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Secure Your Future

Demystifying terminology

New York Teacher

If you are a member of the city’s Teachers’ Retirement System, you receive many TRS communications and have access to TRS publications. TRS uses terms and acronyms that may be unfamiliar to you. This column defines some of those. We suggest you keep this list with your files for easy reference.

Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) — This is the formal name of your defined-benefit plan administered under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Qualified Pension Plan enables retired TRS members to receive a monthly retirement allowance upon meeting certain eligibility requirements.

Annual Benefits Statement (ABS) — Every fall, TRS sends a statement to in-service members and members on a leave of absence for up to seven years. This information is reported as of the previous June 30. The statement summarizes total service credit, lists designated beneficiaries and provides benefit estimates to members who are eligible. (Benefit estimates are available only to TRS members who have qualified for a pension.) You can always see your annual benefit statement on the TRS website.

Member Contribution Accumulation Fund — Member contributions, interest and any dollar amount paid to purchase prior service credit.

Additional Member Contributions — Members who participate in the Age 55 Retirement Program contribute an additional 1.85% of gross compensation above the standard pension contribution.

Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund — This contains the monthly supplemental contributions the city Department of Education provides to certain members who reach the maximum of their salary schedule (8B). This amount is $400 per year for pedagogues.

Quarterly Account Statement (QAS) — TRS issues this report approximately two months after each quarter of the calendar year. This statement summarizes a member’s account balances, contributions, investment elections, status of loans and account activity for the reporting period. You may also view the Quarterly Account Statement online at the TRS website.

Defined-Benefit Plan — A defined-benefit plan, such as the Qualified Pension Plan, guarantees a monthly retirement allowance and typically is based on the participant’s length of service and final average salary.

Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) — This is a defined-contribution program, established under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. The TDA that TRS offers permits members to save additional funds for retirement on a tax-deferred basis. You do not pay tax on your contributions, or any interest earned, until you withdraw money.

Summary Plan Description — TRS provides summary plan descriptions about TRS membership and benefits to each member upon enrollment.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) — Participants must withdraw the Required Minimum Distribution from a TDA in a given year to meet the IRS’ distribution regulations. Required Minimum Distributions apply only to TDA participants who have left service, are at least age 72 and have TDA Deferral Status.

Unit Values — A monthly value attributed to each variable-return investment program based on each portfolio’s closing market value.

W-4P Form — An IRS form retirees may file with TRS to change the amount of their federal tax withholdings for their retirement payments.

Earnings After Retirement — This refers to the rules governing how much TRS retiree members may earn while receiving a retirement allowance. Restrictions on Earnings After Retirement affect retirees under 65 who are public employees in New York State.

Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) — TRS retirees can have their monthly benefit payments and other distributions automatically sent to their checking or savings accounts. Electronic Fund Transfer allows members’ accounts to be credited on the payment date and safeguards against delayed, lost or stolen checks.

1099 Forms — A 1099-R is a statement TRS sends in January to members who received a distribution from TRS during the previous year. Interest associated with retroactive retirement allowance payments is reported on a separate 1099-INT form, which is also sent in January.

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This column is compiled by Tom Brown, David Kazansky and Debra Penny, teacher-members of the NYC Teachers’ Retirement Board.

Pension clinics

The UFT’s pension clinic is designed for you members who are thinking of retiring in a year or two. It is a mini-course on your retirement benefits. This page lists the dates and locations for the clinics.

Related Topics: Secure Your Future, Pension