How Long Must You Teach in Texas Before You Can Retire?

Texas public school teachers have to work at least five years and meet other requirements before they can claim retirement benefits.

Texas public school teachers have to work at least five years and meet other requirements before they can claim retirement benefits.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas provides retirement benefits to employees of public schools, colleges and universities supported by the state of Texas. The system also provides benefits to employees of related educational organizations, such as school districts and the Texas Education Agency, the state department of education. In 2011, more than a million teachers and other educational workers had accounts with the TRS. In that year, some 313,000 members received benefits, with the average benefit for those who retired in 2011 at $2,252.

Normal Retirement

To retire and receive benefits, Texas teachers and other eligible employees must have completed a minimum of five years of credited service. Beyond that, eligibility depends on the teacher's age, how long the teacher has taught and whether the teacher is disabled or not. To receive benefits, an eligible member must no longer be working in Texas public education, must have applied for benefits and must not have withdrawn her contributions from the system. Members who joined the system before September 1, 2007, and remained members until retirement are eligible for retirement at age 65 as long as they have completed five years of service. A member is also eligible when her age plus years of service -- five years minimum -- equals 80 or more. Members who joined the system on or after September 1, 2007, are eligible for retirement at age 65 with five years of service, or at age 60 when the member’s age and years of service -- five years minimum -- equals 80 or more. Eligibility and benefits rates for members who left teaching and later returned depend on a number of factors, including whether the members are grandfathered in to rules that changed in the past decade. Members should contact the Teacher Retirement System of Texas at 1-800-223-8778 for more information on grandfathered status.

Early Retirement

Texas teachers may take early retirement, but the five-years-of-service rule still applies. To take early retirement, a member who joined the system before September 1, 2007, must be 55 years old, with at least five years of service, or any age below 50, with 30 or more years of service, as long as the member's age and years of service is less than 80. A member who joined the system on or after September 1, 2007, must be 55 years old, with at least five years of service; or must be less than 60 years old, with age and years of service credit totaling 80 or more; or must be less than 60 years old, but with 30 years of service credit. Early retirement may mean a reduction in monthly retirement payments unless the member’s age plus years of service total 80.

Retirement Estimate Calculator

TRS provides several online calculators to help members estimate their retirement benefits. The retirement estimate calculator and the grandfathered members calculator require no passwords. The MyTRS Calculator automatically pulls information from the state system on a teacher's years of service and salaries, but requires users to register for a TRS password.

Disability Retirement

The TRS Medical Board determines eligibility for disability retirement for physical or mental disabilities. For retirees with 10 or more years of service, payments continue as long as the disability lasts. For those with fewer than 10 years of service, payments continue for the retiree's life, the duration of the disability, or the number of months of credited service, whichever is shorter. TRS provides no online calculator for disability benefits. Contact the Teacher Retirement System of Texas at 1-800-223-8778 for more information on disability benefits.

 

About the Author

Sheila Mason has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She has worked in the translation field, handling technical manuals for Fortune 500 companies such as Siemens, and served as nation/world editor at the "Wisconsin State Journal." Mason has also contributed business, academic and medical writing to the University of Notre Dame and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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