Benefits

Five-year requirement for normal-age service retirement eligibility changes

Effective Sept. 1, 2014, any person who does not have at least five years of service credit in TRS on Aug. 31, 2014, or any person who becomes a member of TRS on or after Sept. 1, 2014 will be affected by the changes made to the normal-age service retirement eligibility criteria based on Senate Bill 1458, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013.

This also includes members who had five years of service credit and who terminate membership in TRS by withdrawal of accumulated contributions on or after Sept. 1, 2014, and then later resume membership. Under the changes made by this bill, in order to be eligible for a normal-age service retirement annuity, unreduced for early age, a member must meet one of the following criteria:

  • age 65 with at least five years of service credit, or
  • age 62 with at least five years of service credit and meet the Rule of 80 (age and years of service credit total at least 80).

Members who have at least five years of service credit in TRS on Aug. 31, 2014 and who do not terminate TRS membership by withdrawal of accumulated contributions after that date, will be able to retire under the retirement eligibility requirements in place immediately before the effective date of the bill.

In order to be exempted from the changes to retirement eligibility requirements, eligible members may purchase Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA*), withdrawn, and unreported (including substitute service and/or worker’s compensation service) service credit by Aug. 31, 2014, to meet the five years of TRS service credit requirement by that date (“2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement”). If a member has any of these types of service, please contact TRS as soon as possible. Ser-vice credit must actually be paid in-full on or before Aug. 31, 2014, to be counted toward meeting the 2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement.

A person who is a TRS member on Aug. 31, 2014, who also has service credit in a retirement system that participates in the proportionate retirement program may combine service credit credited as of Aug. 31, 2014 in the other system with TRS service credit in order to meet the 2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement. Service credit in a retirement system that participates in the proportionate retirement program may be used even if the member has retired from the other system or if the service is granted as “time only credit” in the other system.

Members must notify TRS of the service in the other system prior to retirement for it to be considered for meeting TRS eligibility criteria. For more detailed information about retirement eligibility requirements or the proportionate retirement program, please refer to the TRS Benefits Handbook on the TRS website at http://www.trs.state.tx.us.

TRS will include any qualifying USERRA service, up to a maximum of five years, rendered on or before Aug. 31, 2014, in determining if a member met the 2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement, even if it is not purchased. However, a member must meet all of the requirements to purchase the USERRA service credit before it can be used in this manner.

In addition, a member must maintain membership in TRS until retirement for USERRA service, purchased or not purchased, to be counted toward meeting the 2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement. In order to meet the 2014 Five-Year Service Credit Requirement using qualifying USERRA service rendered on or before Aug. 31, 2014, that was not purchased, a member must verify the service with TRS prior to retirement.

For more information about USERRA service and the requirements to purchase USERRA service, please see the TRS Service Credit brochure on the TRS website at http://www.trs.state.tx.us.

Additional information on the new changes can also be found at http://wp.me/pwR1i-pY.

  Source: ERS Employee News (July 2014)

 

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