Summer 2019

Message from the Chair

We proudly celebrate 105 years of service to Massachusetts educators


J Wulfson
On July 1, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System will celebrate its 105th anniversary. Not surprisingly, our membership demographics have changed significantly in the past century:

  • Our total membership has grown from just over 7,500 to more than 159,000, and ours is now the largest of the Commonwealth’s 104 public retirement systems.
  • As the state’s population has multiplied and the average life expectancy has risen—for Massachusetts residents in 2016, it was 80 years and 8 months—the ratio of active members to benefit recipients has decreased. In 1914 there were 42 teachers for every one retiree; in 2004, there were five active members for every two retirees. Today, the ratio is just under three active members for every two benefit recipients.

This maturing of our plan has created funding challenges. As you know, the financial health of our system depends on three sources of income: employee contributions, employer contributions (which are paid by the Commonwealth on behalf of local school districts), and investment income. Our investment assets—now more than $29 billion—are managed by the state’s Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, which has been long recognized as one of the nation’s top public sector institutional investors. As noted in this newsletter, PRIM is in the running for “Public Plan of the Year” and we congratulate them on their nomination—the fourth in as many years.

Although many things have changed since 1914, one thing has remained constant: our commitment to providing you, the educators of Massachusetts, with quality service and retirement security. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.

My best wishes to you and your families for a healthy and happy summer,

Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chair of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board

Another spring seminar series comes to a close

This year’s Your MTRS Benefits seminars were attended by over 1,500 members in 9 locations throughout the Commonwealth. Thank you to all who attended—we appreciate your time and interest in learning about your benefits!

What did attendees say was most valuable?


I found this session to be very helpful even though I am a young teacher. I feel much more informed about the money that I am contributing to my retirement.

Most of it – I didn’t understand a lot of it going in. Now I feel like I am somewhat less confused and if I have questions I know what they are and where to go with them.

Everything, as I hadn’t paid attention to specific issues related to retirement until now! I thought the speakers were excellent and presented some very complicated and at times overwhelming information in an easy to understand manner.

Knowing I am close to retiring—that I can do this!

Didn’t make it? Watch our videos!

Watch the Your MTRS Benefits videos—choose from ten popular topics—and follow along using the presentation guide .

Now available: 17 videos for membersDo you need to complete your enrollment? Curious about your benefits? Leaving service or getting ready for retirement? Check out our member videos!

Planning to retire soon? Access these two new resources

Retirement planning timeline and checklist

Are you thinking about retiring soon, but can’t quite figure out what to do and when? Use this new, interactive checklist to keep you on track as your retirement date approaches! Just enter your projected date of retirement, and the form will populate the rest—you’ll have a personalized checklist!

Ready for Retirement videos

Based on our popular Ready for Retirement seminar, these three videos show you the nuts-and-bolts of what to do—and expect—before, during and after the retirement application process. We know that the lead up to retirement can be an emotional and confusing time: retirement is a major life change. Take some time to watch these videos, as the better prepared you are, the less stressful the process will be.

MTRS celebrates 105 years of serving MA educators!

This year, we proudly mark 105 years of service to Massachusetts educators

When the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Association opened its doors on July 1, 1914, it did so under the advisement of the Board of Education, who reported to the state legislature that “a system of pensions for teachers…will attract to the public service a higher type of individuals than would otherwise enter it, and will tend to preserve in such individuals those qualities of mind and heart on which lasting  success depends.”

Over a century later, those words still ring true. We may have had different names over the years, but our commitment to educators remains unchanged.

The Teachers’ Retirement Association was established as part of Chapter 832 of the Acts of 1913, signed on June 19, 1913. The legislation had a tumultuous history: in 1911, a bill asking for enactment of a teachers’ retirement system failed to pass. The Legislature instead passed a resolve asking the Board of Education to decide whether such a system would work. In response, the Board presented recommendations with Chapter 832, the bill that created the MTRS, effective July 1, 1914.


Over the past 105 years, the MTRS has served countless numbers of retirees, active members and their families. We look forward to continuing a tradition of excellence in helping our members achieve a rewarding and enjoyable retirement for many years to come!

For more MTRS history, see our milestones over the years.

The MTRS: Then and now



Retirees and survivors 176 66,078
Active members 7,336 93,119
Contribution rate 5% 11%
Average age of benefit recipient 67 72.6
Average annual benefit $380* $44,389

*For those of you wondering, this is equal to $9,606 today

Our system: Who we are, and where we stand

Unless otherwise noted, figures are as of January 1, 2018. Source: Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission’s 2018 Actuarial Valuation of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System. Our next valuation, effective 1/1/2019, is to be expected to be completed by the fall of 2019. 

