Members

Using Service Credit Earned Outside the Washington State Teachers' Retirement System

For members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) Plan 2

Updated October 2013
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If you are a member of TRS Plan 2, you have two options that allow you to use service credit earned as a teacher outside TRS:

Out-of-State Service Credit Program Public Education Experience Program

You may take advantage of one or both of these programs. See example.

How do I decide which way to use service credit earned outside TRS?

This will depend on your personal situation, and the eligibility rules as described inside this brochure. The table below shows some of the key differences between the two ways you may use service credit.

Out-of-State Service Credit Program Public Education Experience Program
No payment required Payment is required
No limit to how much out-of-state service credit you may use You may purchase up to seven years of service credit
Service credit must be earned in an out-of-state public retirement system that covers teachers Service credit must be earned as a teacher in a public school in another U.S. state or with the U.S. federal government and covered by a retirement or pension system
Allows you to qualify for early retirement Allows you to qualify for normal or early retirement
Retirement benefit is based only on your Washington State service credit; the out-of-state service credit is not used in your benefit calculation Retirement benefit is based on both your TRS service credit and the service credit you purchase
Must be a vested member of TRS Must be an active member with two years of TRS service credit

See Out-of-State Service Credit Program and Public Education Experience Program below for a complete description of each of these programs.

Out-of-State Service Credit Program

If you are a vested member of TRS Plan 2 you may use service credit earned in an out-of-state public retirement system that covers teachers to qualify for early retirement. However, it's important to remember that only your Washington State service credit will be used to calculate your retirement benefit. For any out-of-state service credit used, your benefit will be reduced for each year you are under age 65.

What is my normal retirement age?

You are eligible for normal retirement at age 65 if you have at least five service credit years.

What is the earliest age I can retire?

Retirement before age 65 is considered an early retirement. You can retire as early as age 55 with a reduced benefit if you have at least 20 service credit years. There is less of a benefit reduction for early retirement if you have 30 or more years of service credit.

In some cases you can retire at age 62 with an unreduced benefit (see the early retirement factors table).

How can I use out-of-state service credit?

If you have enough Washington State service credit to qualify for a normal retirement at age 65, there is no need to use your out-of-state service credit.

If you do not have enough Washington State service credit to retire early with at least 20 years, and you are at least age 55, you may use your out-of-state service credit to qualify for and begin collecting a benefit. However, your benefit will be reduced for each year you are under age 65.

If you have at least 20 years of Washington State service credit, and you want to reach 30 years, you may qualify for a smaller benefit reduction if you use your out-of-state service credit.

How do the benefit reductions apply if I use out-of-state service to reach 20 years of service credit?

If you use out-of-state service credit to reach 20 years, your benefit will be reduced for each year you are under age 65.

Example:

Suppose you are 57 years of age with 17 years of Washington State service credit and a monthly Average Final Compensation (AFC) of $5,000. You have three years of out-of-state service credit that you could use to meet the 20-year service requirement for early retirement. Your benefit would be reduced based on the difference between your age (57) and the normal retirement age (65). Your early retirement factor would be .442 in this case, because you are eight years away from age 65. While your out-of-state credit helps you qualify for retirement, your benefit is calculated using only the 17 years of Washington State service credit.

Here's how the calculation works:

Service Credit Years x 2% x AFC x Early Retirement Factor = Monthly Benefit

17 x 2% x $5,000 x .442 = $751.40

Your monthly retirement benefit would be $751.40.


How do the benefit reductions apply if I use out-of-state service to reach 30 years of service credit?

There are two reduction factors that apply if you use your out-of-state service to retire with 30 service credit years. One reduction factor is based on the amount of out-of-state service credit you are using to reach 30 years. The other reduction factor is determined by subtracting the out-of-state service credit you are using from the total number of years you are retiring early.

