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Secure Your Future

Marking the birth of a pension system

New York Teacher
The UFT has been holding meetings for years to help members understand all they
The UFT has been holding meetings for years to help members understand all they need to know about their retirement benefits. Here, Mel Aaronson — now the UFT treasurer — speaks at a pension meeting in the early 1970s.

The Teachers’ Retirement System is approaching a historic milestone: It will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. When TRS was founded on Aug. 1, 1917, it had a membership of under 25,000 teachers and fewer than 1,400 retirees.

Now, in year 100, there are more than 200,000 in-service members, retirees and beneficiaries, and TRS manages two retirement plans — the Qualified Pension Plan and the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) plan.

TRS offers many benefits to our in-service members, such as death benefits, ordinary and accident disability retirement, and the right to take out loans. It provides members with Annual Benefit Statements and Quarterly Account Statements. TRS offers educational programs, newsletters and publications. The Walk-In Center at 55 Water St. and the telephone Call-In Center are features our members enjoy.

The cornerstone of TRS is the Qualified Pension Plan, the employer-sponsored defined-benefit plan that will provide your monthly allowance when you retire. A defined-benefit plan, or pension, is funded by the employer and promises you a set payout each month when you retire, while a defined-contribution plan, such as a 401(k), allows employees and employers to contribute and invest funds over time to save for retirement, but the employee bears the investment risks. As the years have passed, defined-benefit plans have become increasingly rare, making them even more valuable.

The Tax-Deferred Annuity program, which will turn 47 in February, provides members with an opportunity to build additional retirement income during their working years. More than 70 percent of UFT members invest in the TDA and most maintain their TDA accounts into retirement.

The benefits that TRS provides to members and their families are probably the most substantial assets they have. TRS recognizes its obligations to our members — now and in the future — and is always striving to meet members’ expectations.

TRS has begun a complex, multi-year transformation of its computer systems and business process. For you, the most visible part of the effort is the member website. A new and redesigned mobile-friendly site was introduced in 2016 and, going forward, TRS is making more and more services available online. Visit the website at — and read In-Service News to learn more. Our members can expect more self-service enhancements in the months and years ahead.

Generations before us have had secure retirements, and we are confident that TRS will continue to provide a dignified retirement and a financially secure future for all our members. And you can rest assured, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of TRS throughout 2017, that TRS will always put our members’ best interests first.

Happy birthday, TRS! As we approach your centennial, we thank you. We are confident you will focus on the present while keeping an eye on the future.

The UFT’s pension clinics are aimed at those members thinking about retirement within five years but all members are welcome to attend. These clinics are only one way the UFT educates its members about how to prepare for a financially secure retirement.

Related Topics: Secure Your Future