What is the Teachers' Retirement System and who administers this retirement system?
The Teachers' Retirement System is a defined benefit retirement plan that was established in West Virginia Code as of July 1, 1941. Since July 1, 1991, this retirement plan has been administered by the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board. § 18-7A-1
What is "Prior Service"?
"Prior Service" means all service as a teacher completed prior to July 1, 1941, and all service of a present member who was employed as a teacher and did not contribute to a retirement account because he or she was legally ineligible for membership during such service. § 18-7A-3
What is "Total Service"?
"Total Service" means all service as a teacher while a member of the retirement system since last becoming a member and, in addition thereto, credit for prior service. § 18-7A-3
Can members purchase "Out-of-State Service"?
Yes. If the member was a teacher in a public school in another state, he or she can transfer that service by paying double the amount he or she contributed during the first full year of current employment, times the number of years for which credit is granted, plus interest. Transferred out-of-state service may not be used to establish eligibility for a retirement benefit in TRS. § 18-7A-17(c)
Can members receive service credit for Legislative Service?
Yes. TRS members shall not be considered absent from service while serving as a member of the Legislature of the State of West Virginia during any duly constituted session of that body. § 18-7A-17(m)
Can a member receive service credit while on Workers' Compensation?
Yes, but only if the member returned to employment with his or her participating employer within 1 year following the cessation of temporary total disability benefits. If the member is eligible to purchase this retirement service, a maximum of 2 years may be purchased, and it must be done so by lump sum payment from personal funds within 2 years of the end of the disability period for which credit is sought to be purchased. The member must pay an amount that equals his or her contributions and the employer contributions based on the salary the member was receiving immediately prior to having sustained such compensable injury. No interest is charged for the purchase of this service credit. § 18-7A-14b
What is meant by "Employment Term"?
"Employment term" means employment for at least 10 months, a month being defined as 20 employment days. § 18-7A-3
What is "Regularly Employed for Full-time Service"?
"Regularly employed for full-time service" means employment in a regular position or job throughout the employment term regardless of the number of hours worked or the method of pay. § 18-7A-3
What is contributed into the Teachers' Retirement System for members of the plan?
Each member contributes 6% of his or her gross salary into the retirement plan. The employer contributes 15% of gross salary for each of its employees hired before July 1, 2005, and 7.5% of gross salary for each of its employees hired for the 1st time on or after July 1, 2005. § 18-7A-14
Does a member receive service credit in the Teachers' Retirement System for military service?
Yes. Any member of the Teachers' Retirement System who served in the armed forces of the United States during any period of compulsory military duty (September 16, 1940 through July 1, 1973) shall receive "free" service credit in the Teachers' Retirement System for the time spent in the armed forces. TRS members may also purchase military service credit for active duty periods after July 1, 1973 if the member was called up or went voluntarily to active duty during the time employed by a participating agency and returned to work with the same employer after call-up. The cost to purchase such service is the amount which would have been contributed had the person remained continuously employed during the period of service in question. "Free" military service cannot exceed 25% of Teachers' Retirement service, up to a maximum of 10 years. Military service may not be used in more than one retirement system administered by the Consolidated Public Retirement Board. Military service can be used toward meeting initial retirement eligibility. § 18-7A-17 and 38 U.S.C. § 4318(b)(2)
Can members transfer service credit from the Public Employees Retirement System to the Teachers' Retirement System?
Yes. After contributing for more than three years, any former or present member of the Public Employees Retirement System may transfer service credit to the Teachers' Retirement System by paying the 1.5 % difference in contributions. § 18-7A-17(g)
Can a member in the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) elect to enter the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System (TDC)?
No. The Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System closed to new members effective June 30, 2005. § 18-7B-7a
What options do members have who terminate employment?
Any member of the Teachers' Retirement System who terminates employment prior to retirement has two options. The member can withdraw his or her contributions (plus 3% interest through June 30, 2000, and 4% interest thereafter). Or, the member can leave his or her funds on deposit, and if they have 5 or more years of contributing service they will qualify for a monthly retirement benefit at age 62. If the member has over 20 years of contributing service, they will qualify for a monthly retirement benefit at age 60. § 18-7A-23
If a member terminates employment prior to July 1, 2005, and returns to employment with an employer who participates in the Teachers' Retirement System after July 1, 2005, can the member re-enter as a member?
Yes. Provided, the member never participated in the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System. An employee re-hired after July 1, 2005 must return to the system in which they last participated (TRS or TDC).
§ 18-7A-14 and § 18-7B-7a.
What happens if a contributing member dies prior to retirement?
If a contributing member dies prior to retirement and the member was at least 50 years of age and has at least 25 years of total service at the time of his or her death, the surviving spouse of the deceased, provided that the spouse is designated as the sole beneficiary, shall be eligible for a lifetime annuity. If the member did not meet the age and service requirements, the employee contributions and a like amount of employer contributions plus interest are paid to the designated beneficiary. § 18-7A-23 and § 162-4-7.1
Can the assets in the Teachers' Retirement System be part of a divorce settlement?
