How to Buy Back Years for Teacher Retirement in Texas to Retire Early

Texas teacher service buy backs can lead to early retirement.

Texas Teacher Retirement System (TRS) participants may buy back years of refunded system service credit. According to the TRS Benefits Handbook, credit for buying back years of service is used to establish early retirement eligibility and to calculate retirement benefits.

Withdrawn Service

Past refunds to a participant of accumulated contributions to TRS represent withdrawn service. According to the TRS Benefits Handbook, to buy back withdrawn service, refunded contributions must be deposited along with a reinstatement fee equal to 6 percent of the amount refunded, compounded annually from the date of refund to the date of purchase. All refunded contributions must be purchased as no partial buy backs are allowed.

Buy Back Deadline

TRS requires that years of buy back service must be purchased not later than the effective date of retirement for participants buying back service for the purpose of establishing retirement eligibility.

Payment Methods

Years of service buy backs can be paid in a lump sum, with installment payments or by direct trustee-to-trustee rollovers from another eligible retirement plan. According to the TRS Service Credit brochure, transfers from other retirement plans require members to complete and submit a Form TRS 551.

Early Retirement

Generally, TRS members at least 60 years old qualify for early retirement when age and service credit equal 80. Participants under age 60 qualify for early retirement with 30 years of service credit.

Buy Backs

To buy back service credits, participants must contact TRS to obtain a statement for withdrawn service credit. The statement may be obtained at the TRS website or by written request.

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