New law addresses RetirementPlus system problem

New law addresses RetirementPlus system problem


Updated on August 19, 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, a new eligibility opportunity to participate in RetirementPlus is available for transferees into the MTRS with the following criteria: (1) enrolled into MTRS in the period of July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2023; (2) has service credits with another contributory retirement system that was transferred to MTRS between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2022; and (3) made no prior election into RetirementPlus. Transferees who established membership in MTRS prior to July 1, 2001, or who made a timely election, are generally NOT affected by this new bill.

The deadline to submit a new election is June 30, 2023, however, the MTRS still needs to develop a new process for enrollment of eligible participants. 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.

If you think you are among the MTA members eligible for this new opportunity, please fill out this form to provide us with additional information.