Greetings from your SPTRFA Pension Team.
Given the volatility permeating all aspects of our lives, we want to err on the side of over-communicating and hope you’ll forgive us for filling your email inbox.
Like you, we do not yet know how long we’ll be working remotely. We’re using the Governor’s current May 4 school closing guidance for our planning purposes. Thanks again for your patience and grace as we navigate through this new environment.
On a personal note, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for teachers. As a proud graduate of the Peoria, IL public school system, I owe my teachers a debt of gratitude. Now, as a parent of three teenagers (who are occupying an enormous amount of real estate in my home due to distance learning), I realize that WE NEED YOU MORE THAN EVER! So, thank you.
We recently transitioned to our remote workspaces and are pleased to report that we successfully replicated all of our mission-critical systems and databases. We have, however, experienced some reduced capacity in terms of our available incoming telephone lines. As a result, there may be times when incoming calls are routed directly to voicemail instead of rolling over to the next available member services representative. If you leave a message, we will return your call promptly. We’re working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, if you send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, your inquiry will be routed immediately to one of our member service representatives for a timely call back (we have all of our outgoing call lines available).
Our contact information:
Educators Planning to Retire this School Year
Please know that you are the top priority for our Member Services team. If you are planning to retire this year, we are here for you and will get you across the finish line! The fastest way to get the time and attention you deserve: please send an email to email@example.com, and we will have a member service representative contact you to guide you through your SPTRFA retirement process.
Physical Documents and Faxes
In an attempt to protect our staff members, we have suspended our daily US Postal Service mail delivery and are processing physical mail only once a week. Although physical mail is still the best way to send us documents with sensitive personal information, we can also receive scanned documents via email. If you choose to email your documents, please take care to remove sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers and birth dates. We will complete those pieces of information at a later date.
Please note that, at this time, we are not able to receive any documents by fax.
Purchase of Service Credit Related to the Recent Teachers’ Strike
Ultimately, the amount you receive from your SPTRFA pension is largely dependent on two primary factors:
1) your final five years of salary and 2) your years of service. In situations where a strike lasts for an extended period, it could impact both of these factors and potentially affect a lifetime pension benefit, if a member is within five years of retiring. To address strike situations like this, Minnesota law provides members with the ability to restore lost service by paying both the applicable employee and employer pension contributions to SPTRFA.
We are grateful that the duration of the recent strike was brief. In the end, it is our understanding that our members were officially out for only three days. Given the short duration, it is highly unlikely that there was any meaningful impact on our member’s lifetime pension benefits. As a result, it is doubtful that the cost of purchasing service would provide any significant benefit.
We understand that you may have questions concerning this topic. Click here to review examples of purchasing service due to a strike.
Our member service representatives are also available to answer your questions.
The CARES Act Relief Bill (the Cares Act) – any impact on our SPTRFA pension plan?
Recently, the Cares Act was signed into law – it is intended to provide economic relief to businesses and individuals who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crises. Several provisions apply to certain retirement plans. You may be wondering if these have any applicability to your defined benefit plan with SPTRFA. The short answer is largely no. More details about one particular provision that you may have heard about:
401(k) and IRA withdrawals and loans. Under certain circumstances, the Cares Act waives existing penalties on early withdrawals and permits additional loans from 401(k) plans and IRAs. These provisions do not apply to any defined benefit pension plans, including SPTRFA’s. While we cannot give investment advice, we would note that these provisions are intended to help those in dire financial conditions. We would urge anyone considering an early withdrawal from a retirement account to exercise great care and consult your financial advisor.
Jill E. Schurtz
St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association