Frequently Asked Questions

Active Membership

May I withdraw funds due to financial hardship?

This is only possible if you first resign with the District and then choose to take a refund of your contributions.

What happens to my retirement account if I leave employment with St. Paul Public Schools?

Your employment as a licensed educator working for Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has allowed you to earn retirement service credit in the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund. When you leave SPPS employment you will no longer contribute to your SPTRFA Defined Benefit account. However, your years of retirement service credit and those contributions made as an active employee will remain with the fund until you choose to retire, or draw your monthly pension benefit, whichever comes first.  Please remember to keep your address current with us so we may continue to contact you about your retirement account.

If you have specific account questions please call our office at 651-642-2550.

Read more about your options below:

What kind of plan is SPTRFA?

The SPTRFA administers two types of plans: Basic and Coordinated. Both are defined benefit plans. This means that you are guaranteed a lifetime, monthly retirement benefit from the SPTRFA if you meet eligibility requirements. Your benefit is not determined solely by your employee contributions. Rather, it is based on a formula, in which allowable retirement service credit and salary are key factors.

Why is SPTRFA membership mandatory?

Membership is mandatory upon employment, in any position requiring a license issued by the Minnesota Department of Education, with:

– St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS)
– St. Paul College (SPC) – if first employed prior to July 1, 1995
– St. Paul charter schools –  from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 2002.

SPTRFA reserves assets,  both employee and employer contributions, for long-term investment to help fund future benefits. The Minnesota Legislature mandates the contribution percentage per Minnesota State Statutes 354.A12.

How do I change my name or address?

To change your name or address you must update your personal information in the Saint Paul Public Schools Employee Self Service Portal.
For all other address updates for those members not actively working please contact us at 651-642-2550. 

How do I change my beneficiary?

To change your beneficiary, you’ll need to complete and submit a Change of Beneficiary Form. Click to view and download the form, or you can request one from SPTRFA by email or phone.

I am going through the process of a Divorce/Domestic Relations Order, what information do I need to provide to SPTRFA?

The following link has sample language that is acceptable to the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund Association (SPTRFA) and may be incorporated as part of a Judgment and Decree of Marriage Dissolution, or within a subsequent Domestic Relations Order, if applicable. Other language may be used, but any division of pension benefit (refund or monthly benefit) is subject to review for consistency with the retirement plan documents by the Executive Director of the SPTRFA.

Coordinated Plan DRO Sample Language – last revised on 10-30-2014

Retirement Benefits

How do authorized leave of absences affect retirement benefits?

There are several types of absence that can affect your retirement benefits with SPTRFA. An authorized leave of absence must be granted by Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and be documented. If you are granted a leave of absence, it is your responsibility to make sure that the leave is properly classified and documented by SPPS, or your retirement benefits may be adversely impacted. The following leaves of absence will give you the option to receive retirement service credit for the period of the leave, click to read more: Medical, Family Medical, Parental, Mobility, Sabbatical, and Military.

If you retire or terminate your employment following a period of leave, you must make the required contribution payment prior to your resignation in order to receive retirement service credit.


Can I increase my Employee Contributions?

No. The Minnesota Legislature mandates the contribution percentage of your pre-tax salary.

Can I Rollover my SPTRFA Contributions into another Pension Fund?

The short answer is no. Public pension funds each calculate their member’s benefits with different benefit calculation factors.

May I borrow or take a loan against my retirement contributions?

No. Minnesota law does not allow you to borrow or take a loan from your retirement fund. You can withdraw your employee contributions only if you resign and terminate employment in a SPTRFA-covered position.

How do I take a Refund of Contributions?

As a Coordinated Plan Member, you can receive a refund of your contributions. Refunded contributions consist of those dollars that you as an individual made to SPTRFA, plus interest (where applicable).  The refund of contributions does not include any dollars that Saint Paul Public School made on your behalf.

Taking a refund of your employee contributions, means that you forfeit all rights to any future SPTRFA retirement benefits based on that service.

The process for obtaining a refund of contributions is as follows:

1. Resign from Saint Paul Public Schools
2. Complete the application for refund for “Direct Refund of Contributions or Trust to Trust Transfer form”
3. Have your signature notarized
4. Spouse must sign form (or if divorced, include a complete court signed copy of decree)

A waiting period of thirty days is required from your final payroll from SPPS.

Refunds are paid on the first business day of the month after all refund requirements are met.

How do I Repay a Refund of Contributions?

You may reinstate the previous St. Paul retirement service credit by repaying the amount refunded plus 8.5% interest compounded annually from the date the refund was paid.

1. You must be re-employed in SPPS, SPC or be contributing to another eligible Minnesota public  pension fund.
2. You must have accumulated at least two years of retirement service credit since the last refund was taken.
3. You may make partial repayment [minimum of one-third of the total service credit you lost by taking the refund/s], if over 1.5 years.
4. Retirement service credit, and costs, for any partial restoration will be distributed pro rata to all periods for which refunds were taken.
5. You may use previous tax sheltered dollars to make this payment [i.e., 403(b), (457) deferred compensation, 401(k)].
6. You have six months from your termination date to repay a refund of contributions.

Preparing for Retirement

How can I schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor?

If you would like to meet with a retirement counselor you can schedule an appointment through our website, by email, or by phone. If you want a retirement benefit estimate only, please submit a detailed request through our website.

Retiree FAQ's

I received two 1099-R forms because I turned 59-1/2 during the tax year. Why—and what does this mean?

In the tax year in which you turn 59-1/2, you will receive two 1099–R forms from us, as the IRS requires that we identify and distinguish between payments that are made to you when you are under age 59-1/2, and payments that are made to you when you are over age 59-1/2. Accordingly, please note:

  • Each form will be different: One will reflect the amount totals for the months that you were under age 59-1/2, and will have a distribution code of 2 in Box 7; the other will reflect the amount totals for the month in which you turn 59-1/2 as well as for the following month(s) that you were over age 59-1/2, and have a distribution code of 7 in Box 7.
  • You will need both forms to determine your tax reporting information for the year: To get your annual totals, simply add the different amounts on the two forms. For example, to determine the total amount that you received from the SPTRFA for the year, add the figure in “Box 1, Gross distribution,” on one form to the figure in “Box 1, Gross distribution,” on the other.

Does the SPTRFA give tax advice?

No.  Please seek advise from a professional tax adviser or the Internal Revenue Service.

I need help understanding the 1009-R Form?

Similar to a W-2 form from an employer, the 1099-R reports your annual benefit payments for the previous year. For a full 1099-R form explanation, click here.

How do I report a change of address after retirement?

If you are no longer working for St. Paul Public Schools, you may update your address by calling and speaking to an SPTRFA staff member at, 651-642-2550.

Will I receive verification of my monthly benefit deposit?

No. Please contact your financial institution to verify receipt. Your benefit is normally available on the first business day of the month. If your banking institution is a small organization, there may be a posting delay.

How do I change my state/federal tax withholding?

You can submit a Withholding Change Form. The form is available on our website, or you can request one from the SPTRFA by email, phone or fax.

How can I get a letter verifying my monthly retirement benefit?

You may submit your request to SPTRFA by phone, email, or fax.

How can I get a letter verifying my first eligibility date for Social Security purposes?

You may submit your request to SPTRFA by phone, email or fax.