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Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Featured, from left: Gene Powell of San Antonio, who was raised in Weslaco, the Chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 in Edinburg for the groundbreaking of the $54 million UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. Muñoz is a co-sponsor in 2013 of legislation that created the medical school, which will provide the first two years of medical education in Edinburg.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

More than 365,000 persons who receive their pension, death and survivor benefits from the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) will soon get their monthly payments on the last working day of the month instead of the first working day of the following month under legislation by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, which has been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. “For too long, the state of Texas has generated money off the backs of TRS beneficiaries by unfairly accumulating interest, which did not go to the retirees or their survivors, by delaying for up to three days a month the money owed to them,” said Muñoz. “Beginning this September 1, that process will change for the better, and people will get the money owes them without delay.” Muñoz is the author of House Bill 2168, sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, which was signed into law by the governor on Wednesday, June 17. Eligible retirees, which include those who receive a disability pension, and their beneficiaries will first see the effect of this new law with their September 2015 pension, death or survivor benefits, which will be paid on Wednesday, September 30, rather than Thursday, October 1, the House District 36 lawmaker said. “But beginning with the October payment, people will really see the difference,” Muñoz further illustrated. “The TRS will issue pension and benefit payments on Friday, October 30, which is the last working day of the month, instead of Monday, November 2.” The Texas Retired Teachers Association, which had been following the fate of HB 2168, praised the measure in its update to its membership in early June, noting the unfairness of delaying the payments. “This practice allows the state of Texas to hold hundreds of millions of dollars in owed TRS annuity payments several days past the month they are owed,” the TRTA stated. “While this budgeting trick may have helped the state, it does not put the hard-earned annuity dollars in the hands of retirees in the same month they are owed.” With the passage of HB 2168, “retirees are one step closer to being treated like all other state retirees. Their annuity checks will be deposited on the last working day of the month they are owed. This is great news for TRS retirees as their payments will come on time and will not be delayed by weekends or holidays,” the TRTA statement added. The Texas Retired Teacher Association is the largest association in the nation for retired teachers with a history of active involvement in the well-being of their communities, according to its website, http://www.trta.org. In 2016, there will be five months where in the past, TRS would have waited three days before issuing the monthly payments. But the new law will get that money to the retirees and beneficiaries sooner.

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Teacher Retirement System to speed up monthly pension payments to more than 365,000 retired public educators and their beneficiaries under law authored by Rep. Muñoz, sponsored by Sen. Lucio

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

More than 365,000 persons who receive their pension, death and survivor benefits from the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) will soon get their monthly payments on the last working day of the month instead of the first working day of the following month under legislation by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, which has been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“For too long, the state of Texas has generated money off the backs of TRS beneficiaries by unfairly accumulating interest, which did not go to the retirees or their survivors, by delaying for up to three days a month the money owed to them,” said Muñoz. “Beginning this September 1, that process will change for the better, and people will get the money owes them without delay.”

Muñoz is the author of House Bill 2168, sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, which was signed into law by the governor on Wednesday, June 17.

Eligible retirees, which include those who receive a disability pension, and their beneficiaries will first see the effect of this new law with their September 2015 pension, death or survivor benefits, which will be paid on Wednesday, September 30, rather than Thursday, October 1, the House District 36 lawmaker said.

“But beginning with the October payment, people will really see the difference,” Muñoz further illustrated. “The TRS will issue pension and benefit payments on Friday, October 30, which is the last working day of the month, instead of Monday, November 2.”

The Texas Retired Teachers Association, which had been following the fate of HB 2168, praised the measure in its update to its membership in early June, noting the unfairness of delaying the payments.

“This practice allows the state of Texas to hold hundreds of millions of dollars in owed TRS annuity payments several days past the month they are owed,” the TRTA stated. “While this budgeting trick may have helped the state, it does not put the hard-earned annuity dollars in the hands of retirees in the same month they are owed.”

