While you are employed in a TRS covered position, as stated in Georgia law, you cannot make withdrawals or borrow funds from your account. If you terminate your TRS covered employment you may apply for a refund of contributions and interest. However, you are not eligible for a refund after you accept other TRS covered employment.
The fact that you are not actively employed during the summer months because the school year has ended cannot be considered as termination from TRS covered employment.
Your refund from TRS is a lump-sum distribution of the contributions and interest in your account. The taxable portion of your refund is subject to federal and Georgia taxes. To defer taxation, you may elect a direct rollover of the taxable funds in your account to:
- another qualified retirement plan — 401(a), 403(a) or 401(k);
- a 403(b) tax sheltered annuity;
- a governmental 457 plan; or
- a traditional or rollover IRA and a Roth IRA.
If you do not elect a rollover, federal tax law requires that TRS withhold 20% federal tax from the taxable portion of your refund. You may also be required to pay an additional 10% federal tax on early distribution when you separate from service before the year in which you reach 55.
TRS will not withhold the additional 10%. However, you will pay this tax at the time you complete your federal tax return for the year in which you receive your refund. Georgia tax withholding from your refund check is not mandatory and may be paid when you file your Georgia tax return.
If you have at least 10 years of creditable service, you have a vested right to a monthly benefit at the time you reach age 60. You will receive a benefit estimate and waiver election form. In order to continue your refund processing you must waive your right to a monthly benefit. In lieu of a refund you may freeze your account and apply for a monthly benefit as early as 180 days prior to your 60th birthday. If you are already age 60 with 10 years of creditable service you may immediately be eligible for a monthly benefit. If you withdraw your funds, you forfeit all rights to a monthly benefit. Please contact TRS for additional information.
TRS will issue the refund check in the first weekly payroll after the 30th day following receipt of your signed summary page, election form (if applicable), acceptable valid ID and employer’s certification report.
To apply for a refund of contributions, login to your account, and then click Apply for Refund of Contributions on the right navigation panel. Please read all instructions carefully and fully complete the application to avoid delays in processing your refund.
At the end of the process, to ensure the security of your funds, you must print and sign a copy of the summary page, and then mail or fax this document to TRS along with a copy of a valid form of government issued identification:
- a state issued driver’s license or ID card,
- a certified birth certificate,
- the identification page from a passport,
- or immigration papers.