It's never too early to begin preparing and we're here to help. Be sure to take a look at our checklist of retirement planning steps that includes not only the "what," but also the "when."
You're considered retired once you begin receiving a retirement benefit. This is usually the first of the month after the month you've separated from employment.
If you separate from employment, but wait to start drawing a benefit, you'll be considered retired once you do begin receiving it.
TRS 1 Qualifier
If you are not currently employed in a TRS covered position, your retirement date is your birth date.
There are two catch-up options you can use to defer additional money to your DCP account. For details, call us at 1-888-327-5596 and select option 2.
You are guaranteed a retirement benefit for your lifetime and, if you choose a survivor option, for the lifetime of your survivor.
Our goal is for you to receive your benefit payment by the end of the month.
If you choose direct deposit, and it has become effective, you will receive your first benefit payment by the last banking day in the month you retire (a banking day is any day the bank is open) .
Direct deposit example:
You retired on March 1, and the last banking day of the month is March 31. You will receive your payment by March 31. See When am I considered retired?
If you don’t choose direct deposit, we will mail your paper check with the intention of it reaching you by the end of the month.
Paper payment example:
You retired on March 1. You should receive your paper payment by March 31 or shortly after. Sometimes, the US mail may cause a delay. See When am I considered retired?
Please note: We're only able to send your check to one bank account. If you would like your payment deposited in two accounts, be sure to arrange with your bank for an automatic transfer of funds.
Deductions to your retirement benefit check can include:
The good news is – some of the payroll deductions you currently see (Social Security, Medicare) will not be taken from your retirement benefit.
It depends on your age and your service credit.
You can begin drawing your retirement benefit when you:
You can retire earlier by forfeiting up to 45 days of sick leave. For example, if you have 45 days of sick leave and are age 60 or older, you may retire with four years and 10 months of service credit. (If you've cashed out the sick leave, however, you can't use it for this purpose.) The sick leave won't be part of your benefit calculation. If you plan to use sick leave to retire earlier, please call us before you leave your position.
You may also be able to use service credit earned in another state to retire earlier. To learn more, please see Can service credit I earned in another state be used to qualify for retirement?
You can use our online service to estimate your benefit or, if you are within two years of retirement, please call us at (360) 664-7000 or 1-800-547-6657 to request a written estimate. Here is the formula we will use to calculate your monthly benefit:
2 percent x Average Final Compensation x Service Credit Years (maximum of 30 years) ÷ 12 = Monthly Benefit
Withdrawing even a portion of your contributions reduces your benefit (the only exception would be any contributions that members with more than 30 years of service make under the Post 30-Year Program).
Average your annual salary from the highest-paid two consecutive fiscal years (July 1 – June 30), no matter when that is in your career.
If you are eligible to cash out leave, you may be able to use all or part of its value in the calculation of your Average Final Compensation (AFC). However, you can only include leave cash outs earned within your AFC period (your highest-paid two consecutive service credit fiscal years).
The administration of leave cash outs can vary, based on your position. Contact your payroll officer for more information.
Each option has both benefits and consequences you will need to evaluate. Before making a decision, it's a good idea to consult a licensed tax advisor, estate planner, or financial planner who specializes in retirement law and planning.
You'll want to consider the following:
There isn't a simple answer that applies to everyone. We hope you'll try the Optional COLA Calculator to get an estimate based on your information.
Yes. When you retire, you can roll any contributions you've made since enrolling in the Post 30-Year Program into DCP. Remember - when you withdraw DCP funds, you may need to pay taxes.
Applying for retirement – online
Go to your online retirement account. Log in (or sign up if you haven't already done so). The online retirement application will display only what you need based on your retirement system, plan and retirement eligibility rules. Follow the step-by-step instructions and electronically submit the application to us when you're ready. If you encounter any issues during the process, don't give up! Just give us a call and we will help walk you through it.
Applying for retirement – paper application packet
When you are ready to begin the process, request a retirement application from us. Be sure to submit the completed application with all required signatures and documentation, including proof of age for your survivor if you choose one of the options with a survivor benefit.
Remember, if you're purchasing service credit, you'll need to complete and turn in your purchase form with your retirement application.
If you prefer to talk with a Retirement Specialist in person, you can stop by our Olympia office anytime during our normal business hours of 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday, excluding holidays. It works best if you first request an estimate and retirement packet and have enough time to look it over before you visit. That will give your Retirement Specialist specific information to go over with you and also ensure your questions are answered.
You can reach us at (360) 664-7000 or 800-547-6657. Here are directions and a map to DRS.
During the month of your retirement, we will send you notification with the amount of your benefit and the date you can expect to receive your first payment. Any time you have questions, be sure to call.
Here are a few things to consider when moving outside the country or state:
If you're vested (five years of service credit), you can use service credit earned in another state's public school teachers' system to help you retire early. The out-of-state service will not be used in your benefit calculation and your benefit will be reduced based on how much earlier you can start receiving your benefit. To learn more, contact us by phone, e-mail, or mail.
If you're an active member in any of the retirement systems listed below and you once belonged to another of these systems, you may be eligible for benefits as a "dual member."
There are three advantages to being a dual member:
To find out more about retiring as a dual member, see What is dual membership and how does it affect me?
If you were a member of SCERS, please call us at (360) 664-7000 or 1-800-547-6657 for information about dual membership with SCERS.