Veteran teachers may be considering retirement this year, possibly earlier than they had planned. There are several points to be aware of if you are thinking about changing your retirement plans, including leaving mid-year.

  1. If you want to retire mid-year, you must complete the full fall semester or 90 days, whichever is less, to receive a year of TRS credit. (An employee who is leaving mid-year but not retiring must work 90 days to get credit — the “full semester” rule applies only to those who are working their final year before retiring.) To receive credit for the full semester, it is fine to take paid leave, but you must not have any docked days. If you have docked days you will not be considered to have worked the full semester and you will need to have at least 90 days of service credit after Sept. 1 to obtain the year of TRS service credit.
  2. Anyone considering retiring mid-year due to the pandemic should be aware that the “full semester” dates will change if the district changes its schedule. For example, if a district closes down for two weeks to quarantine because of COVID-19 spread, it may revise the end date of the fall semester. A potential retiree will need to adjust his/her retirement date accordingly, as TRS will consider the new date to be the end of the semester.
  3. Retiring without meeting your full standard retirement criteria can carry substantial penalties, from a significantly reduced monthly check to more expensive insurance coverage under TRS-Care if you are under age 65 — or even a loss of eligibility for TRS-Care if you don’t meet the “Rule of 80” or have at least 30 years credit.
  4. Eligibility for retirement has gotten very complex. It depends on several factors including your age, your date of entry into TRS, and your years of service, so don’t count on the “teacher grapevine” for accurate information. The safest method for determining whether you’re eligible and whether it’s the right move for you is to speak directly to a TRS benefits counselor at 800-223-8778.
  5. Even if you are eligible for normal, unreduced retirement benefits, be sure that you can afford your preferred standard of living on the pension check you would receive now. There is no guarantee that your monthly amount will increase in the near future (or ever), most school employees will either receive reduced Social Security benefits or none at all, and the cost of health insurance continues to rise.

For retirement-related questions about your specific situation, you can reach a TRS benefits counselor at 800-223-8778. You can also access your TRS account directly through the MyTRS portal on the agency’s website.

If you are considering resigning, but not retiring, check out “What Happens if I Resign Now.”