Georgia Teachers Retirement Death Benefits


Monthly Benefit Without An Option

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If you elected the Member-Only Benefit for your Defined Benefit pension, you will receive it for your lifetimeno continuing monthly benefit will be payable to another person or beneficiary after your death.

However, your one-time death benefit recipient will receive the monthly retirement benefit that accrued but was not paid during the month of your death, plus any remaining contributions and interest in your Defined Benefit account, less benefit payments already made to you.

Chapter Fourteen: Death Benefits

You can take comfort in knowing that your benefits will help take care of your family after your death.

We provide two types of death benefits: a beneficiary refund, which consists of any remaining accumulated contributions, and survivor benefits.

Each benefit may be paid to separate beneficiaries or both benefits may be paid to the same beneficiaries.

The type of benefit for which beneficiaries are eligible is determined by their status at the time of your death. Effective June 1, 2011, Illinois law entitles a party to a civil union to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses. A dependent beneficiary may choose between a lump-sum payment or monthly benefits. A nondependent beneficiary receives a lump-sum payment. If we do not have a Beneficiary Designation form on file for you, death benefits are distributed as follows:

  • a beneficiary refund is paid to your surviving spouse or civil union partner, or if there is not one, to your estate and
  • survivor benefits are paid to an eligible dependent beneficiary, or if there is not one, to your estate.

Pensions In The Southeast

Public pensions across the United States experienced similar losses during the last economic recession. The chart below displays a survey of the percent of teacher pension system that is funded and the average annual benefit for nine southeastern states. The average annual benefit is the average amount that each retiree receives in benefits from that states teacher pension system.

Georgias teacher pension system, like many government pensions in the United States, sits at the heart of discussions about the states responsibility for its public servants. With assets that nearly triple the states yearly budget and the financial health of hundreds of thousands of retirees in the balance, TRS leadership and state lawmakers carry a considerable duty to the state. For these reasons, any deliberation of changes to the program must be undertaken with the utmost care.

Meaning that Georgia teachers that participate in TRS contribute 6 percent of their pretax salary annually.

For the purposes of this fact sheet, the state is considered the single employer for TRS-participating employees even though local school districts contribute to the employer share of annual contributions.

National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Investment. Retrieved from:

O.C.G.A § 47-3-23

Teachers Retirement System of Georgia. . Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Retrieved from:

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What Is The Teachers Retirement System

TRS administers retirement benefits to employees of local school systems, charter schools, technical colleges, county and regional libraries, Regional Education Service Agencies , the University System of Georgia and certain state agencies. Established in 1943, TRS administers a single, defined retirement benefit that is determined by a calculation using the number of creditable years of service and final average salary multiplied by 2 percent. To receive any benefits, a member of TRS must have 10 years of service.

A complex combination of state laws, board rules and federal laws govern the management of TRS. Below is a short summary of the funding for TRS, the systems projected liabilities and how the state of Georgia has planned to address any outstanding obligations.

Employees’ Retirement System Of Georgia

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Keeping your beneficiary information current ensures benefits from the retirement system are paid in accordance with your wishes in the event of your death.

If you are not sure who you elected as your beneficiary, you can view your selection online using the Log In button at the top of any page on our website, or by contacting us. It is important that we have your most current beneficiary information on file.


If you selected a monthly benefit when you retired that continues to your beneficiary after your death, there are only a few specific circumstances under which you may be able to change that beneficiary and have your new beneficiary receive a monthly pension upon your death.

The Retirement Options Information Charts for each plan are located under Publications > Other Publications . In these charts, you can find the circumstances under which you may change your primary beneficiary, and if you can change your form of pension. The notes at the bottom of the page provide detail about special situations that allow you to make such changes.

This information is also available on the second page of our Retiree Change of Beneficiary Form. If you are not sure, contact our office and one of our Customer Care Representatives will be happy to help you. Our contact information can be found under theAbout menu.


Peach State Reserves

You can review or update your PSR 401 or 457 account beneficiaries at

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Refund Of Contributions And Interest

A Member may decide to take a refund of their contributions and interest after terminating employment.

11.1 Refund of Contributions and Interest Overview

Members of PSERS are required to make Employee Contributions into the System. Members are always 100% vested in their Employee Contributions and any interest to which the Member is entitled in their Employee Contributions Account.

For more information about Employee Contributions, please see the Handbook section titled Contributions.

When terminating State employment, regardless of age or years of Creditable Service,a Member is immediately entitled to receive a refund of their Employee Contributions Account in a lump sum payment.

Taking a refund, however, has several consequences:

  • The Member waives all other benefit rights in the PSERS plan.
  • No other benefits will be payable to the Member or to any beneficiary.
  • If a Member has 10 or more years of Creditable Service and is vested and eligible for a monthly benefit, taking a refund cancels the right to receive a monthly benefit in the future.
  • Plan membership is terminated. If the Member is later rehired, they will become a member again under the terms of the plan in effect at the rehire date. This is true even if the Member later buys back their refunded Creditable Service.

