When you can retire under the Texas Retirement System depends on when you started working as a teacher and how many years you have put in. The regulations regarding teacher retirement underwent many changes as of 2014, so those who began their teaching careers more recently operate under different eligibility rules than more seasoned teachers. Your eligibility is determined by how many years of TRS service credit you have obtained. Service credit is based on one credit per one school year, with a minimum of 90 days of work during that year. Buying service credits is another possibility.
There are several factors that determine how long you need to teach in the state of Texas before you can retire. Your age and the date you started teaching both play a role.
Rule of 80
The TRS adheres to the Rule of 80 when it comes to determining retirement eligibility. That’s a combination of age and years of service credit. For example, if a teacher reaches age 60 and has taught for 20 years, she has met the Rule of 80 criteria. There is a minimum of five years of service credit necessary, so a person age 76 who has taught for just four years does not meet the Rule of 80.
The standard retirement benefit is available for teachers turning 65 with at least five years of service credit. However, members of the TRS who joined the system before September 1, 2007 and who had at least five years of service credit when the changes went into effect as of August 31, 2014 are not subject to a minimum retirement age to qualify for full benefits.
If a member did not have five years of service credit as of the date the changes went into effect in 2014, he must wait until age 62 to retire with full benefits. Other members meeting the Rule of 80 can retire before meeting the age minimum, but they should expect to have benefits reduced by 5 percent for each year they are under the age of either 60 or 62.
Upon reaching age 55, TRS members may receive a lesser retirement benefit if they have at least five years of service credit but their age and service does not reach 80. If a person is less than 55 years old but has at least 30 years of service, she may also receive a lesser benefit. For example, someone who began teaching at age 22 and worked continuously until age 52 would qualify for early retirement.
Purchasing Retirement Credits
Teachers have the option of purchasing retirement service credits to help them qualify for an earlier retirement. As of 2018, military service allows a teacher to purchase up to five years of credit, while prior out-of-state teaching jobs permit the purchase of up to 15 years of credit. For the latter, the teacher cannot be enrolled in another state’s public retirement system.
Teachers may also purchase credits through accumulated sick leave, with 50 unused days of leave equal to one year of credit. Those with previous work experience who teach either technology or career classes may purchase up to two years of service credit. The actual cost of a service credit varies, and there is a limit to how many years a teacher may purchase in service credits, even if he qualifies in different areas. All service credits require payment by the teacher’s effective retirement date.
- Texas Classroom Teachers Association: Answers to Common TRS Questions
- Texas Classroom Teachers Association: How to Calculate Your TRS Benefits
- Teacher Retirement System of Texas: Eligibility Requirements
- United Educators Association: Frequently Asked Questions About TRS
- Teacher Retirement System of Texas: TRS Service Credit