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Pensions-TRA and PERA

Take a look at the newest Pension information  showing amounts paid out by Legislative District.

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By Marti Zins TRA Representative on Retired Governing Board

Frequently people ask why it is important to maintain a pension plan for teachers and why worry if it is a defined benefit (DB) plan or a defined contribution (DC) plan. Let’s take the issue apart for understanding.

A defined benefit (DB) plan, also called a traditional pension plan, is a pooled retirement plan that offers a predictable monthly benefit in retirement. It provides retirees with an in-come for life, as you cannot outlive your assets. Typically both the employer and employee contribute, often in matching amounts. In


As of July 1, 2020, the PERA General Employees Retirement Plan (the “Plan”) had a funding ratio of 79.1%.  Collectively, the statewide funds in Minnesota including those administered by PERA, MSRS, and TRA have a funding ratio of 80.6%.  The national average for pension plans is about 73.8%.  Rankings of state pension funding ratios in 2018 showed Minnesota as the 15th best funded state.  Only about a half dozen states are currently above 90% funding.

The funding ratio is a measure of the market value of plan assets divided by the actuarial accrued liability.  Actuarial accrued liability is the


                        ED MN Retired TRA Column  December 25, 2020  Martha Lee (Marti) Zins, chair TRA


The word “pension” engenders in teachers retirement security after a lifetime commitment to educating students.  Unfortunately to many non-educators, it engenders rage that “teachers feed off the public trough” and why do they, teachers, have pensions while almost no one but public employees have these.  Pension envy is another way to describe this phenomenon. 


At our national conference on pensions, held virtually in October, this very issue was discussed.  There is a clear lack of