What is TRA?
TRA is a defined-benefit (“DB”) pension plan that’s more similar to Social Security than to a 401(k) or 403(b) defined-contribution (“DC”) plan.
PENSIONS MAKE GOOD CENTS
During your career, you and your employer make mandatory payroll contributions to TRA. The funds are pooled and managed by the State Board of Investment to pay your eventual benefit.
- 70 percent of Minnesota pension system revenue comes from investment earnings,
- 16 percent comes from employers, and
- 14 percent comes from employees like you.
What is a pension?
Here are the key differences between your TRA pension and other savings:
Here’s how we translate the statistics of your career into retirement income later.
Most TRA members are “vested” in the TRA plan after three years of service. If your last service was before 1989, your vesting requirement might be five or 10 years. If you have service with another Minnesota pension fund or funds, a combined five years may be required based on the other funds’ vesting requirements.
Once you’re vested, you have earned enough service credit to be eligible for TRA benefits such as leaves of absence and disability.
Service credit affects eligibility for benefits as well as benefit amount. Paid sick leave, vacation days and all required attendance days and hours (such as workshops) count toward service credit. TRA allows no more than one year of service during any fiscal year. Service credit for part-time teachers, extracurricular pay, retro pay, and summer pay is prorated.
Minnesota State service credit is determined by the full-time equivalent as defined in the Minnesota State bargaining agreement. For example, if a Minnesota State employee works 0.5 FTE during the fiscal year, 0.5 (one half) year of service credit is earned.
During your teaching years, a percentage is deducted from every paycheck for your retirement. The current employee contribution rate is 7.5 percent. Your TRA contributions are pretax, reducing your taxable income. Your TRA paycheck deductions are determined by Minnesota law and are subject to change.
Your annual retirement benefit is a percentage of your highest average annual salary over five successive years of formula service credit. One year of formula service credit is a full year of teaching service during which the maximum deductions are withheld. Formula service credit is measured each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). You may not earn more than one year of formula service credit in a fiscal year. In years where you did not perform a full year of teaching service or did not pay the maximum deductions as prescribed by TRA law, the formula service credit is prorated.
Tier I and Tier II formulas
If you were first employed before July 1, 1989, and earned service credit, and your age plus allowable service credit equals 90 or more, you may retire under the Rule of 90. Eligible members retiring under the Rule of 90 receive benefits without any reduction for early retirement.
If you were employed before July 1, 1989, and earned service credit, your retirement benefit will be calculated under both Tier I and Tier II formulas. At retirement you automatically receive the greater of these two benefits.
If you were first employed after June 30, 1989, your retirement benefit will be calculated under Tier II only.
Tier I formula
- First 10 years of service prior to July 1, 2006, 1.2 percent per year
- First 10 years of service on or after July 1, 2006, 1.4 percent per year
- Years 11 and thereafter earned prior to July 1, 2006, 1.7 percent per year
- Years 11 and thereafter earned on or after July 1, 2006, 1.9 percent per year
TRA normal retirement age for members first employed before July 1, 1989, is age 65.
Tier II formula
- All years of service prior to July 1, 2006, 1.7 percent per year
- All years of service on or after July 1, 2006, 1.9 percent per year
Normal retirement age for Tier II members, those first employed after June 30, 1989, is age 66.
All this information is available in our brochure Pension basics for new teachers.
TRA’s role in your financial future
A secure retirement has four components: Social Security, a defined-benefit pension like TRA, personal savings or a 401(k)/403(b), and medical savings (in addition to your health insurance). If any of those pieces is missing, you might not have enough income to support yourself. Less than half (49 percent) of private-sector workers have retirement savings. The average 401(k) balance for households near retirement is only about $150,000.
Social Security Normal Retirement Age
(by year of birth)
1955: 66 and 2 months
1956: 66 and 4 months
1957: 66 and 6 months
1958: 66 and 8 months
1959: 66 and 10 months
1960 and later: 67 years