School nurses accepted as members of the MTRS

Since September 1, 1997, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System has accepted for membership DESE-certified public school nurses who meet the Board’s standard criteria for eligibility. The four qualifying criteria that are used to determine the eligibility of school nurses for enrollment in the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System are as follows:

  1. That the employee is covered by a contractual agreement for employment with one or more school committees or boards of trustees or by any combination of such committees and boards;
  2. That the contract requires at least half-time service;
  3. That the employee holds a certificate granted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or has been granted a waiver pending certification by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
  4. That the employee has a contractual agreement, which requires that he/she be certified by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a condition of employment.

Any questions regarding the interpretation of these conditions or their application to specific situations regarding the enrollment of school nurses should be referred directly to the MTRS’s Employer Services staff.

School nurses and RetirementPlus: Be aware of the creditable service eligibility criteria before electing in

From Employer Bulletin, Number 8, April 2005

RetirementPlus is one of the most important benefits the Legislature has granted to the members of the Teachers’ Retirement System in recent years. The enhancement provided by the RetirementPlus program, however, is not available to all members, not even all the members who elected to participate. Only members who meet certain creditable service requirements can receive the enhanced benefit.

To receive the benefit, a member must have at least 30 years of creditable service, at least 20 of which must be service “as a teacher.” Naturally, the MTRS interprets “as a teacher” to include any position that is eligible for membership in the Teachers’ Retirement System, including principals, superintendents and other administrative positions.

These creditable service criteria, however, present a special problem for school nurses since nurses have only recently been eligible for membership in the Teachers’ Retirement System. The System’s eligibility criteria for most positions require certification from the Department of Education, and the certification for nurses was created only in 1993. Moreover, membership in the System for any individual nurse would not have begun until the System began to receive contributions for that nurse, or a transfer of the nurse’s account, which would have occurred no earlier than 1997. Thus, it is impossible right now for a school nurse to have accumulated 20 years of service “as a teacher,” even if he or she has over 30 years of total creditable service.

Employers can supplement the System’s own educational efforts and perform a valuable service to the members by making sure school nurses know of these important restrictions before making an election to participate in RetirementPlus.