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Welcome to the Teachers Retirement Association
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Welcome to the Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association!

Below are some frequently asked questions by new members.

What is the Teachers Retirement Association?
How does TRA play a part in my future?
Why am I a member?
How much do I contribute to TRA?
How does TRA work?
When am I vested?
How do I earn service credit?
What if I have service credit with another pension fund?
What if I change jobs?
What if I change jobs to a position that is not covered by TRA?
What happens to my account if I die?
How much will my pension be?
Can I take a loan from my account?
What if I have a question?

 

So, what is the Teachers Retirement Association (TRA)?

TRA is a defined-benefit pension plan designed to provide retirement benefits to Minnesota’s public educators.

What services provided by TRA are the most useful to you?

"Strong professional money management, open flow of information, accurate data."
                 quote from a TRA member retiring in five years

A defined benefit pension is a monthly lifetime benefit (an annuity) at retirement. The amount of the benefit is determined using a formula based on salary, years of service credit, and age. The plan bears the investment risk and fees are very low.

A pension is not the same as a 401(k) or other defined contribution plans. A defined contribution benefit is based on employer and employee contributions to an account in which the participant controls investment choices. The participant is responsible for fees. Vesting is immediate, and the account may move with the employee. The employee bears investment risk and might outlive his or her savings.

Although you cannot contribute more to your TRA pension, you can make additional contributions to your retirement by participating in supplemental retirement plans.

How does TRA play a part in my future?

A healthy retirement consists of multiple sources of income.

Together with Social Security and personal savings, your TRA pension is a key piece of your financial portfolio.

Check with your school’s HR office for supplemental retirement plans in which you can participate, such as a 403(b) or 457 deferred compensation plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I a member?

Your position meets eligibility qualifications as defined by Minnesota Statute. Payroll contributions are mandatory.

 

How much do I contribute to TRA?

Under current law, you contribute 7.5 percent of eligible gross salary; your employer also contributes 7.5 percent. Those dollars are invested for your future.

TRA contributions will show up as a before-tax deduction on each pay stub.

 

How does TRA work?

You begin building your retirement benefit on your very first day of employment -- so you are already saving for retirement.

It’s a communal approach in which the pension assets of 180,000 members are pooled and the investment risk shared. The professionals at the Minnesota State Board of Investment assume the investing responsibility and use a long-term investment strategy.

Once you earn three years of service credit, you are vested and become eligible for retirement, disability and survivor benefits. When you retire, you receive a monthly check for the rest of your life. Your benefit is based on your years of service credit, your highest five years of salary, and your age when you start your benefit.

 

When am I vested?

Once you earn three years of service credit, you are vested and become eligible for retirement, disability and survivor benefits.

If you have six months or more of service credit with another Minnesota public pension fund, you may use that for vesting purposes.

 

How do I earn service credit?

Most members earn one year of service credit for each school year. Those working part-time or as substitute teachers earn partial service credit.

Service credit is one part of the formula for calculating your benefits.

 

What if I have service credit with another pension fund?

If you have service with another Minnesota public pension plan, you might be eligible for a Combined Service Annuity at the time of your retirement.

If you were employed in a city, county, or state position in Minnesota, you may have service credit at Public Employees Retirement Association, Minnesota State Retirement System, or St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association.

Watch a short video on what a Combined Service Annuity is all about.

If you have service with an out-of-state pension plan, you may want to check with that plan for your options. Currently, Minnesota TRA does not allow purchase of out-of-state pension service credit.

 

What if I change jobs?

If the position is with another TRA-covered employer, your TRA account remains active and your pension continues to grow. (TRA covers all Minnesota public schools, charter schools, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), with a few exceptions.)

If the position is with a city, county, or state public employer in Minnesota, your service credit may work in conjunction with your TRA service. Check with the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) or the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS).

 

What if I change jobs to a position that is not covered by TRA?

If you change jobs to a position that is not covered by TRA, you will be considered an inactive member and have the following options:

 

What happens to my account if I die?

If you are not vested, your beneficiaries are eligible for a lump sum payment of your member contributions, plus interest.

If you are vested, your beneficiaries receive either a lump sum payment or lifetime benefits.

We encourage you to keep your beneficiary designation up to date. The form (appropriate to your marital status) can be printed from your MyTRA page.

 

How much will my pension be?

The formula to calculate your benefit uses your years of service credit, salary, and age.

So the longer you work, the more you make, and the older you are, the higher your benefit.

Our average benefit recipient receives between 40-45% of their salary; for example,

Age at retirement 55 62 66
Years of service credit 23 yrs 30 yrs 34 yrs
High-5 salary $60,000 $65,000 $70,000
Annual benefit amount $12,036 $31,080 $45,216

The average TRA retiree's benefit is about $2,300 a month. You would need between $425,000 and $525,000 in a 401(k) or 403(b) account to achieve a similar benefit. This assumes you live an average life expectancy and earn at least 4 percent annually on your investments during retirement, which is not easy.

A TRA pension provides income for life. That's a payout of between $650,000 (men) and $750,000 (women) over a retirement lifetime -- assuming you retire at age 62.

 

Can I take a loan from my account?

No, you cannot borrow from your account. However, upon ending employment, you have options to access your account.

 

What if I have a question?

Call, click or visit TRA if you have any questions:

Call Monday through Friday, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.
About 95 percent of all questions can be answered by our phone counselors.

Click the Contact Us link. You can email or chat with us.

Visit one of our offices. Make an appointment for an individual counseling session in
St. Paul, Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, or Detroit Lakes.

Contact your HR representative or administrator to request a TRA benefits presentation at your school.

Know your benefits

If, during your career, you wish to learn more about your TRA benefits, refer to the TRA Member Benefits and Services Handbook.

Additional information can be found under Member, Active Member and under Forms and Publications on the left navigation pane.

 

 

 

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