Yes. The marital property portion of the member's account can be part of a divorce settlement. Payment may only be made at the time of withdrawal, retirement or death of the member. The Consolidated Public Retirement Board will provide the member with a model Qualified Domestic Relations Order form.
§ 18-7A-30 and § 162-1-6
What is the benefit formula for retirement benefits in this plan?
The normal benefit is a monthly straight life annuity which is 2% of final average salary multiplied by total service credit in TRS. § 18-7A-26
How do you calculate final average salary?
The "average final salary" will come from the average annual salary from the 5 highest years earned within the last 15 years of total service credit. § 18-7A-3
When does a member qualify to receive full retirement benefits?
In order to qualify for full retirement benefits, a member must be employed at age 60 with at least 5 years of credited service. A member may also qualify at age 55 with at least 30 years of credited service or at any age with at least 35 years of credited service. Members can retire with reduced benefits before age 55 after attaining 30 years of credited service. An individual with 5 or more years of contributing service who terminates employment prior to retirement but does not withdraw his or her employee contributions will be eligible for retirement benefits at age 62, or age 60 with 20 years of contributing service. § 18-7A-25
What pay out options are available at retirement time?
Assuming that a member qualifies for retirement benefits, he or she has 4 retirement options: Option A provides the maximum monthly benefit to the member. This option entitles the member to monthly payments during his or her lifetime and will cease at the member's death. Option C is a 100% joint and survivor annuity which provides a monthly payment to the member during his or her lifetime, and will continue to pay the beneficiary the same amount for his or her life after the member's death. Option D is a 50% joint and survivor annuity which provides a monthly payment to the member during his or her lifetime, and will continue to pay the beneficiary one-half of the monthly payments for his or her life after the member's death. Option E provides a reduced annuity payable monthly to the member for the member's lifetime. If the member dies before receiving 120 monthly payments, the remainder of those 120 monthly payments shall be payable to the member's named beneficiary or the member's estate. § 162-4-5
Can a retiree change a retirement option after he or she begins to receive monthly benefits?
Generally, no. But upon the death of a spouse, a retiree may elect to name a new beneficiary for a Joint and Survivor Option as long as there isn't QDRO on file with the WV Consolidated Public Retirement Board. However, the retiree's benefits will be significantly reduced. Absent a QDRO, if a retiree divorces and/or remarries, he or she may name a new spouse as beneficiary for a joint survivorship annuity, or the retiree may elect a life annuity which is actuarially equivalent to the annuity in place when the change is made. § 18-7A-28
Does the Teachers' Retirement System have a disability retirement provision?
Yes. An active member of the system may qualify for a total and likely to be permanent disability retirement if he or she has at least 10 years of service credit and has been unable to work because of the disability for at least 6 months. If the disability is a direct result of an act of student violence directed toward the member, the service requirement is 5 years. All disability retirement applications must be approved by the WV Consolidated Public Retirement Board. § 18-7A-25
If a member is granted disability retirement, what does the member receive?
The annuity will be computed just like regular retirement, with all survivor options, except the member does not have to meet the eligibility requirements. § 18-7A-25
Can unused sick and annual days be used for additional retirement benefits?
Yes. But only if the member is enrolled in a Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) insurance plan at the time of retirement. The retiree may receive 2 days of retirement service credit for each day of accrued sick and annual leave. However, such credited service shall not be used in meeting initial eligibility for retirement. The member may also convert unused sick and annual days towards PEIA premium payments. Accrued leave cannot be split and used for both options. § 5-16-13(f)
Can a retiree accept work after he or she retires without a loss in benefits?
Any retiree, other than as a college teacher, who accepts employment for a relatively short period (no more than 140 days during the school year) is considered to be temporary employee and shall continue to receive his or her normal monthly benefits. A retiree may teach college courses on a non-contract basis up to 7 semester hours without a loss of benefits. A disability retiree is ineligible to return to service in a substitute, full or part-time capacity. § 162-4-6
May a member of TRS borrow from the Plan?
Generally, yes. An actively contributing member of the Teachers' Retirement System, upon written application, may borrow from his or her individual account. The minimum loan is $100 and the maximum amount is the lesser of $8,000 or one-half (2) of the employee's accumulated contributions. Interest for loan repayment is set by the Board and is currently set at 9.5%. No member is eligible for more than one outstanding loan at any time and all loans must be repaid within 60 months. There are very strict rules regarding loans from qualified retirement plans. Members are encouraged to seek full advice on these matters from a loan officer with the WV Consolidated Public Retirement Board. § 18-7A-34
Employees who becomes a member of the Teachers' Retirement System for the 1st time on or after July 1, 2005 are not eligible to borrow from his or her individual account. § 18-7A-34
Are retirement benefits automatic?
No. A member who terminated his or her employment must apply for retirement benefits. § 18-7A-25