With the passage of HB 2168, “retirees are one step closer to being treated like all other state retirees. Their annuity checks will be deposited on the last working day of the month they are owed. This is great news for TRS retirees as their payments will come on time and will not be delayed by weekends or holidays,” the TRTA statement added.

The Texas Retired Teacher Association is the largest association in the nation for retired teachers with a history of active involvement in the well-being of their communities, according to its website, http://www.trta.org.

In 2016, there will be five months where in the past, TRS would have waited three days before issuing the monthly payments. But the new law will get that money to the retirees and beneficiaries sooner.

• TRS payments will now be made on Friday January 29, instead of Monday, February 1;
• TRS payments will now be made on Friday, April 29, instead of Monday, May 2;
• TRS payments will now be made on Friday, July 29 instead of Monday, August 1;
• TRS payments will now be made on Friday, September 30 instead of Monday, October 3; and
• TRS payments will now be made on Friday, December 30 instead of Monday, January 1, 2017.

According to the bill analysis of his measure, prior to HB 2168 becoming law, Government Code, sec. 824.003 stated that monthly retirement benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas generally are due to be paid on the first working day of each month following the month for which the payment accrues.

When a month begins on a weekend or holiday annuity payments generally are not paid until after that weekend or holiday, the bill analysis continued. This meant that retirees who depend on those benefits must wait several days.

Among the individuals and organizations that testified or registered in support of HB 2168 were Dwight Harris, Texas American Federation of Teachers; Timothy Lee, Texas Retired Teachers Association; Josh Sanderson, Association of Texas Professional Educators; and Ann Fickel, Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

TRS administers a defined benefit retirement plan that is a qualified pension trust under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, according to the state agency. The pension trust fund provides service and disability retirement, as well as death and survivor benefits, to eligible Texas public education employees and their beneficiaries.

According to the Teacher Retirement System, retired public educators have a major economic impact on the state economy and quality-of-life:

While many Texans know that TRS provides pension benefits to eligible Texas public education and higher education employees, most don’t realize how significant that value can be.

TRS has recently published an updated TRS: A Great Value for All Texans brochure and accompanying video, which help quantify how the TRS Pension Plan benefits the state and its residents.

View the new brochure and video at http://www.trs.state.tx.us.

TRS not only provides value to its members, but it also adds significant dollars to the state and local economies. For example:

RETIREMENT BENEFITS

• In 2014, TRS paid over $8.5 billion in retirement benefits to more than 365,000 retirees. Nearly 95% of these benefit payments, or approximately $8 billion, went directly to members who live and spend these dollars in Texas.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS

• Retirees spending their benefits provide a notable economic stimulus to communities throughout the state. When spent locally, these payments generate additional expenditures on an ongoing basis.

TAX REVENUE

• Retirement benefits and the economic stimulus that benefits produce generate tax revenue.

• Approximately $892 million in state revenues and $342 million in local government revenues were generated in 2014.

BENEFITS FROM MEMBER CONTRIBUTIONS

• By contributing to TRS, school employees are investing in a retirement program that provides several major advantages:

• Retirement security – TRS ensures that its members have a benefit they can count on, relieving much of the stress of retirement planning.

• Freedom from investment decisions – Rather than having to buy and sell investments, rebalance portfolios and reallocate assets based on their age, TRS members can count on a strong team to manage their contributions before and after retirement.

• Protection from investment risk – TRS members are assured that their pensions will not be affected even by declines in financial markets.

• Certainty of payments – TRS members know that they will not outlive their monthly benefits, and they have the option of selecting a payment plan that continues annuity payments throughout their lifetime or that of their beneficiary, whichever is longer.

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Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, has served in the Texas Legislature since 2011 and represents all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. His Capitol office is located at E1.508 in the Capitol extension, and may be reached at (512) 463-0704. His District Office is located at 121 E. Tom Landry, Mission, and may be reached at (956) 584-8999.

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