New legislation could bring changes to teachers' retirement - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

New legislation could bring changes to teachers' retirement


Two new bills could make some Texas teachers have to work a little bit longer.

State House bill 1884 and State Senate bill 1458 are looking to bring some changes to the Texas Teacher Retirement System starting in September, including raising the minimum retirement age.

State Representative Matt Schaefer says it all comes down to math.

"The longer you wait, the larger the numbers get," Schaefer said. "You can make relatively small changes now that will fill a hole 3 decades from now."

Right now, teachers receive full retirement benefits once they turn 60 years old and meet "the rule of 80," or the sum of their age and the number of years they have served.

Schaefer said that won't change for current teachers, but new teachers will have to wait until 62 to receive full retirement benefits.

Contributions into the system will also go up.

Teachers will contribute 7.7%, up from 6.4%. The school district will kick in 1.5%. The state will bump up their number from 6% to 6.8%.

"If this deal is successful, everyone will have felt a little bit of pain," Schaefer said. "That is because we're trying to do what's best for the long run for teachers and for our school system."

Smith County Retired Teachers and School Personnel Association President Dr. Wayne Berryman says it will also help those who have already retired.

"If you don't have actuarial soundness, then all you keep is what you have when you retired," Berryman said. "If you live a long time, you're going to be living on a whole lot less money then you retired with."

The proposal calls for the first cost of living adjustment for retirees in 12 years, raising it 3% for those that retired in or before 1999.

Future teachers said they don't mind the changes.

"I assume that if I'm teaching, I'm going to love the job," Antonio Soegaard said. "So I wouldn't mind teaching students for two extra years."

"Yes, they're taking more out of my check now, but that's more money I'm going to have when I don't have a job," Shakellay Williams said. "So the money is going to benefit me in the long run."

Schaefer said he urges people to be patient with the process as both bills are still being discussed and revised.

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