Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS)
Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System Information and Forms
Northeastern State University offers retirement plans through the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System (OTRS). OTRS is required for Exempt employees and it is optional for Non-Exempt employees. Members are required to contribute 7% of the first $25,000 of annual salary plus benefits each fiscal year. The University contributes 7% of salary and benefits over $25,000. Maximum contribution for employee will be $145.83 per month for Exempt or $67.31 for Non-Exempt each Bi-weekly paycheck for a total of $1750 each year (July – June). The number of years to “vest” and become eligible for a TRS pension is 7 years effective 11/1/17. Benefit amounts are calculated on a combination of average salary and years of service. There is also an $18,000 Death benefit as an active member. Please use the forms below to indicate whether you elect to participate, provide necessary information for participation, and designate beneficiaries of your retirement plan.
RUSO policy 5.4.3 provides for the continuation of university benefits for those retiring employees hired before July 1, 2009. Employees hired on or after July 1, 2009 will not be eligible to continue their university provided benefits once retired.
Those employees hired within the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) and members of OTRS prior to July 1, 1995, may be eligible for the Regent's Supplemental Retirement Annuity (SRA). Please provide a copy of your signed OTRS "Intent to Retire" estimated benefit calculation form to the Vice President of Administration and Finance or Human Resources to have your benefit calculated and your final paperwork prepared.
For more information, please visit the website for the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System.
At TRS, we are constantly looking for ways to connect with members early on in their career to share with them both the importance of having secure income at retirement as well as what an incredible retirement benefit our state provides Oklahoma’s public education employees through TRS. That’s why we are excited to launch our most recent educational video, Welcome to TRS. This short video contains information about enrollment in TRS, retirement and survivor benefits, the MyTRS Member portal and more.
How Do I Retire?
In order to retire, members must first complete the retirement process through TRS. The retirement process takes four months from initial verification of eligibility to retire to receipt of a retiree’s first benefit check, so we encourage retirees to start the process early. TRS suggests retirees to start this process 6 months before retirement. However, the process cannot start later than 90 days prior to the proposed retirement date.
Retirement Timeline Example
Retiring Effective June 1
What are the Steps for Retiring?
- Prepare a Retirement Projection (Optional): At least one year before retirement, you should generate a personalized retirement projection through the MyTRS Member Portal at https://myotrs.trs.ok.gov/ or contact TRS to request a projection. You should also attend one of TRS’s retirement planning seminars.
- TRS must receive your Pre-Retirement Information Verification (PIV) 90 days prior to your requested retirement date. Members can submit the PIV through the MyTRS Member Portal at https://myotrs.trs.ok.gov/ or may download a copy of the PIV from the TRS website at https://oklahoma.gov/trs.html. The PIV will ask you to verify your information (such as your name, date of birth, requested retirement date, etc.) so that TRS may verify your retirement eligibility. Once TRS verifies you are eligible to retire, staff will send you an Application to Retire.
- TRS must receive your Application to Retire 60 days prior to your retirement date. In your application, you will select your retirement plan. TRS will process your application and mail your final retirement contract.
- TRS must receive your Final Retirement Contract 30 days prior to your retirement date. This contract must be signed, dated and notarized.
- Your retirement date will be on the first day of a month. TRS rules require that members cease working at their TRS employer no later than 10 days after their retirement date.
- Your first benefit payment will be paid on the first day of the month following your retirement date. Benefit payments are made in arrears.
What are my Retirement Benefits?
Once retired, vested TRS members receive a lifetime monthly benefit from TRS. The
amount of this benefit varies depending on the retirement option chosen.
*Generally, the maximum retirement benefit is determined by the member’s years of service and final average salary:
2% X (service years)
X (final average salary)
÷ 12 = monthly benefit.
When am I Eligible to Retire?
Vested TRS members are eligible to retire based on the date they started participating in TRS, their age, and their years of service.
Am I Eligible to Retire Early?
Vested TRS members can elect to retire early; however, they will receive a reduced lifetime monthly benefit. Members participating in TRS before November 1, 2011 may apply for an early retirement starting at age 55. Members first participating in TRS on or after November 1, 2011 may apply for an early retirement starting at age 60.
What if I am Disabled?
