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The most common form of service credit is service earned in a position covered by TRF or the Public Employees’ Retirement Fund (PERF). Still, there are other methods used to obtain service credit, both for free and for purchase.
Creditable service is the amount of time that can be counted in the calculation of the pension portion of the TRF retirement benefit. TRF members earn one year of service credit for working 120 or more days in a fiscal year. One-half year of credit is earned for working between 60 and 119 days in a fiscal year. Service is creditable only if the member works in a position covered by either PERF or TRF. Service credit is measured by a fiscal year that runs from July 1 through June 30. Any time worked during a work day entitles members to a full day of service credit. Service arising out of jury duty, sick leave, or workers’ compensation may be included.
A member may not earn more than one year of service credit during a fiscal year.
Only certain types of service credit can be used to count toward a member’s 10-year vesting requirement under Indiana law. The following categories of service credit may be recognized and counted toward vesting:
One year of regular Indiana teaching service is earned when a member works 120 days or more in the State’s fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). One-half year of creditable service is earned for 60 to 119 days of service worked in the fiscal year. An active member is entitled to one day of service credit if the member engages in covered service for a standard workday, part of the workday or any fraction thereof.
To claim any in-state service that has been removed due to a voluntary withdrawal, the member must call or write TRF with all pertinent information. The member may have his or her service reinstated after earning one-half year of service credit in a TRF- or PERF-covered position. INPRS will complete a service credit analysis and send the results to the member. Any applicable service credit will be added to the member’s account.
Eligible members may have taught part-time or substituted in previous years, but the employing unit did not enroll the member or withhold contributions. This is referred to as omitted contributions. Members must meet the eligibility requirements to have this service added to their accounts. Members may claim this service in two ways.
Certain leaves of absence may count toward your vesting requirement. TRF is generally able to recognize board-approved leaves of absence granted by a school corporation (employer) for the following reasons.
Service credit granted by PERF for service in a PERF-covered position counts as TRF creditable service. Any overlapping service covered by both TRF and PERF is only credited once.
For example: Tom serves as a school teacher during the day in a TRF-covered position. He drives a snow plow in the evenings in a PERF-covered position. Tom has accounts with both TRF and PERF. Even though he is a member of both funds, at retirement his service is reconciled so that he is only granted one day of service credit for the concurrent service in PERF and TRF.
Members may use the following five other sources of creditable service in the calculation of the State-provided portion of the retirement benefit.
Only substitute teaching, military service, and FMLA, under certain conditions, count toward vesting with TRF. The other three types of service above (out-of-state service credit, additional service credit and private school service credit) do not count for vesting purposes; they only count for pension calculation purposes once the member has the requisite 10 years of Indiana service.
Under the Uniformed Services Employment & Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), eligible military service earned after the implementation of this Act becomes immediately added and vested. However, prior to this Act, military service is not added or counted toward vesting until after 10 years of active TRF service is earned.
A member whose teacher training or teaching career is interrupted by service in the United States Armed Forces may be eligible for up to six years of service credit for time spent in the military. All service during periods of hostility or mobilization counts toward the six-year limit. Military service that occurred during other time periods is subject to the 1/7th rule, meaning no more than 1/7th of the total years of creditable service may be from military service credit. Contact TRF at (888) 286-3544 if you have questions.
According to Indiana law, TRF will grant military service credit to a member under the following conditions.
The TRF military service credit provision is administered in conjunction with the rights of veterans under the Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
The member is required to furnish military documents which show the following:
Note: Military form DD214 normally provides sufficient information.
If the member completed four years of college but did not teach before induction into active military service, member must provide:
If a member needs help locating DD214 or other military records, the member should assemble all possible information concerning his/her military service and contact:
National Personnel Records
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132
If a member qualifies for USERRA military service, the required information should be reported using the Leave of Absence Verification (LOA) form on TRF’s Web site. When completing the form, the entire compensation for the fiscal year should be entered in the Compensation section. If the USERRA military service covers more than one fiscal year, additional LOA forms must be completed for each fiscal year. The employer needs to code USERRA service as such before it is granted. Once the forms are received, TRF will calculate the contribution payment due and send a cost estimate to the employer for input into ERM for payment to the employer and/or the member.
According to the Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART), if a member dies while performing qualified military service, the member’s survivor may be entitled to a survivor benefit.
Creditable out-of-state service includes:
Service at a federal agency in a position comparable to teaching in Indiana may also qualify. Teachers who became members of TRF prior to July 1, 1981, and who have out-of-state service prior to July 1, 1981, have specific rights of transfer. Up to eight years of out-of-state service may be added to a member’s creditable service at no cost to the member, provided that the member has at least 10 years of creditable Indiana service (not including PERF or military service). The member may not use this service to receive any additional benefits from another state retirement system or the federal retirement system. If the member has not earned 10 years of creditable service, the out-of-state credit is held in pending status until the member attains the requisite 10 years. If the member does not qualify for free transfer of out-of-state credit, the cost to purchase this type of service is calculated actuarially.
