Press Release: 2022-08-09

New law addresses RetirementPlus system problem

New law addresses RetirementPlus system problem

August 8, 2022

Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law a measure that will help 2,000 or more MTA members who — through no fault of their own — were prevented from benefiting from the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System’s RetirementPlus program.

“The law was enacted after extensive lobbying efforts by the MTA and is a victory for our members,” said MTA President Max Page. “We look forward to ensuring that it is successfully and fairly implemented for those members who are affected.”

The law, “An Act relative to the alternative superannuation retirement benefit program for teachers,” was signed on Aug. 3. It makes technical changes to current pension law to create a new one-time option to join RetirementPlus for teachers who joined the MTRS on or after July 1, 2001, and who have prior creditable service in another retirement system.

Prior to the passage of the law, teachers who joined the MTRS were automatically enrolled in the RetirementPlus program, which requires them to pay more into the system in order to retire earlier. The one exception was for teachers who transferred into the MTRS while already having previous creditable service in another retirement system.

“The law was enacted after extensive lobbying efforts by the MTA and is a victory for our members.”

MTA President Max Page

Those teachers were temporarily enrolled in RetirementPlus but were then required to confirm their enrollment by submitting paperwork electing to participate in the program. This process created confusion for many members, some of whom were told by their employer that they were enrolled in RetirementPlus — only to be informed later by the MTRS that they were not enrolled because they had not submitted the appropriate forms. This issue has impacted numerous teachers, with more being added each year. And it is possible that more will come forward.

Before the passage of the bill, the only way to try to address this situation has been through a lengthy and costly appeals process. With help and representation by MTA legal counsel, members would appeal their status on a case-by-case basis to the MTRS and the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, creating hundreds of claims that have been outstanding for years due to the ambiguities in the law.

Now that the bill has been enacted, the MTA will work with the MTRS to establish a process to provide resolution for members who have cases under appeal, educate impacted members who have not initiated appeals, and establish new rules for future teachers.

The deadline to submit a new election is June 30, 2023, but it will take some time for the MTRS to put a new process in place. The MTA website will be updated as additional information becomes available — but members who think they may be affected should contact their local union and submit a request for legal services to the MTA, which can provide advice and assistance.