Example:

Suppose you are age 57 with 25 years of Washington State service credit and a monthly AFC of $5,000. You plan to retire on November 1, 2016. If you retire without using the out-of-state service program, your benefit would be reduced by a factor of 0.442 (you are retiring eight years early with 25 years of service). However, if you have five years of out-of-state service, you qualify for the reduction factors available to those with 30 years of service and your benefit reduction would be smaller. Here are the steps for calculating your benefit:

Step 1 – Determine your base benefit

TRS Service Credit Years x 2% x AFC = Base Benefit

25 x 2% x $5,000 = $2,500

Step 2 – Determine the first benefit reduction

The factor is based on the number of years of out-of-state service you are using. In the following chart, use the column for at least 20 years of service. The factor for five years is .594.

Base Benefit x Reduction Factor 1 = Reduced Benefit 1

$2,500 x .594 = $1,485

Step 3 – Determine the final reduced benefit

The final factor is determined by subtracting the years of out-of-state service you are using to reach 30 years from the total number of years you are retiring early (8 – 5 = 3 years). In the following chart, use the columns for 30 years or more of service.

Because you were hired before May 1, 2013, and you are retiring after September 1, 2008, you can choose which factor to use – either 1.00 (the 2008 Early Retirement Factor [ERF]) or 0.91 (the three percent ERF).

Reduced Benefit 1 x Reduction Factor 2 = Final Reduced Benefit

Your benefit using the 2008 ERF: $1,485 x 1.00 = $1,485

Your benefit using the three percent ERF: $1,485 x 0.91 = $1,351.35

The 2008 ERF provides a smaller benefit reduction, but imposes stricter return to work rules. Please see the Thinking About Retiring Early? brochure for more information.

Early Retirement Factors
Years to age 65 At least 20 years service 30 years or more service (prorated monthly)
3% ERF 2008 ERF* 5% ERF**
10 0.358 0.70 0.80 0.50
9 0.395 0.73 0.83 0.55
8 0.435 0.76 0.86 0.60
7 0.481 0.79 0.89 0.65
6 0.531 0.82 0.92 0.70
5 0.588 0.85 0.95 0.75
4 0.652 0.88 0.98 0.80
3 0.724 0.91 1.00 0.85
2 0.805 0.94 1.00 0.90
1 0.896 0.97 1.00 0.95

*These factors were available beginning 9/1/2008, and were established by legislation which ended gain sharing. If a court of law decides the repeal of gain sharing is invalid, the factors and return to work rules in place before passage of the law will apply.

**If you were hired on or after May 1, 2013, have 30 years of service credit and are age 55 or older, your ERF reduces your benefit by 5% for each year (prorated monthly) before age 65.

Public Education Experience Program

Eligible members of TRS Plan 2 can purchase service credit for public education experience earned as a teacher (as defined by your former retirement system) outside TRS. The service credit that is purchased is considered membership service, may be used to qualify for normal or early retirement, and will be used in calculating your benefit. To help determine your costs, you may wish to use the online Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) calculator for Public Education Experience.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be an active member of TRS Plan 2; and
  • Have earned at least two years of TRS service credit.

How much can I purchase?

You may purchase up to seven years of service credit in whole month increments. Multiple purchases are not allowed. For example, if you purchased four years of public education experience, you will not be able to make another purchase even though your total is less than seven years.

What type of public education experience qualifies for service credit purchase?

Qualifying public education experience is that which you have earned as a teacher in a public school in another U.S. state or with the U.S. federal government. You must have been granted service credit in a retirement or pension system for working as a teacher. Your former retirement system will be required to verify this information on your service credit purchase application.

How much does it cost to purchase the service credit?

You must pay the actuarial equivalent value of the resulting increase in your future benefit. The actuarial equivalent value is the amount needed today to pay for the increase in your monthly benefit over your lifetime.

We use this service credit purchase formula to calculate your cost:

Annual Average Final Compensation (AFC) x
Service Credit Months x Purchase Factor = Cost

Average Final Compensation is the monthly average of your 60 consecutive highest-paid service credit months. If you have fewer than 60 months of service credit, your average earnings for the period of time you have worked in TRS will be used in the calculation.

Service Credit Months is the number of months of service credit you would like to purchase.

The Purchase Factors are based on the number of years between your age at the date you purchase the service credit and the age at which you would be eligible for a normal retirement. The example below shows you how the service credit purchase formula works.

