Teacher Retirement System of Texas Withdrawal

Instructor: Jessica Keys
If you're a member of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas and you've ended your TRS-covered employment, check out this article for important information on requesting a refund, withdrawal, and the forfeiture of TRS benefits.

What is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas?

The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas is a pension fund, set up for the benefit of public education employees in the state who meet the following criteria:

  • You work at a single state-funded public institution for at least 4½ months out of the school year, or at least one full semester for higher education employees
  • You work for at least one-half of the full-time workload (usually 20 out of 40 hours)
  • Your compensation rate is comparable to that of other employees in similar positions.

After you retire, the TRS will provide a monthly payout to you for the rest of your life. Contributions to your fund mostly come from a small portion of your salary (as of September 1st, 2016, the member contribution rate is 7.7%), and participation is required by state law. However, you reserve the right to withdraw from this program and have your contributions refunded to you.

TRS Withdrawal: Am I Eligible?

Let's say you're currently a member of the TRS, but you decided to stop working for your TRS-covered employer. Whatever the reason, if you are no longer employed with a TRS-covered institution and you have neither applied for nor received an offer for any other TRS-eligible position, you may drop out of the TRS program and receive a full refund of your contribution.

How to Refund Your Account

First, visit the TRS website (at trs.texas.gov) and download the Application for Refund (TRS 6) form. Alternately, you can call the TRS at 1-800-223-8778; this is a 24-hour automated service.

You must complete and sign the TRS 6 in front of a notary, and the form must be notarized. Then, mail this form to the TRS, at:

Teacher Retirement System of Texas
1000 Red River Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2698

The TRS will now confirm your records, contributions and employment dates; your employer will have to submit your final monthly payroll report within a certain period of time.

  • If you have noted on your refund application that you intend to roll over your benefits to a different retirement plan, you will soon receive form (TRS 6A) - Refund Rollover Election. This form must also be signed by a representative of the other company's plan administrator and mailed to the TRS at the above address.
  • If the TRS determines that you have accumulated at least five years of service credit, you'll also get a Wavier of Benefits (TRS 287) form, which you must also mail to TRS. Signing this form means you are giving up this service credit, as well as eligibility for all TRS benefits and health care services (if applicable).

Finally, you will receive a warrant for refund from the State Comptroller of Public Accounts, usually within thirty days after all forms are received, and processing is complete. Please note that if you have since been re-employed in any TRS-eligible position, the Comptroller will not process the warrant. Your warrant may also be held if you owe state or federal taxes, child support or other such payments.

Points to Consider

While it may be tempting to claim your refund as soon as possible, you will want to consider all possible options and caveats before making the decision. For example:

  • Even if you are no longer a TRS-eligible employee, you may leave your contributions in your account, where they will generate interest. If you have fewer than five years of TRS service credit, you must claim your contribution within five years. However, if you have more than five years of service credit, you may leave your contribution in your account until you reach retirement age and apply for annuity.
  • You may also withdraw your contribution and opt to roll over your eligible benefits to another retirement plan or an IRA. The TRS has attached a special form to the refund application (TRS 6) that contains more information on rollover options, including how these affect your income taxes.
  • If you have participated or are currently participating in another Texas public retirement plan, make sure to investigate whether ending your membership in the TRS will affect your benefits in the other system (for example, if you are combining service credits in two different organizations to satisfy certain eligibility requirements).
  • Note that requesting and receiving a refund means forfeiting however many years of service credit you have accumulated with the TRS. If you happen to return to work for a TRS-eligible employer, you will be reinstated into the system. However, you will have to pay back any costs for withdrawn service credit.

More information about your TRS fund, eligibility, benefits and the withdrawal process can be found on the TRS website (at trs.texas.gov).

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