You may qualify for disability retirement benefits if a medical condition prevents you from performing regular duties as an employee of the public schools. To qualify for disability benefits, you must:
- Have at least 10 years of contributory Oklahoma service, and
- Submit a disability retirement application detailing your medical condition that must have existed while employed by the public schools of Oklahoma, and
- Be awarded Social Security Disability Benefits for that condition or be approved by the Medical Board of TRS.
Who is Eligible to Participate in TRS?
There are two types of members in TRS: Classified and Nonclassified employees.
- Classified Employees: Classified employees are required to participate in TRS. Classified employees include:
- Any teacher, principal, superintendent, supervisor, administrator, librarian, or certified or registered nurse.
- Any employee who is in a supervisory position, the function of which is primarily devoted to public education.
*Classified employees in TRS should NOT be confused with “Certified Staff.”
- Nonclassified Employees: Nonclassified employees are allowed, but not required to participate in TRS. This
category applies to individuals who are:
- Not classified employees at the same or a different school district;
- Regularly employed by the district (i.e. not employed as a temporary, seasonal, irregular or adjunct employee); AND
- Work twenty (20) hours or more per week.
* Nonclassified employees must complete an election form within 30 days of their initial hire or eligibility for TRS deciding whether or not to participate in TRS. If the employee fails to make an election within 30 days, they are required to participate in TRS.
What are the Benefits of TRS?
Once retired, vested TRS members receive a lifetime monthly benefit from TRS. The amount of the benefit varies depending on the member’s service years and final average salary:
2% X (service years)
X (final average salary)
÷ 12 = monthly benefit.
At retirement, members may select between five retirement options, all of which include a lifetime benefit to eh member. Two of these plans include the option for an annuitant to receive a lifetime benefit after the member’s death.
Members with 30 years of service may also elect to receive a Partial Lump Sum payment at the time of retirement.
Upon an ACTIVE OR RETIRED member’s death, TRS provides a survivor’s benefit to the member’s beneficiary at no cost to the member:
- $18,000 (Active Members). This is in addition to the member’s contribution account balance, including accrued interest.
- $5,000 (Retired Members). This is in addition to the benefits provided by the retirement option selected by the retiree.
Health Insurance Supplement
Retired members with 10 or more years of service may be eligible for a health insurance supplement of $100-$105 per month paid towards the retiree’s health insurance premiums. To be eligible for this benefit, members must continue their TRS employer’s health insurance upon separation from employment. Additional rules apply.
When Can I Retire?
A vested member is eligible for an unreduced benefit based on the date they joined TRS:
Joined on or after November 1, 2011
- Age 65 or Combination 90 at Age 60. These members may retire at age 65 OR when the member’s age is at least 60 and years of creditable service total at least 90 (i.e., age 60 + 30 service years = 90).
Joined from July 1, 1992 through October 31, 2011
- Age 62 or Combination 90. These members may retire at age 62 OR when the member’s age and years of creditable service total 90 (i.e., age 55 + 35 service years = 90).
Joined before July 1, 1992
- Age 62 or Combination 80. These members may retire at age 62 OR when the member’s age and years of creditable service total 80 (i.e., age 60 + 20 years = 80).
How do I Vest in TRS?
Members who joined the System prior to November 1, 2017, and have accumulated a minimum of five (5) years of eligible service in the public schools of Oklahoma shall be vested in the System and considered eligible to receive a monthly retirement benefit at some future date.
Members who join the System on or after November 1, 2017, will become vested when they have accumulated seven (7) years of eligible service.
I’ve Retired. Now What?
Whether TRS retirees are interested in earning extra income or getting paid to do something they enjoy, many retirees find themselves considering working after retirement. There is good news for these retirees – TRS allows its retirees to return to work after retirement, with certain limitations:
- Non-TRS Employers: A retiree can work at an employer that does not participate in TRS without any limitations.
- TRS Employers: Retirees cannot work at any TRS Employer in ANY capacity for 60 days following their retirement. After that period, retirees can return to work subject to certain limitations.
Pre-Arranged Employment Agreements
IRS regulations require a true separation from employment to receive retirement benefits. Prearranged employment agreements between TRS retirees and their previous TRS employers are not considered a good-faith separation. Such a retirement is considered a sham retirement and could affect the qualified tax status of TRS.
