On June 29, 2016, the Teacher Retirement Board (“TRB”) issued new guidance concerning the reemployment of retired teachers. One of the new and significant guidelines for post-retirement employment concerned the application of federal rules to qualified pension plans. Specifically, TRB issued guidelines to define and avoid “sham” retirements. Beginning in July 2016, TRB required teachers who began receiving their TRB pension payments before normal TRB retirement (20 years of service and age 60 or 35 years of service) or before turning the age of 62 to have at least a six month break in service before going back to work as a teacher. Failure to do so will mean that the teacher will have his/her pension suspended and any duplicate compensation will be reimbursed to TRB.
The guidelines issued in June specifically noted that the above-referenced six month waiting period was applicable when a teacher was seeking to return to work for the same school district from which he/she had been working for at the time of his/her retirement. With the reissuance of these guidelines from TRB last week, TRB’s guidance concerning the reemployment of retired teachers has changed. The revised TRB guidance now requires a six month break in service before a retired teacher, who has retired before age 62 or normal retirement, can be reemployed by any Connecticut school district.
Before a retired teacher who is under the age of 62 and did not achieve a normal retirement can be reemployed, the retired teacher must meet all of the following three conditions: (1) a six month break in service; (2) there must not be a prearranged understanding or agreement to return to work for the employer-school district; and (3) the superintendent of the employing school district must attest to the absence of any prearranged understanding or agreement between the school district and the retired teacher.
For the reemployment of a retired superintendent the third requirement is modified so that an officer of the board of education must provide TRB with a certification of the absence of a prearranged understanding or agreement to return to work between the employing board and the retired superintendent.
Finally, TRB has decided that this guidance is to be applied retroactively. In other words, if a teacher retired before normal retirement and was reemployed by a school district without a six month break in service, then there must be six month break in service beginning now, without a prior arrangement to reemploy the retired teacher in six months. Given that many school districts utilize retired teachers, either in a shortage area or under the 45% rule, these school districts must determine if any of these reemployed retired teachers are now subject to the TRB requirement of a six month break in service, regardless of when and where the retired teacher was previously employed.