Employer Contributions are not refundable to the Member.

11.2 Applying for a Refund

To access your account and apply for a refund, use the Log In button at the top of the page.

Need To File A Life Insurance Claim

Please call the OneUSG Connect – Benefits Call Center at 1-844-587-4236. Representatives are available MondayFriday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

You will need the deceased persons full name, Social Security number, date of birth and date of death. MetLife will send a death benefit application to the beneficiary on record in approximately 7-10 business days. After MetLife receives the completed application, the claim should be paid to the beneficiary through a tax-free death benefit in approximately five business days.

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Optional Forms Of Payment

When retiring, a Member has several ways in which to receive benefit payments. Every payment option provides a monthly benefit for the Members lifetime, and many of the options provide a benefit to one or more beneficiaries after a Members death.

12.1 Optional Forms of Payment Overview

The Maximum Plan Benefit provides the highest monthly benefit available, because it does not provide a monthly benefit to anyone after a Members death. Other benefit options pay a reduced monthly benefit to the Member, in order to provide for certain specified beneficiary payments. Detailed descriptions of the various options are shown in the table below and on the following pages.

Actuarial tables are used to determine the amount of the reduction of the retirement benefit, in the event that a Member chooses one of the optional benefits. Tables used to determine the benefit payable under Options A and B are provided in Appendix A to this Handbook. Please contact ERSGA for further information about the actuarial tables.

It is important that a Member thinks carefully about the decision before making a payment option selection. In most cases, the Member cannot change their payment option after receiving the first monthly benefit payment. Before making this decision, the Member should obtain an estimate calculation of the amounts payable under the various payment options.

12.2 Benefit Payment Options

Appendix A Optional Form Factors

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The percentages in the following tables show the proportion of the Maximum Plan Benefit payable to you when choosing a survivor benefit. To calculate Options A, A, and B, find the percentage relating to your age and your beneficiarys age as of your retirement date and multiply the Maximum Plan Benefit amount by that factor. For multiple beneficiaries or Member/beneficiary ages not listed in the table, please contact ERSGA.

Because of certain limitations under the federal Internal Revenue Code, you might not be eligible to elect the 100% Survivor Benefit under Option A if you elect a non-spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than you. If this is applicable, you will be notified of the maximum permissible amount which can be allocated to the non-spouse beneficiary.

16.1 Option A: 100% Survivor Benefit

The following table shows the percentage of the monthly Maximum Plan Benefit as a result of receiving a monthly benefit in the form of Option A, effective July 1, 2022.

Option A Factors

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The Uneven Nature Of Pension Benefit Accruals Along With Weak Retention Rates Should Signal To Policymakers That They Need To Better Tailor Plan Designs To The Needs Of Public Workers

New research shows that the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia may not be a good fit for all new expected teachers.

Retirement systems regularly publish estimates of how long new public employees will stay in the workforce. Bellwether Education Partners analyzed these results and at the end of 2018. They found that for the average entrant into Georgia TRS in this case, a 25-year old female starting her teaching career there is just a 30 percent chance they will still be teaching within 10 years.

Because Georgia TRS has a 10-year vesting requirement, this means that the retirement system is expecting that just a third of new public educators would stay long enough to qualify for any pension benefits. For those who expect to work a full career, this wont be much of a concern. But for younger, more mobile, teachers this means Georgia TRS is not a path towards retirement security.

Figure 1 below shows the expected turnover pattern for a new, 25-year-old entrant to Georgia TRS. As the blue dotted line shows, only 17 percent are expected to stay long enough to earn benefits in full. This is measured against the net present value of defined benefit accruals over the same time period. Because the benefits are backloaded as is typical of a final average salary defined benefit plan most of the benefits in Georgia TRS are accruing to the roughly 1/5 that stay in the system.

Figure 1. Georgia TRS: Member Retention vs. Benefit Accrual


Returning To Public School Employment

14.1 Re-employment after Commencement of Retirement Benefits

If a retiree returns to PSERS-covered employment after retirement, and is over age 65 upon rehire, the returning employee must choose whether to continue to receive their retirement benefit or to become an active PSERS Member again. If the employee chooses to become an active Member, their retirement benefit will be suspended, they will make Employee Contributions to the pension system, and they will accrue additional Creditable Service. Once the Member retires again, the sum of all of their Creditable Service will be used to determine their final retirement benefit.

If the employee is less than age 65 at rehire, they will automatically become an active Member upon rehire. The Members retirement benefit will be suspended, and they will make Employee Contributions to the System, and will accrue additional Creditable Service. Once the Member retires again, the sum of all of their Creditable Service will be used to determine their final retirement benefit.