Returning to Work
When a retiree returns to work for a TRS employer there are special considerations related to that employment:
First 60 Days:
TRS retirees CANNOT work at any TRS employer in ANY capacity for a 60 day period following their last day of preretirement employment. Failing to do so will result in a forfeiture of all retirement benefits received during this period.
Work after the 60 day period:
TRS retirees have two options when returning to work at a TRS employer after the 60 day break. They can return to work in (1) Non-Contributory Status (receiving retirement benefits) or (2) Contributory Status.
- Non-Contributory Status: Retirees returning to work in a non-contributory status continue to receive their monthly retirement benefit, but are subject to earning limitations for the first 36 months following their retirement.
- Contributory Status: Retirees returning to work in a contributory status suspend their monthly retirement benefit until employment is terminated and are not subject to any earning limitations. These retirees contribute to TRS on the same terms as non-retirees and accumulate additional service years. These service years may be used to accrue a secondary retirement benefit. This is a second separate retirement – these years are not added the member’s initial retirement calculation.
Earning Limitations on Non-Contributory Employment
If you retire from TRS and continue to receive your monthly retirement benefit, you are in “non-contributory” post-retirement employment. After the mandatory 60 day break in your employment, you are subject to earning limitations until 36 months after your retirement. These earning limitations vary based on age:
Retired less than 36 months:
61 or younger: Earnings limit is the lesser of
- half your final average salary (used to calculate your retirement), OR
- the SSA annual earnings limit for those younger than full retirement age.
62 or Older: Earnings limit is the lesser of
- half of your final average salary (used to calculate your retirement), OR
Retired 36 months or more:
- No limit on earnings.
If you earn more than the stated limits in covered employment, your monthly retirement benefit will be reduced dollar for dollar on the excess amount starting the month after you exceed the limit. If you believe you will exceed the limit, you should notify TRS and either have monthly benefits reduced or plan how to repay any overpayment of retirement benefits by March 1 of the following calendar year.
Special Situations in Post-Retirement Employment
Any member under age 62 receiving disability retirement benefits from TRS is not eligible to be employed by any school, public or private, or to a position similar to the position held when disability benefits were approved. After age 62, a retiree receiving disability benefits will be eligible for post-retirement employment under the same conditions that apply to regular retirees. Disabled retirees may be employed in private industry or noneducation related governmental employment so long as combined earnings from such employment and the TRS disability payments do not exceed the final average salary used in calculating your retirement entitlement.
Working as a Consultant or Independent Contractor
Income from working as a consultant or independent contractor for a public school is exempt from the TRS earnings limit (for example, an athletics official or a conference presenter). However, consulting contracts must meet strict statutory requirements. Retirees who plan on performing consultant or independent contractor work for a TRS employer should contact TRS and provide documentation on the nature of the contract (including a job description). You cannot be an employee and consultant or independent contractor for the same school district. Contributions must be paid on earnings unless TRS approves the contract. Earnings for services performed pursuant to an approved contract will not be counted towards TRS’s earning limitations and post-retirement contributions will not be due from the TRS employer.
Exception to Post-Retirement Earning Limits:SB 267 (2021) created a limited exception to TRS postretirement earning limitations. If you retired on or before July 1, 2020, AND did not work in any public school in any capacity during the twelve-months immediately after your retirement date, you may be eligible to use this exception. Eligible retired members hired as classroom teachers will be eligible to work without any limitation on earnings from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024. These returning retirees must be hired on temporary contracts and will not receive any additional service credit towards their retirement calculation. Additional rules apply.
UPDATE: Effective July 1, 2021
Oklahoma State Bill 683 (Optional Personnel Membership in TRS) was signed by Governor Stitt on May 7, 2021 goes into effect July 1, 2021. This new law modifies eligibility requirements related to” non-classified (non-exempt, biweekly paid employees), optional employee membership” with the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Oklahoma. Optional membership in TRS is only available to individuals regularly employed for 20 hours or more per week. Supplemental employees such as; temporary, seasonal, adjunct, student work study and graduate student employees are not eligible for membership. This does not apply to employees in full time exempt positions considered classified positions with TRS. A summary of the new rules along with questions and answers are available at: https://oklahoma.gov/