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Retired teachers push for cost of living adjustments to retirement checks

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Retired teachers and school workers could soon receive bumped up monthly checks from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, filed House Bill 3214, which would provide a monthly cost of living boost to retirees’ checks of 6%, capped at $100.

An amended version of the bill would apply to those who retired on or before Aug. 31, 2019, according to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA).

“It’s been a long, dry spell,” retired teacher Karen Kay told KWTX.

“Anybody who’s been retired for 17 years or less never has seen a cost of living increase,” she said.

That is because the retirement system has remained largely under-funded for much of the last decade.

State lawmakers previously increased teacher retirement checks by 3% in 2013, but that applied only to those who retired in 2004 or before.

Kay told KWTX that the proposed cost of living increase this year could provide much-needed relief, especially to some of the state’s lowest earners.

“In Texas, 96% of the districts do not contribute to Social Security, so this TRS annuity is all that retired teachers have coming in from the state,” she said.

The average monthly Teacher Retirement System check is $2,096, and half of recipients receive less than $1,800 per month, according to the TRTA.

“We would have more income to be able to do some of the things we aren’t doing right now,” Kay said.

She said the bill is a good start, but she would like to see a cost of living adjustment in the future that rises automatically with inflation.

“We just feel like we have to go back every legislative session and beg,” she said.

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