The TRS Board of Trustees approved new and revised rules at its Sept. 22, 2017, meeting that may affect active members and future retirees. Some of the issues in these rules are complex and we strongly recommend that members contact TRS to discuss how their personal situations may be affected by the changes.

Working after retirement

The rule changes clarify what kind of work is considered “employment” during the 12-month period after retirement, for the purposes of being eligible to return to work without penalty. Under current law and TRS rules, employees retiring after Jan. 1, 2011, are allowed to return to work without jeopardizing their retirement checks as long as they sit out from employment with a TRS-covered entity during the first 12 months after retirement. The rule change approved at the September meeting was made to address “gaming the system” by employees and districts.

In plain language, if, during the 12-month sit-out period, you volunteer at a school but are doing work that an employee would normally get paid for, including working in the job you held before retirement with an agreement to return to that job after the 12 months, this would be considered “employment” with the district. You could not return to work in this type of capacity in the first year after retirement and continue receiving your TRS checks. True volunteer work is still allowable and would not affect your ability to return to work without penalty.

Access to ActiveCare for retirees returning to work

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, employers are required to offer insurance to full-time employees. However, TRS rules were written in a way that prohibited districts from offering ActiveCare to their retired employees who had returned to work. Those employees were covered under TRS-Care, but that did not exempt the district from the ACA requirement. This rule change ensures that in districts participating in ActiveCare, the district will offer its return-to-work retirees access to ActiveCare. The retiree is still eligible for TRS-Care and does not have to accept the ActiveCare coverage.

Waiving TRS-Care because you have other insurance

Up to now, if you opted not to enroll in TRS-Care at retirement because you had other coverage (for example, through your spouse’s employer), you had to indicate that specific reason at the time you waived coverage in order to be eligible to opt in to TRS-Care later under a qualifying event (such as losing access to your other insurance). The new rule eases that requirement, so that if you have opted out of TRS-Care but then lose coverage, you will be able to move over to TRS-Care without having indicated that specific issue when you retired and waived your coverage.

Sending information electronically

A revised rule clarifies that TRS can satisfy requirements to send certain non-confidential information (such as the Benefits Handbook) electronically — to a work email provided by the employer — instead of by mail. Also, any confidential information can be provided electronically to an email address provided by the member or through the member’s MyTRS account.