A profile of our membership…

Active members

  • Population 93,119
  • Average salary $73,336
  • Average age 43.6
  • Average service 13.1 years
  • Annual member compensation $6.8 billion
  • Annual employee contributions $692 million

Retirees and survivors

  • Population 66,078
  • Average annual benefit $44,389
  • Average age 72.6
  • Total benefits paid $2.93 billion

…and our funding status

  • Percent funded 52.4%
  • Unfunded actuarial liability $24.6 billion
  • Year fully funded (target) 2036

The Teachers’ Retirement System’s assets are invested by the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board. As of April 30, 2019, the PRIT Fund’s assets were invested as follows:

  • Global equity 43.5%
  • Core fixed income 13.1%
  • Private equity 10.8%
  • Value-added fixed income 8.1%
  • Real estate 9.5%
  • Timberland 3.8%
  • Portfolio completion strategies 10.0% 
    Hedge funds, risk premia, real assets and equity hedge strategies
  • Cash overlay 0.9%

For more information about the PRIM Board and the PRIT Fund, visit PRIM’s website.

PRIM Board has been nominated for “Public Plan of the Year” for a fourth year running; previously awarded in 2016

PRIM has been nominated for a fourth year running for “Public Plan of the Year” at Institutional Investor’s 17th annual Hedge Fund Industry Awards, to be held in New York on June 27, 2019. PRIM previously won this award in 2016.

PRIM continues to receive recognition for its innovative hedge fund program that produces very high risk-adjusted returns while saving approximately $100 million annually on hedge funds fees. PRIM led the industry with the use of direct hedge fund investments replacing fund-of-funds, and also led in its pursuit of separately managed accounts (SMAs), which give PRIM complete transparency, more control and lower fees than commingled funds that are the norm for most investors. SMAs now comprise more than 75% of hedge fund assets. PRIM’s SMA program and—more recently—its Emerging Manager Program, are being emulated by peers across the globe.

Funding status

PRIT core fund performance

MTRS asset value

Legislative update

MTRS files legislation to prohibit payment of pensions to members convicted of child pornography charges

Pension Forfeiture

The Massachusetts retirement statute provides that any public employee convicted of a crime “involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position” forfeits his or her retirement allowance, and is entitled only to a return of his or her contributions without interest.

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board believes that in the very rare instance when an educator is convicted of the possession of child pornography or other sex crimes against children, even if “off duty,” that educator should forfeit his or her pension because such crimes are repugnant to the special trust and duty inherent in the position of an educator.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Judicial Court disagreed with the Board in Garney v. MTRS, 469 Mass. 384 (2014). Although the Court readily acknowledged that teachers are charged with a “special public trust,” and that crimes such as possession of child pornography may be sufficient to dismiss a teacher from employment, the Court held that a conviction for the private possession of child pornography did not sufficiently “involve” the position of teacher so as to forfeit a teacher’s retirement allowance.

As it did in 2014 and 2016, the Board has again filed legislation to make clear that certain offenses, namely possession of child pornography as well as others that require registration as a “sex offender,” when committed against children, are so contrary to the role of educating children that convictions of these crimes are indeed “fundamental” to the job of an educator.

Our current filing—H.17, AN ACT RELATIVE TO PENSION FORFEITURE—would make substantive and technical changes to the retirement statutes regarding the forfeiture of a Massachusetts public employee retirement benefit. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • redefine the phrase “criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position,” in the case of a member whose primary job responsibilities involve contact with children or any member of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System or a teacher who is a member of the Boston Retirement System, to include possession of child pornography under G.L. c. 272, § 29C, as well as other sex offenses involving children;
  • restrict forfeitures to felony convictions;
  • allow for an “innocent beneficiary” named as an Option C beneficiary to collect the Option C survivor benefit notwithstanding the member’s forfeited benefit; and,
  • continue to allow total forfeiture, but also allow retirement boards the option of a tiered reduction in pension benefits depending on the severity of the crime.

The Board is aware that the vast, vast majority of the educators in the Commonwealth uphold this special public trust and are no doubt appalled at the notion that a small number do not. Although this affects very few of our members, the Board feels that even one case is unacceptable and, for that reason, has filed this legislation.

News briefs

What is a power of attorney (POA) and why should I have one?
New scam targets senior citizens
Board election to be held this fall for elected-member seats currently held by Jacqueline Gorrie and Dennis Naughton
Two long-serving PERAC colleagues retire