Frequently Asked Questions about TRS, Social Security, and Medicare
Is it true that I will get a check from TRS and the school district for June, July, and August?
Yes!! The checks from the district come from money withheld from your pay so that you can be paid in the summer months. You have already earned the money. TRS checks do not start until 31 days after your last district paycheck, and the district sends in TRS Form 7. If you are paid through August, the first time you see a TRS check should be toward the end of September, and then all checks in arrears will be paid at once.
When do I need to resign from the district?
You must let the district know that you are leaving, prior to your retirement date, which is usually the last day of May.
Can I retire at the semester and get credit for the year?
If it is your retirement year, you may retire at the end of the semester even if it is not 90 days. For any year other than your retirement year, you must work 90 days. If you retire at the semester, that year will not be counted as one of the years in computing your best three or five-year average, but you will receive one year of credit.
How does TRS determine how much I will earn?
(Years in TRS)(.023)(best three or five-year average) Look at your statement from this October and it will tell you if your average is based on three or five years, or you can use the calculator on the TRS Website.
When can I retire?
Rule of 80
Membership in TRS started prior to Sept. 1, 2007 and you had at least 5 years as of Aug. 31, 2014
Rule of 80 AND must be 60 years of age
Membership in TRS began after Sept. 1, 2007,and you had at least 5 years of service as of Sept. 1, 2014
Rule of 80 AND must be 62 years of age
Membership in TRS began on or after Sept. 1, 2007 and you did not have at least five years of service on Sept. 1, 2014.
You are 65
You can retire at age 65 without meeting any of the rules above, but you can’t have the TRS health insurance unless you meet the above rules. Also, there is no reduction in your annuity for not meeting the requirements.
How do I become eligible for TRS Care insurance?
At least 10 years of service credit in Texas public education and meet the rule of 80, or have 30 or more years of TRS service credit.
What is the cost of TRS Care insurance?
When should TRS Care go into effect?
The school district should pay for your insurance through August, so TRS Care will go into effect September 1, however, you may start it anywhere from June 1st to September 1st. If you are not retiring at the end of the year, TRS Care should go into effect the month after your school insurance ends. If you take the school insurance and work into June, you may not be able to drop the school insurance until July. Check with your district for more information.
How do I use the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) Calculator to see how much of your own social security you will lose because of TRS?
If you are eligible for Social Security benefits and want to know how much TRS will cause your Social Security benefit to be reduced, follow the steps below. (For your information, WEP stands for Windfall Elimination Provision.)
- Click here to go to the WEP Calculator on the SSA Website. You not need to download anything!
- Scroll half way down the page until you get to Date of Birth.
- Fill in the Date of Birth blank.
- Fill in the Age at Retirement blank. Estimate it if you are not sure. Your statement from Social Security will tell you the earliest date you can draw Social Security.
- Select Today’s Dollars.
- Non-Covered Pension Amount: For now leave this at zero.
- Annual Earnings Covered by Social Security: Use the statement Social Security mailed to you this year and fill in each blank beside the year. If you don’t have the statement, go to ssa.gov and register. Then select “Earnings Record” at the top of the page.
- Now it will ask you to estimate you next two years earnings covered by social security. You can estimate this or leave it at zero.
- Hit the calculate button. This will give you what would draw if you did not have a TRS pension.
Now let’s see how much you lose because of the TRS pension.
Go back to the blank that said: Non-covered Pension Amount. Put an estimate of the gross amount you will draw from TRS per month. Go to the bottom and hit calculate again. This is what you will actually get from Social Security.
Compare this to the first number and you can see how much you will lose.
If I retire at the end of the year, what will be my retirement date?
With TRS, you always retire the last day of the month. If you retire at the end of the year, your retirement date will be the last day of May. As long as you don’t work past June 15, you may declare the last day of May as your retirement date, and get a June retirement check. However, your resignation date from the district is your last day of work.
Can I work after I retire?
If you retired PRIOR to January 1, 2011, you may now work in Texas public education in any capacity without any loss of monthly annuities. The District must pay a surcharge for all retirees who retired after September 1, 2005.
If you retired AFTER January 1, 2011, you may work full time for as much as 12 months each school year without any loss of annuities, only if you have a break in service of 12 full consecutive calendar months after retirement. A recent change in state law repeals the special exceptions such as critical needs areas and bus drivers. Retirees who have not had a 12-month separation, must have one full month of separation, and then may substitute an unlimited amount of time, providing the position has a full-time teacher hired for the position (or 20 days maximum for an unfilled position), or may work NO MORE than 4 hours in any work day per calendar month for non-subsitute work.
Can I buy years in TRS?
You can buy years for withdrawn service, developmental leave, unreported service or compensation credit ( if you taught or substituted 90 days in one year), military service, and you can pay for one year if you have 50 state sick leave days. To find out the cost of buying the years you can go to the TRS Calculators page, however, if you need information about out of state credit, you will need to call TRS at 1-800-223-8778.
If I plan to retire this year, how do I get started?
If you plan to retire this year, either at the end of the fall semester or at the end of May, you need to order your retirement packet online at www.trs.state.tx.us. In order to request your forms, you will need to register with My TRS first. You will find the link to My TRS at the top of the page. Once you have registered with My TRS, on the left side select “Request Retirement Estimate or Packet” and follow the directions. If you have trouble requesting the forms online, you can call TRS at 1-800-223-8778. When they ask you if you have an extension say “counselor” and it will take you to a person.