If a Member attains age 65 during their period of rehire, they will have the opportunity to elect whether to continue as an active Member, or to resume receiving retirement benefits based on the Members new total Creditable Service accrued up to age 65. If the Member chooses to begin receiving a retirement benefit again, then they will no longer make Employee Contributions to PSERS or accrue additional Creditable Service while remaining actively employed.

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Monthly Benefit With An Option

Once you have retired, no monthly benefit is payable to your survivors unless you elected an option beneficiary for your retirement benefit.

If you elected an option, your option beneficiary will receive the monthly benefit payable under the particular option you elected. If you didnt elect an option, you would have been receiving a Member-Only monthly benefit.

Teachers Retirement System Of Georgia Explained

Glenda McCary Bridges

State lawmakers introduced several bills in the 2019 legislative session that could significantly alter the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia if passed in 2020. There are 390,000 current and former Georgia educators participating in the pension system as either active members or benefits recipients. Any changes to TRS have immense implications to the states education workforce as well as the financial health of the state of Georgia. This fact sheet explains the basic concepts of TRS, how it is funded and where it stands financially.

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Appendix A Court Of Appeals Judges And Supreme Court Justices

Special Provisions for Court of Appeals Judges and Supreme Court Justices

This Appendix summarizes the special provisions of the ERS as they relate to Appellate Court Judges and Supreme Court Justices. This Appendix must be read in conjunction with the ERS Handbook.

19.1 Introduction

In 1971, special benefits were offered for Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges under the Employees Retirement System . Since 1981, membership is available to those newly assuming office by written election within the first 60 days only.

Laws governing ACJ Members provide for retirement benefits, death and disability benefits, or refunds of contributions and interest to Members who leave State employment. Employee and Employer Contributions are paid into the retirement fund for the welfare of Members and their beneficiaries. All benefits are paid from this fund. Benefit provisions may have changed over time, and any benefit provisions which no longer apply to any active member or apply only to a small population may not be covered in detail in this Appendix.

19.2 Eligibility

The following individuals are eligible for the special ACJ provisions:

  • Court of Appeals Judges
  • Supreme Court Justices

If a Member did not elect ACJ benefits in writing within the first 60 days of assuming office, their ERS membership will be under the regular ERS plan provisions and all benefits will be determined under the provisions of that plan.

19.3 Contributions

Employee Contributions
Normal Retirement

Appendix B Law Enforcement Special Provisions

There are special retirement provisions for certain law enforcement personnel.

20.1 Retirement at Age 55

Law Enforcement Service Retirement Age 55:

Some enforcement personnel are eligible for retirement at age 55 with at least 10 years of Creditable Service. They can receive the regular service benefit with no age reduction.

Eligible Contribution Groups

  • Uniform Division of the Department of Public Safety: officer, noncommissioned officer, or trooper
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation: officer or agent
  • Department of Natural Resources: game warden
  • Department of Revenue: alcohol and tobacco officer or agent
  • Department of Revenue Special Investigations Unit: officer or agent

Members who are unsure of their eligibility for the Law Enforcement Service Retirement benefit, should contact their Human Resources department or ERSGA.

Retirement Benefit

Eligible Members may retire at age 55 with 10 years of Creditable Service. The Member will receive the Service Retirement allowance without reduction for Early Retirement.

20.2 Injury in the Line of Duty

Some enforcement personnel may become eligible for an Injury in the Line of Duty retirement. This is an alternative to the regular Disability Retirement benefit and may or may not result in a higher benefit.

Eligible Members

Injury in the Line of Duty provisions cover Members in the following positions:

Department of Revenue Special Investigators are not covered under Injury in the Line of Duty provisions.

Benefit Amount

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Service Retirement Benefit Formulas

This section details the formulas used to calculate Service Retirement benefits for Members of ERS Old Plan, New Plan, and GSEPS.

8.1 Service Retirement Benefit Formulas Overview

The benefit formula used to calculate Normal Retirement benefits under each of the three plans is:

Formula Maximum Plan Benefit

As shown above, the benefit formula calculates the amount payable at Normal Retirement Age under the Maximum Plan Benefit.

Maximum Plan Benefit is the highest monthly benefit available. It does not provide a monthly benefit to a beneficiary.

Formula Salary is the average of the highest 24 consecutive calendar months of Earnable Compensation while an ERS Member. For this purpose, Earnable Compensation will always be calculated as if you had worked full time for the entire month, There are differences in Formula Salary between the plans, which are highlighted below.

The Benefit Formula Factors used in the above benefit formula differ for each of the three plans.

is generally determined the same way for all three benefit plans. The exception is for Old Plan Members who retire under age 65 with 34 or more years of Creditable Service.

The following provides specific details about how benefits are calculated for each benefit plan.

Benefits may be reduced if applying for an Early Retirement Benefit or if selecting an Optional Form which provides for a survivor benefit to the beneficiary upon the Members death.

8.2 Old Plan

Benefit Formula Factors:

35 or more .0220

8.3 New Plan

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