Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19 and Teachers Retirement System for Members, Retirees, and Employers
Active Member FAQ’s
Q: Are the TRS offices open in Atlanta?
A: No, our offices are closed to the public at this time. While we have limited essential personnel working in the Atlanta offices, most of our TRS team is successfully working remotely to service the needs of our members. Our agency is fully functional at this time despite changes to our workplace brought about by COVID-19.
Q: Will members get service credit for the time schools are closed?
A: Members will get service credit for the time they are in pay status in a 50% or greater, permanent position. Employers should continue to withhold contributions each month.
Q: What does the decline in the stock market mean for my TRS account?
A: TRS is a defined benefit plan, so members’ accounts and retirees’ benefits are not affected by changes in the stock market.
Q: Will TRS complete the processing of my (re-retirement) application if the governor mandates statewide “shelter in place” for the entire state?
A: Yes, we are continuing to function at TRS and will do so even with a “shelter in place” order.
Q: What are the available methods for submitting requested information and documents to TRS?
A: The preferred method is uploading documents through our website via your online account. Our personnel are available by phone to assist you in uploading documents. You may also email or fax documentation.
Q: I get paid by the hour. If I can’t work, am I going to miss getting credit?
A: Please contact your employer to ask about paying hourly employees while schools are closed. If your employer continues to pay you for at least 50% of the full-time hours for your job, your employer should withhold TRS contributions and report them, along with service credit.
Q: What impact will the Coronavirus crisis have on June 1 retirees if they are forced to work in the month of June to make up for days in their contract? Will my health insurance be affected?
A: TRS will allow members (10-month employees) to work during the month of June if necessary and still retire effective June 1. TRS does not administer health insurance but will work closely with the State Health Benefit Plan to minimize any affect it may have.
Q: Can I be assured that I will receive my refund check if the TRS office is mandated to close on a temporary basis?
A: Yes, we have no reason to believe that we cannot send you your refund check in a timely manner. While there may be slight delays if a physical check has to be printed, we believe refund checks should be able to be distributed in a timely manner.
Q: Where can I obtain guided instructions on completing the retirement application and downloading forms?
A: This information may be obtained from our website. If you have questions, feel free to contact our helpful customer service representatives at TRS.
Q: Will the TRS Medical Board Doctors continue to review my medical documentation in a timely manner?
A: We know of no reason why medical documentation will be delayed in the medical review process. That process is now completely online, and it should flow seamlessly between our staff and the medical review board.
Retiree & Beneficiary FAQ’s
Q: Are retirees going to get a COLA in July?
A: Yes, in accordance to the Post-Retirement Benefit Policy, our beneficiaries eligible for a COLA will receive the scheduled 1.5% increase. While some have questioned whether the COLA should be paid given the challenging economic conditions, that policy would be required to be changed prior to omitting or deferring that COLA.
Q: Can a retiree who has been working after retirement apply for unemployment?
A: Unemployment benefits do not affect the TRS benefit. Specific questions about unemployment should be directed to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Q: Can I make my overpayment payment by phone instead of mailing it in or delivering it in person?
A: Yes, you may make payment by phone.
Q: Will the retirement checks/benefit payments be delayed?
A: No, we do not believe this will be the case, and after two benefit payrolls, payments have been processed successfully without delays in the payment of these funds to beneficiaries. You should expect no delays if you receive your benefit check via direct deposit. We do not have control over checks after they are mailed in the US postal service. The best way to ensure that a benefit payment is received timely is through direct deposit.
Q: Will employers still need to send contributions to TRS even though schools are closed?
A: Yes, employers should continue to send data and payments by the normal due date of the 10th. TRS contribution payments are part of employer payroll processing, in the same way that health insurance premiums are.
Q: If the employers cannot provide the requested information to TRS in a timely manner how will this affect retirement processing? (New Retirement and Disability)
A: At present, we are not experiencing any delays from employers. It is possible that a retirement could be temporarily delayed or require post-retirement adjustments if information is not received from employers, but this has not been and we are sure this will not be a large nor a permanent issue.
Q: Are we (employers) required to continue to pay our 49% retirees?
A: That is a question that you may wish to talk with your organization’s attorney about. Their compensation may be a contractual matter between the employer and the retiree.
Q: Will the TRS Employer Contribution Rate previously advertised for Fiscal Year 2021 change as a result of COVID-19 on the markets?
A: No, the rate adopted and as included in the State’s budget recommendation will not change for FY 2021. Any impact that may be felt from the COVID-19 crisis will not be noticed until FY 2023.
Q: Should retirement incentives be included in salary and contributions reported to TRS?
A: No, retirement incentives are not considered earnable compensation, and should not be included in monthly salary and contribution reporting.
Q: How should employers report salary and contributions for furloughed TRS members?
A: At this time, guidance TRS received from the Attorney General’s office in 2009 still applies, which is that contributions for furloughed staff should be reported on the full regular, non-furloughed salary. We will notify employers if there’s a change.