SOCIAL SECURITY FAQ's
What is the average check distributed by SS, and what is the maximum that can be drawn at full retirement age?
The average check is $1500/ month, and the maximum in 2016 was $2600/ month for someone retiring at full retirement age.
Typically, how much of your needs during retirement does social security cover for the average person?
What is the amount of SS benefit based on?
Your highest 35 years of earnings. If you have years when you did not contribute to SS, zeros are averaged in. If you keep working after you start drawing SS, any year you earn more than one of your lowest years; it will make your SS benefit increase for the next year.
When should I draw my SS benefit?
That varies on your situation, but if you start drawing at the earliest date, 62 years of age, it will reduce your SS benefit by around 30% from full retirement age. If you were born after 1943, you SS benefit increases by 8% per each year after your full retirement age (this is around 66 to 67). It keeps increasing by 8% until you reach 70 years of age and then it stops increasing. By waiting from 62 years of age to 70, your benefit will increase by 64%.
What is full retirement age?
Age To Receive Full Social Security Benefits (Called “full retirement age” or “normal retirement age.”)
Birth year years to reach full retirement age
|1955||66 + 2 months|
|1956||66 + 4 months|
|1957||66 + 6 months|
|1958||66 + 8 months|
|1959||66 + 10 months|
|1960 and up||67|
How much is the spousal benefit?
You are eligible for one half of your spouse’s benefit while they are living, and 100% of the benefit when your spouse passes.
Can I get the spousal benefit and my own SS too?
No! You get the higher of the two.
Can you receive spousal benefits if you are divorced?
If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:
- Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
- Your ex-spouse is unmarried;
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
- The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work; and
- You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits
The ex-spouse can draw spousal benefits even if the former spouse is not collecting his SS benefits at the time but is of age to do so.
Do you pay taxes on SS benefits?
You may owe taxes on SS based on your other income.
|Individual:|||$25,000 to $34,000|||You pay tax on 50% of your SS benefit|
|Individual:|||Greater than $34,000|||You pay tax on 85% of your SS benefit|
|Joint:|||$32,000 to $44,000|||You pay tax on 50% of your SS benefit|
|Joint:|||Greater than $44,000|||You pay tax on 85% of your SS benefit|
How do I get a history of how much I have paid in to SS?
Can I earn income after I start collecting SS?
If you start collecting at your full retirement age, you can earn as much as you like without losing any of your SS benefits? If you start collecting SS before your full retirement age, see below.
In 2017, the annual earnings limit is $16,920 if you’re under full retirement age. If you will reach full retirement age in 2017, the limit on your earnings for the months before full retirement age is $44,880. Any earnings above the limit, $1 is deducted from your SS for each $2 you earn above the limit.
When and how do I sign up for Social Security?
You should sign up for Social Security no more than four months before you intend to draw SS. You can sign up at www.ssa.gov or go to a local office.
What is the salary limit on which you can pay SS?
It is limited to no more than $127,200 of your salary.
If I draw a pension on which no SS was paid (Like TRS), will that affect my SS benefit?
Spousal: SS will take two-thirds of your TRS benefit and subtract that from your spousal benefit. Most long-time teachers get no spousal benefit.
Your Social Security: For most teachers, your social security will be reduced by around 50%. You can calculate exactly how much it will be decreased by following the calculator instructions at the top of this page.
When should you sign up for Medicare?
If you are already drawing Social Security when you reach the age of 65, you will automatically be signed up for Medicare and receive a welcome packet around your 65th birthday.
If you are retired and not drawing Social Security when you reach 65, your initial enrollment period runs three months before you turn 65 to three months after. If you do not sign up during this period, you will have to pay higher premiums when you do sign up for Medicare.
If you are still working and covered by your employer’s insurance, or if your spouse is still working and you are covered under your spouses’ insurance, (as long as the employer has at least 20 employees) you may delay taking Medicare until you retire. When you sign up for part B when you retire, you are required to furnish proof that your employer has covered you with insurance since your 65th birthday. Most people will go ahead and sign up for Medicare part A since it is usually no cost. The one exception to signing up for Medicare part A is if you have a high deductible health care plan with a health savings account (HSA). IRS rules do not allow you to contribute to an HSA once you start Medicare.
TRS Retirees: Most retirees allow their school district to continue paying their health insurance through August, and they start TRS Care insurance September 1 of their retirement year. If the retiree is 65 on or before September 1 when TRS care starts, they will need to sign up for Medicare and start part A and B September 1. It is a good idea to sign up two or three months before September 1.
What do Medicare Part A and Part B Cover?
Part A – hospital stays, skilled nursing, home health service and hospice care. (In most cases no cost)
Part B – doctor services and other outpatient services. (You will pay $121.80 or more based on income)
How Do I Enroll InMedicare?
To enroll in Medicare contact Social Security at 800-722-1213 or www.socialsecurity.gov. to learn more about how your employers health care plan works with Medicare go to www.medicare.gov/publications and view the booklet “Medicare and Other Health Benefits: Your Guide to Who Pays First.” Or call 800-633-4227 to request a free copy