Example:

Ron is an active TRS Plan 2 member who currently has 17 years of service and wants to purchase three years of service credit to reach 20 years. Ron is 61. His monthly AFC is $4,166.

Ron is eligible for normal retirement at age 65. Since Ron is currently 61, he has four years until normal retirement. The purchase factor for four years is 0.2151.

We calculate the cost of Ron's service credit purchase like this:

AFC x Service Credit Months x Purchase Factor = Cost

$4,166 x 36 x 0.2151 = $32,260

Ron's total cost to purchase three years of service credit is $32,260.


Do I need to give up my right to a benefit from my former public retirement system for the service credit I purchase in TRS?

No. At the time you purchase service credit in TRS, you only need to prove that:

  • You are not currently receiving a benefit from your former system; and
  • You are not currently eligible for an unreduced benefit from your former public retirement system.

Your former retirement system must verify this information on your application.

When do I pay?

You must pay your service credit bill in full within 90 days of the bill issue date. You will receive your bill after we receive your application.

Can I make installment payments?

You are not allowed to make installment payments.

How do I pay?

Payment must be made in full in a lump sum. You may make direct payment with either a personal or cashier's check. In many cases it's also possible to transfer funds from another eligible retirement account to pay your bill. However, DRS cannot accept funds in excess of the cost to make your purchase. You are advised to check with the administrator of your account to see if you can transfer those dollars. DRS is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 401(a) account.

Can I retire before I send DRS my payment?

No. We must receive your complete payment before you retire.

Can my employer choose to contribute to the purchase?

Your employer may choose to contribute to the cost of your service credit purchase. Payments sent in by employers must reference your bill number on the check.

Can I purchase this service credit if I am a substitute teacher?

Yes. If you are a substitute teacher who is currently reported by your employer as an active substitute and you meet the eligibility requirements.

How is my payment applied to my account?

Your entire payment will be applied to your member account when paid in full.

What happens to my payment if I quit work and withdraw my contributions?

When you separate from employment and request a refund of your contributions, the payment you made to purchase this service credit will be refunded to you.

How do I apply for one or both of th.0ese programs?

The application must be completed by you and your former retirement system to verify your previous service.

Complete Section 1 of the application. Send it to the retirement system where you earned the service credit. The retirement system should complete Section 2 and return the application to DRS. Please refer to the instructions on the back of the application.

How do I take advantage of both programs?

The following example shows how to take advantage of both programs:

Mary is 60 years of age with 13 years of Washington State service credit and would like to retire. Mary has seven years of service credit earned in another state that she can use to meet the 20-year service requirement for early retirement. She decides to purchase five years under the Public Education Experience Program and use two years to qualify under the Out-of-State Service Credit Program. Mary must purchase her Public Education Experience Service Credit while she is an active member. This is an example of Mary's cost:

Example:

AFC x Service Credit Months x Purchase Factor = Cost

$4,333 x 60 x .2081 = $54,102

Mary's total cost to purchase five years of service credit is $54,102.

Once Mary purchases the five years of service credit, it is applied to her total membership service. Now she has 18 years of service credit. If she uses her other two years to qualify for early retirement, her benefit will be reduced based on her age (60) and the normal retirement age (65). In this case an early retirement factor of .594 would be applied, as Mary would have 20 years of service and be five years away from 65. Mary's benefit will be calculated using only the 18 years of Washington State service credit. Below is an example of how the calculation works:

Example:

TRS Service Credit Years x 2% x AFC x Early Retirement Factor = Monthly Benefit

18 x 2% x $4,333 x .594 = $926.57

Mary's monthly retirement benefit would be $926.57.

Purchase Factors
Years to normal
retirement
Factor
10 0.1765
9 0.1824
8 0.1885
7 0.1949
6 0.2014
5 0.2081
4 0.2151
3 0.2223
2 0.2297
1 0.2374
0 0.2454

If you have questions, or would like more information about using service credit earned as a teacher outside the Washington State retirement system, contact DRS.