How do I know how much creditable service I have?

Currently, our computer system is not programmed to track this information, and, as a result, we do not have or maintain a complete record of your creditable service. We are, however, working to implement a new system that will track your creditable service and allow us to add historical data.

Until we have installed our new computer system, you are the best source of this information. To estimate your creditable service, see the list of types of creditable service , then add up the number of years of each type of service you have rendered.

At any time during your career, you may request an estimate of your creditable service; please be advised that, due to the time required to research your service history and the volume of requests we receive, it may take up to ten months for us to process your estimate. However, if you are nearing retirement and need to know how much creditable service you have so that you may make a decision to determine when you are eligible to retire, please contact us. We will review your file and provide you with a statement of your creditable service.

Is all creditable service equal?

To the extent that you have, for example, two years of Massachusetts teaching service and two years of out-of-state service that you have purchased, yes—each counts as two years of creditable service. However, creditable service is also categorized as either membership or nonmembership service:

  • Membership service is that which required your membership in the MTRS and during which you contributed to the MTRS via payroll deduction
  • Nonmembership service is that which did not require your membership in the MTRS, but is eligible for purchase. Types of nonmembership service are: substitute teaching service in a Massachusetts public school; out-of-state public school teaching; nonpublic school teaching; vocational work experience; other Massachusetts public employment; military service; Peace Corps service; pre-1975 maternity leave; and, teaching service in an overseas school for dependents sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

How much does it cost to purchase past service?

Generally, the cost of purchasing past service is based on what you would have paid in contributions during that period (plus interest to date) or what you actually paid and withdrew (plus interest to date). Please refer to the information on each type of creditable service to learn how the cost is calculated for that specific type, and be aware of how the type of interest charged is determined, including, if applicable, the limited timeframe for qualifying for the lower, buyback interest rate.

Is it always a good idea to purchase past creditable service?

Often, but not always—depending on how much creditable service you already have, it may or may not make financial sense for you to purchase outstanding service. If, based on your established creditable service and age, you:

  • are not at or near the maximum retirement allowance—80 percent of the allowable salary average—then, depending on how much outstanding service you have, purchasing it may result in a meaningful increase in your retirement allowance. While the present cost of purchasing the service may seem substantial, the difference in your retirement allowance may allow you to recoup the expense in a short period of time and pay off in the long run.
  • are already eligible to receive the maximum retirement allowance (80 percent of the allowable salary average) by reason of your established creditable service and age, then purchasing outstanding service will be an expense that will not result in an increase in your retirement allowance.

When must I purchase creditable service?

You must pay in full for any creditable service purchases before the effective date of your retirement. If you wish to purchase out-of-state, overseas dependent school, vocational work experience, nonpublic school teaching service or military service credit, you must do so while you are a member in service of the MTRS (generally, you are a "member in service" if you are: actively teaching; receiving Workers' Compensation for total incapacity; on a sick leave; on a paid leave; or on an authorized unpaid leave of less than one year). If you wish to purchase past Massachusetts public school substitute, temporary or part-time teaching service or other Massachusetts public service, you must do so prior to your date of retirement. Because an interest charge is added to the amount due, the cost of purchasing creditable service increases monthly.

How do I purchase creditable service?

While the specifics differ depending on what type of service you wish to purchase, the basic steps are as follows:

Step 1: You obtain the service purchase application form, if applicable (please see types of purchasable service).

Step 2: You complete and submit the form, supplying us with specific information about the type of service, where and when you rendered it, and what you received as compensation.

Step 3: We review your form, determine how much service you are eligible to purchase as well as your cost, and send you an invoice.

Step 4: Depending on your particular situation, you may then pay the total in full, or, if eligible, in payments over time on our installment plan. Or—except if you are purchasing vocational work experience—you may decide to postpone purchasing the service until a later date, if at all. You are under no obligation to purchase service you have been billed for; however, if you choose to defer your purchase, the cost will increase because of interest charges. Be aware that, depending on the type of service you wish to purchase, deferring your purchase to a later date may result in a significant increase in the interest you must pay because of added interest changes over time, or an increase in the type of interest your purchase is subject to, or both (see Applicable interest in the chart for the different types of purchasable service). [Note: You may be able to pay for your service purchase with pre-tax dollars. Please see Purchasing creditable service with a direct transfer or rollover.]

I am participating in RetirementPlus. What types of creditable service count toward the enhanced benefit eligibility requirement of “at least 20 years of membership service with the MTRS (or Boston Retirement System) as a teacher?”

In addition to your regular service during which you contribute to the MTRS via regular payroll deductions, the following two types of purchased service count toward the 20-year “teaching service” requirement:

  • repayment of a refund from the MTRS or the Boston Retirement System, and
  • if you began service with an MTRS employer on a temporary or part-time basis, the purchase of your mandatory six-month waiting period.

All other types of service do not count toward the 20-year “teaching service” requirement. They do count, however, toward the 30-year creditable service requirement.

Is service rendered as a “consultant” in a school district, or as an “03” employee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, eligible for purchase?

No—this type of service is ineligible for purchase by MTRS members.