FAQ

How do I log into my account?

Need to reset your password? Or having trouble logging into your account? See this help page for assistance.

How do I retire with DRS?

Start by requesting an official benefit estimate from DRS 3 to 12 months prior to your retirement date. See more steps to retire.

What are the DCP Roth and pretax limits?

2023 maximum: $22,500
2024 maximum: $23,000
These annual limits apply to DCP Roth and pretax contributions. This means whether you contribute to Roth, pretax or both, the combined totals must fall within these IRS annual limits for the DCP 457(b) program.

What if I have health care questions?

DRS does not provide retiree health care. These health care resources might help you find what you need.

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News February 15, 2024

School employees: how to time your retirement

Is it better to retire at the beginning of summer or at the end? When it comes to retirement for teachers and school employees, a few months can have a big impact. Before deciding on the month you want to retire, you need to understand how Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) and the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) affect your retirement benefits. How does COLA affect your benefit? Starting the first full year after retirement, DRS will adjust your monthly benefit on July 1 every year. The adjustment, known as a COLA, depends on the Seattle Consumer Price Index (CPI) percentage change, though the COLA is capped at 3% a year. If the CPI is higher than 3%, the additional COLA is banked. When the CPI is less than 3%, we add that amount to your benefit in future years. How does PEBB affect your benefit? During your school career, the School Employees’ Benefits Board (SEBB) covers your health insurance. As a retired public or school employee you have access to insurance options through the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB). To join PEBB, you must meet qualifications and enroll no later than 60 days after your employer-paid, COBRA or continuation coverage ends. Under PEBB, you will still be responsible to pay the Health Care Authority (HCA) monthly for your health insurance costs. How to choose: Decide when you want your COLA to start Look at the cost of your current employer-paid benefits versus the cost of retiree health insurance coverage during the last two months of your contract Retiring in July vs September Retiring in July If you separate from employment and end your contract in June you can retire starting July 1, 2024: You’ll receive your pension benefit plus your salary for July and August. Your COLA will be applied starting on July 1, 2025. Health insurance through SEBB program will end after June 30, 2024, and you will be responsible for your health insurance costs for July and August. However, if you’re eligible and meet PEBB’s procedural requirements, your retiree insurance coverage will start July 1, 2024. Retiring in September If you separate from employment and end your contract in August, you can retire starting Sept. 1, 2024: Your pension benefit will start in September. You missed the COLA, so we will bank it or set it aside until July 2026 when it goes into effect. This means that your COLA in 2026 could be bigger than it would have been if you had chosen to retire in July 2024. You’ll earn service credit for July and August unless you’re in TRS Plan 1. You’ll continue receiving SEBB program insurance coverage in July and August through your employer. Summary When you are eligible for it, the COLA is applied regardless of the month you choose to retire. As you transition from a working employee to a retiree, you need to consider your health coverage. This is an important decision. It's especially true if you have ongoing care, like prescriptions or treatment.   [reblex id='14232']

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News January 25, 2024

One teacher’s fulfilling solution

If you retired today, would you volunteer to work for free at the same place? Meet Cornelius Lopez. Cornelius is retired from Teachers’ Retirement System Plan 1. He taught math for 60 years; Forty-eight of those years were at McMurray Middle School on Vashon Island. After his retirement in June 2023, he began volunteering at the same school. “Well, I haven’t really retired,” says Cornelius. “I mean, officially I have. My hours are every bit as long as they ever were. I’m the first one there and the last one to leave. The only retirement is -- I’m no longer paid for what I do.” Why would someone retire and then volunteer to do the same job without pay? Cornelius says he didn’t plan it. “I’m 84 years old and I’ve been teaching for a long time, and the district was kind of in a budget crunch and part of the reason I retired was I didn’t want to see the building lose a couple of new, young, high-quality teachers.” The self-effacing former teacher says his hearing and vision aren’t what they used to be. “I had to keep asking the kids to repeat themselves. And I have distance glasses so I can read the board from the back of the room and reading glasses to help the kids up close. I saw it was time to try and cut back somehow.” He pauses and adds, “I haven’t really done that!” The thing is, he was doing what he loved at a place he loved with the people he loved. He found it difficult to take off his teaching hat and put away his slide rule; the job is just too rewarding. It might seem like a subtle difference from the outside looking in, but volunteering is a way for him to work with students and faculty without all the responsibilities as an employed teacher. In that sense, he’s definitely cut back. As a volunteer, he no longer has the concerns he once had -- attendance, contacting parents, grades, administrative observations and evaluations, meetings, hall duty or discipline. Mr. Lopez, as he’s known at school, enjoys helping teachers and students as a volunteer and he particularly enjoys working with kids who need extra support. Now that he’s retired, he’s able to help teachers too. He scores test papers when he’s done volunteering for the day and keeps an eye on any wayward middle school kids who might cause a distraction or wander off. “I’ve been asked to escort students who need to leave the classroom. This is middle school we’re talking about here. They tend to ‘get lost.’” Cornelius’s laugh is playful and contagious. It’s not hard to see why the kids and teachers love him. (For a glimpse of Mr. Lopez and the effect he has had on the lives of educators and children alike, view this KOMO News 4 “Eric’s Heroes” video segment taken on the day he retired.) He believes one small assist can reduce the teacher’s need for disciplining a student. As a volunteer he says he can “soften whatever issues that may come up” between a student and the teacher. He pauses and laughs again, professing he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. “I remind people you only get what you pay for!” Math is still his favorite subject and a lifelong passion. But it wasn’t always his best subject. “I struggled with it when I was a young kid in elementary school; never was at the top of the class.” But one thing Cornelius had was a strong work ethic handed down to him by his mother and father, and a lot of determination. He quotes Albert Einstein: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer,” adding, “if Einstein felt that way, it could be the same for all of us!” Cornelius wanted mastery over math and after a while it became fun for him. He started seeing math puzzles not problems, and that got him hooked. It was his minor in college and since math teachers are always sought after, it was a great choice for a secure future. “My major was geography, but the need for math teachers is always greater, so math became my specialty, my expertise and my passion,” he says. Cornelius has some teacherly advice for those who are getting ready to retire. Contact the Department of Retirement Systems EARLY. They are wonderful and they simplify everything for us! Check with a financial advisor; we all need a secure financial future! Check out the Health Care Authority insurance retirement options and cost. This is huge! Think hard about what you are going to do with all your extra free time; you don't want to be left staring at the ceiling! His optimism has served him well throughout his career as a teacher and in his current role as a retired volunteer. So, what’s his secret? “We are lucky if we are enjoying our day,” he says. “There are so many people on earth who aren't having a good day. I am having a GREAT day!” Thank you, Mr. Lopez. [reblex id='14232']

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