security benefits they are owed. The WEP, which took effect in 1983, 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. Ninety-five percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into Social Security through their work with Texas schools. However, many have other jobs before, during, or after their employment in education in which they do pay into the federal program. We have joined our...

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TRS-Care Funding

TRS-Care is the health insurance program more than 260,000 retired Texas educators rely upon. The program is provided by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the state agency responsible for running teachers’ retirement pensions. During the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, TRS-Care faced a $1.1 billion budget shortfall. If nothing had been done by the Legislature to address this issue, retirees’ premiums would have skyrocketed (even tripling), and the program could have closed within two years, leaving many without a quality health care option. The Texas Legislature made changes to TRS-Care funding for the program to remain...

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TRS Defined Benefits

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has provided its defined benefit (DB) pension plan to retirees since its creation in 1937. During that time, TRS has never missed a payment to its annuitants, and it has stood as a testament to stability through times of great economic uncertainty. The defined benefit plan teachers in Texas pay into is a source of great pride, and it is one of the true upsides of participating in the teaching profession. As many private companies have pivoted away from defined benefit plans, TRS has stayed true to its slogan of being “the forever...

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