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Yearly Plan Decisions FAQs
As a TCDRS employer, you review your plan each year to make sure your benefits are adequate and affordable for your county or district.
You can also choose to contribute more than your required rate or make an additional contribution to your plan to pay off liabilities faster, prefund a benefit increase or create a cushion against negative plan experience.
Here are the most common questions about plan decisions:
Q) When are rates available for the upcoming plan year?
A) Rate information and the Plan Customizer become available at the beginning of May when you sign into the Employer Portal.
Q) What resources are available to help my organization make plan decisions?
A) TCDRS provides a number of resources to help employers make annual plan decisions, including a dedicated Employer Services Representative, your Plan Assessment and Summary Valuation; the Plan Customizer tool, webinar and user guide; and TCDRS’ economic modeling service.
Plan Assessment — The assessment shows your current benefit selections and cost for the upcoming plan year. If you participate in our Group Term Life program, that rate is included, as well.
Summary Valuation — The valuation provides details about your workforce, as well as a summary of the actuarial methods and assumptions used to determine your rate. Examples of what you’ll see in the valuation include the number of depositing members and retirees, average monthly salary, average age of your workforce and average length of service.
Plan Customizer — The TCDRS Plan Customizer is an online tool that allows you to run different benefit and cost scenarios to see how changes impact your employees and your budget. You can compare plans and access helpful charts, such as rate comparison and projection, benefit comparison and asset and liability projections.
Plan Customizer webinar and user guide — For assistance using the Plan Customizer tool, please watch our webinar or read through the user guide.
Economic Modeling — TCDRS can also provide economic modeling, which shows how your required rate changes under different economic conditions, such as a down investment market. We can create projections for up to five years in the future. To request economic modeling, please contact your Employer Services Representative.
Employer Services Representatives — You can always call your dedicated Employer Services Representative if you have any questions or need assistance with the plan decision process. Learn more about our representatives and find out who your representative is.
Q) What factors determine rate change from year to year?
A) There are many factors that can influence your employer contribution rate. The major factors are:
Benefit levels: Changes in eligibility or increases/decreases to your plan’s benefit levels
Investment earnings: The amount of earnings added to your employer funds based on how much TCDRS earned that year in investments
Payroll growth: How your payroll changes from year to year
Employee withdrawals: How many employees took their money out of your plan when they left employment
Employee retirements: How many employees chose to get a monthly benefit when they retired
Mortality: How many plan participants (employees, retirees and beneficiaries) passed away before and after they retired, and what survivor benefits you are paying
Q) What are my plan options?
A) There are four basic plan provisions:
Employee deposit rate: How much your employees are saving toward retirement
Employer matching: How much your organization matches at retirement
Prior service: Monetary credit for the time your employees worked for your organization before it joined TCDRS
Retirement eligibility: Number of years your employees must work to earn a benefit
You also have optional benefits to consider, such as adopting Group Term Life coverage, passing a cost-of-living adjustment, allowing partial lump-sum payments at retirement and authorizing buybacks.
You can use the Plan Customizer to see how adjusting or adding these benefits impacts your cost.
Q) What are my options if I need to lower costs?
A) You can lower your employee deposit rate and/or employer matching, which will have an immediate effect on your retirement plan rate going forward. (You cannot reduce benefits your employees have already earned.)
Q) How can I see the impact of different plan decisions on my costs?
A) With the Plan Customizer, you can run different benefit and cost scenarios to see how changes impact your employees and your budget. You can compare plans and access helpful charts, such as rate comparison and projection, benefit comparison and asset and liability projections.
TCDRS can also provide economic modeling, which shows how your required rate changes under different economic conditions, such as a down investment market. We can create projections for up to five years in the future. To request economic modeling, please discuss it with your Employer Services Representative.
Q) How do I submit plan changes?
A) You should submit plan changes using the Plan Customizer, which is available from May until the plan changes deadline in mid-December. If you submit multiple changes for consideration or review with your governing board, please let your Employer Services Representative know. Once you have a final decision, your representative will provide you with a customized plan agreement to sign.
Q) Is making an additional contribution or adopting an elected rate considered a plan change?
A) Yes. Any funding changes, including additional contributions and elected rates, should be submitted through the Plan Customizer.
Q) When are plan changes due?
A) Each year, plan changes are due by Dec. 15, unless that day falls on a weekend or holiday. In that case, the plan decision deadline is the next business day.
Q) What should I do if I don’t want to make plan changes?
A) If you don’t want to make any plan changes, you do not need to send anything to TCDRS. We’ll send a confirmation that your plan will not change.
Get more information on why TCDRS is a model plan when it comes to retirement.