Teachers can teach as long as they desire and can also retire early. If you would like to earn a pension, however, you must wait until you reach retirement age, or close. The eligible age varies, depending on the pension system. Educators can receive pension from their state's Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) or from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The qualifications for retirement in both systems vary in some aspects. You can contact the TRS in your state or a local SSA office to determine whether you are eligible for retirement and pension.
Retirement with Social Security
The original age of eligibility for full social security benefits was 65. This changed with the 1983 Social Security Amendments, which increased it for people born after 1938, due to improved health and life expectancy. The SSA provides a calculator online that you can use to determine your full retirement age based on your birth year. However, you can retire earlier, at 62, and receive partial benefits from the SSA. Benefits from the SSA apply to teachers who have worked in the public sector. Teachers who work in the private sector pay into the state's TRS instead of SSA, and are only eligible for TRS benefits.
TRS Retirement Benefits
The age at which you retire and the number of your service years at the time can affect your eligibility for a pension from a TRS. In some states, teachers who retire at the age of 65 are eligible for full retirement benefits if they have worked for five or more years. In these states you are also eligible to receive full benefits if your age and years of service add up to a number that the state specifies. Teachers who retire earlier can receive reduced retirement benefits. To be eligible, you must be 55 or older with five or more service years, or younger than 50 with 30 years of service. Teachers who don't satisfy these requirements are ineligible for benefits when they retire.
Teachers can also retire at any age if the retirement is due to physical or mental disability. The disability might be permanent and of a nature that makes it difficult or impossible to continue with the duties required of a teacher. The amount of your monthly annuity from a TRS will depend on your length of service. In general, disabled educators who have worked for 10 years or more are entitled to full benefits, regardless of early retirement. Teachers who have worked fewer years will receive a lower amount for a limited time. Disabled educators in the public system can, instead, apply for disability benefits with the SSA.
TRS Retirement Income
The amount of income you will receive from your state's TRS depends on several factors. In most cases, these factors include the length of your membership in the system, the amount of income you received while you were working and whether your contributions to the system were capped at any level. You might be able to calculate your benefits online, at the website for your state's TRS.
- United Federation of Teachers: How Many Years do I Have to Work Before I Can Retire and Collect a Pension?
- Teacher Requirement System of Texas: Eligibility Requirements
- University of Oklahoma Human Resources: Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System
- Teacher Retirement System of Texas: Disability Retirement
- Social Security Administration: Retirement Age Calculator
- Social Security Administration: Retirement Planner: Benefits By Year Of Birth
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