To claim out-of-state service, the member must complete State Form 49530, Verification of Out of State Teaching Service. This form is available on the INPRS Web site. The member should complete the form and send it to the out-of-state school involved. The out-of-state school will complete its portion and send the form to the out-of-state pension fund involved.
Next, the member should send a copy of his or her latest teaching contract to TRF. After TRF has verified the service, TRF will send the member an assessment, along with an IRS Section 415 Limitation form. The member can use the assessment to decide whether or not to buy service. The IRS Section 415 Limitation form can be used to determine how much the IRS will allow the member to put into a tax-deferred fund in one calendar year.
If the member wishes to purchase out-of-state credit, it is necessary to notify TRF. The member must include the specific years to be purchased, a copy of the IRS Section 415 Limitation form, and a check for the amount of purchase. Out-of-state service that entitles a member to a benefit in another state system or any federal retirement system cannot be used in Indiana.
Members should allow a minimum of 60 days for TRF to receive the out-of-state verification form back from the out-of-state system.
Ordinarily, teaching out of the country does not qualify for service credit unless the teaching was in a military dependent school covered by the U.S. Department of Defense or teaching was during a qualified leave of absence granted for exchange teaching. However, out-of-country teaching that is comparable to Indiana teaching service may be purchased.
For military dependent teaching service, Form NA 13037-9-85 is required for proper verification. This form can be obtained at:
National Personnel Records
Civilian Personnel Records
111 Winnebago St.
St. Louis, MO 63118
Members with at least 10 years of combined PERF and TRF service may purchase additional service credit. Once the 10-year requirement has been met, the member may purchase one year for each five years of service credit earned. The cost to purchase this type of service is calculated actuarially.
A member may purchase private teaching service credit if the member has at least one year of credited service in TRF. This service only applies to Indiana schools. The cost to purchase this type of service is calculated actuarially. The private school where the service occurred must be accredited in order for this service to count. A list of all accredited private schools is available on the Indiana Department of Education’s Web site.
TRF members who are teachers may earn credit for eligible leaves of absence if the leave is approved by the school board of the corporation granting the leave. A leave of absence does not qualify as a bona fide separation from service. To receive service credit for a leave of absence, the member must submit the Leave of Absence Verification form through the school granting the leave. This form is available on the INPRS Web site. Sabbatical leave for advanced study, work experience, teacher exchange programs, or approved educational travel require the teacher to return to a covered position for the same length of time as the leave. Leave for disability, pregnancy, or adoption does not require a return to service. All leaves of absence, except USERRA military service, are subject to the one-seventh (1/7th) rule, meaning no more than 1/7th of the total years of creditable service may be from leave of absence service credit.
Substitute teachers who are members of the Fund earn one year of service credit if they work 120 days in a fiscal year or between 60 and 119 days per year over two fiscal years. Once the substitute teacher has taught the requisite number of days, he or she becomes a member of the Fund.
Once these teachers achieve membership status and earn one full year of service as a member, they may purchase prior substitute or part-time teaching service, which is calculated actuarially. To do this, the member must complete the Verification of Prior In-State Teaching (State Form 41625), Part 1, and forward it to the employing school district for completion of Part 2. This form is available on the INPRS Web site. The cost of the service purchase is calculated by TRF and an invoice is sent to the member. If the member chooses to purchase the service credit, payment must be sent to TRF for the invoiced amount.
The following rules are in place regarding the addition of service credit to a member’s account. It is important to note that each rule is applicable only to certain types of service credit.
TRF may accept funds for the purchase of service in the form of a rollover from another tax-deferred retirement plan as defined in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA). This trustee-to-trustee transfer should not be for more than the cost to purchase the service. Any excess amount is deposited in a Rollover Savings Account (RSA).
Note: The price paid to purchase service is the actuarially calculated amount required to fund the monthly pension benefit. Therefore, this amount is not added to the member’s ASA. In the event the member terminates service prior to retirement eligibility, the purchase price plus interest as described in IC 34-13-1-6 is included in the refund to the member if the member withdraws his or her ASA. If the member returns to work in a TRF-covered position and the money has been refunded, the purchased service credit cannot be reinstated without purchasing it again.
35 IAC 14-4-2 dictates that whenever an individual is employed by the same employer in a position which requires the performance of covered and non-covered service, contributions shall be paid from the portion of the annual compensation attributable to the covered service.
Any service credit granted to a member must comply with the laws in effect at the time of retirement. TRF encourages members to request a service credit analysis approximately two years prior to retirement to allow for additional verification and correction, if needed.
If, after retirement, you believe an error was made in calculating your creditable service, you may request a re-examination of your benefit at any time. You may only appeal the re-examination decision under the Indiana Administrative Orders and Procedures Act if the re-examination is requested within six years after the payment commencement date.
If the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) staff has answered your questions regarding your account but you disagree with the action or determination, and no alternative resolution is available, you may request administrative review under the Administrative Orders and Procedures Act (IC 4-21.5). You must have standing as a party or a right to intervention to request administrative review. The steps of administrative review are here.