Membership is a benefit and a very important part of your financial future—the MTRS is your retirement plan.
What requirements must I meet in order to become a member of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System?
You are eligible to join the MTRS if you are employed as a teacher or administrator in a Massachusetts public school outside the City of Boston or in any educational collaborative in Massachusetts and:
- you are covered by a contractual agreement regarding your employment;
- you are employed on at least a half-time basis;
- you are certified by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and,
- your contractual agreement requires that you be certified by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a condition of your employment.
Directors of educational collaboratives and charter schools are also eligible for membership.
Do I have to become a member of the MTRS?
If you meet the eligibility requirements stated above, yes, it is mandatory.
How much am I required to contribute?
You are required to contribute a set percentage of your salary through regular payroll deductions.
Your contribution rate is established by the Commonwealth’s retirement law (Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws) and is determined by the date on which you most recently became eligible for membership in a Massachusetts contributory retirement system and from which you continuously maintained your funds on account. Most of our members will establish membership in a contributory retirement system on the date they start working as a public employee in Massachusetts.
If membership in the MTRS is required, your employer will deduct the mandated percentage from your regular compensation and forward your contributions to the MTRS for deposit in your annuity savings account, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 32.
MTRS member contribution rates Date you established your current “effective membership date” Not participating in RetirementPlus* Participating in RetirementPlus* April 2, 2012 and after 9% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year; with 30 years of creditable service, contribution rate decreased to 6% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year 11%; with 30 years of creditable service, contribution rate decreased to flat 8%, and no additional 2% July 1, 2001 through April 1, 2012 9% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year 11% July 1, 1996 through June 30, 2001 9% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year January 1, 1984 through June 30, 1996 8% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year January 1, 1979 through December 31, 1983 7% plus 2% on earnings over $30,000/year January 1, 1975 through December 31, 1978 7% Before January 1, 1975 5% *The enhanced benefit plan known as RetirementPlus became effective on July 1, 2001. Depending on your membership history with the MTRS and other Massachusetts public retirement systems, you may have either had a one-time opportunity to elect whether or not you wanted to participate in RetirementPlus, or been required (“mandated”) to participate.
If you established your current “effective membership date” with your membership in…
- another Massachusetts contributory retirement system and transfer into the MTRS on or after July 1, 2001, you will be given a one-time RetirementPlus election period that is 180 days from the date of your transfer into the MTRS. If you make a timely affirmative election to participate in RetirementPlus, your contribution rate will be raised to the RetirementPlus rate of 11%; if you either opt not to participate in RetirementPlus, or do not return your form by the deadline, your contribution rate will remain at the amount corresponding to your date of membership, and you will not be enrolled in RetirementPlus.
- the MTRS…
- on or before June 30, 2001, your one-time RetirementPlus election period was March-June 2001, when we mailed an election form to you.
- on or after July 1, 2001, by law, you are required (“mandated”) to participate in RetirementPlus, and your contribution rate is 11%.
How can I check my contribution rate?
Look at your pay stub. Divide the amount of your retirement withholding by your gross income, and then refer to the contribution chart. For example, if your enrollment date is January 2, 1979 and your salary is $35,000, your total contribution would be 7% of $35,000 plus 2% of $5,000. The 2% contribution does not apply to RetirementPlus participants.
If your contribution rate is not correct, confirm your calculation with your payroll office and then contact the MTRS. Note: If the 2% contribution also applies, be sure it appears on your pay stub.
What is “Membership Tier” and how do I know which Tier I am in?
Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2011—commonly referred to as Pension Reform III—created a new benefit structure for individuals who became members of Massachusetts public retirement systems on or after April 2, 2012. Because the benefits members are entitled to are now based, in part, on when they established their effective membership date, the MTRS now distinguishes between two “Membership Tiers”:
- Membership Tier 1: members whose effective membership dates were established before April 2, 2012; and
- Membership Tier 2: members whose effective membership dates were—and are—established on or after April 2, 2012.
If I was formerly a member of a Massachusetts contributory retirement system and I withdrew my funds, can I now “buy back” that service and enter the MTRS at my earlier—and lower—contribution rate?
No. While you may “buy back” that time in order to increase the total amount of your creditable service, your buy-back does not entitle you to your earlier contribution rate. You may purchase service time only, not the benefit of the lower rate.
Why do I have to pay a 1.45% Medicare tax?
If you were hired on or after April 1, 1986, you are required to pay a 1.45% Medicare tax. While this does not earn you any Social Security “credits,” it does entitle you to Medicare coverage at age 65 if you have paid this tax for at least 10 years.