COVID-19: TRSL Information and Resources
Last updated 06/05/2020

We know our members and retirees may have questions and concerns about the implications of the coronavirus outbreak, including how to access TRSL services during this difficult time, making long-term retirement plans, and understanding how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act may affect them. The information below addresses these topics.

TRSL office building and business hours:

Louisiana is now in Phase 2 of reopening the state. At this time, in-person counseling is not yet available at the TRSL building. However, we will let members know when this and other on-site services will resume.

We continue to provide service to our membership through phone, email, and online Member Access. Members can continue to submit documents through normal delivery methods, including mail, email, or fax.
 
CONTACT US
Mailing address: P.O. Box 94123, Baton Rouge LA 70804-9123
Local: 225-925-6446
Toll-free (outside Baton Rouge)1-877-ASK-TRSL (1-877-275-8775)
For deaf & hard of hearing members, please contact TRSL via the Louisiana Relay Service: Fax: 225-925-4779
Email: web.master@trsl.org
MEMBER ACCESS SELF-SERVICE FEATURES
Active members: Retired members:
  • View your service credit & member contributions
  • Change your name and/or address
  • View your beneficiaries on file with TRSL
  • Estimate your retirement benefit
  • Apply for retirement
  • View your retirement benefit history
  • Print your 1099-R forms
  • Change your federal tax withholding
If you need assistance registering for or logging on to Member Access, contact our Help Desk at 225-925-6460 or helpdesk@trsl.org.

Benefit payments:

Rest assured, benefit payments will not be impacted. You will continue to receive your monthly benefits and DROP withdrawal payments without interruption. Regular retirement benefits will be made available to your banking institution on the first of the month and DROP withdrawal payments will be made available on the 15th of the month. You can always check with your bank to find out when these funds will be accessible to you. Members receiving paper-only payments will continue to receive a check. However, we ask you to consider opting into direct deposit for your benefit. To start direct deposit or update your banking information, submit one of the following forms: If TRSL receives your direct deposit form by the 15th of the month, your next month’s benefit will be sent electronically to your financial institution. Retirees receiving estimated benefits will receive their first benefit check through the mail. Subsequent benefits will be made by direct deposit.

TRSL investments:

TRSL administers a defined-benefit retirement plan. Members  can rest assured that their defined benefits are secure, even as financial markets react to the uncertainties of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The spread of COVID-19 has impacted global markets over the short term. TRSL is a long-term investor, and we think in terms of decades—not days, weeks or months. The TRSL investment portfolio is broadly diversified in order to respond to periods of market volatility and uncertainty.

Our members’ retirement benefits continue to be secure. Additionally, retirement benefits for TRSL members who participate in the defined-benefit plan are guaranteed by the state constitution. These benefits are based on the member’s years of service, average salary, and a benefit accrual factor—usually 2.5%; they are not based on the value of the TRSL trust.  DROP accounts are safe, too. While the interest rate earned on these accounts varies with the market, the funds already on deposit are secure.  
 
School closures and service credit:

While a proclamation by the governor has closed physical public school buildings to students for the duration of the 2019-20 academic year and higher education institutions have taken similar steps, distance learning continues. Generally, TRSL service credit is calculated for full-time employees based your salary, specifically what you are to receive if you complete the full teaching year compared to the salary you actually received. For example, if you are in a teaching position whose pay is $45,000 for a full year and you work the full year and earn $45,000, you will receive a full year of service credit.  

Hardship Loans:

Under state law, loans or in-service distributions from your retirement account are not permitted. TRSL is a qualified governmental retirement plan that does not have provisions by which members can borrow/take a loan or any other distribution from their retirement accounts at any time prior to the member’s termination from employment.  

Refund of member contributions:

Members who have terminated employment in all positions eligible for TRSL membership can request a refund  of their member contributions by completing an Application for Refund (Form 7). Members who submit Form 7 should also know that there is a 90-day waiting period (from termination date)  for payment of the refund. Upon refunding your member contributions, membership in TRSL and all service credit is canceled. Once TRSL receives all refund paperwork, it is typically processed within two weeks. Refunds are issued twice a month on the 5th and the 20th. Additionally, there are certain tax implications associated with refunds. More information is available in our brochures, Taking a Refund of Your Contributions and Special Tax Notice Regarding TRSL Payments.  Also, please see CARES Act provisions (below) governing refund taxation for TRSL Regular Plan, Plan A, and Plan B (defined-benefit plan).

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 

Stimulus payment checks: Under the recently signed CARES Act, most U.S. residents are eligible for one-time recovery rebate payments. For most taxpayers, no action on their part will be required to receive these payments. The IRS will use 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility, and in most cases if no 2019 tax return is available, the IRS will use the 2018 tax return or information from other federal benefit programs. 

Individuals who do not typically file taxes due to their low income or who do not receive Social Security benefits (like many TRSL members) must take either of the following actions to receive their recovery rebate checks:  Many low-income taxpayers are eligible to file tax returns online for free through the IRS Free File program. Members should consult a tax professional if they are unsure about whether to file their taxes or any other information regarding the CARES Act. For more information, visit the IRS website.

Retirement-related changes within the CARES Act 

In general, the CARES Act provides additional flexibility to access and manage certain types of defined-contribution accounts. It also provides certain tax relief for distributions which are currently authorized by a defined-benefit or defined-contribution plan. Otherwise, the CARES Act does not include changes affecting TRSL's defined-benefit pension plans.

NOTE: Required minimum distributions (RMDs) for TRSL DROP accounts, as recently changed by the SECURE Act of 2019, are unaffected by the CARES Act. 

CARES Act provisions may impact TRSL members who have supplemental plans such as a 403(b) plan offered by their employer or a 457 plan, like the Louisiana Public Deferred Compensation Plan. We encourage members to contact their supplemental plan vendors for additional information regarding those accounts and options that may be available.

TRSL Regular Plan, Plan A, and Plan B (defined-benefit plan)

Refunds and certain DROP distributions: TRSL members who have terminated employment in all positions eligible for TRSL membership and who are requesting a refund of member contributions or TRSL DROP/ILSB retirees receiving certain distributions may have their distribution qualify as a special “coronavirus-related distribution” due to COVID-19, if applicable. In this case, the CARES Act waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty tax for distributions of up to $100,000 per year from retirement plans if the distribution meets one of the following conditions:
  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Your spouse or dependent has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You have experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid-off, reduced work hours, inability to work due to lack of child care because of COVID-19, the closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19, or other factors, as determined by the US Treasury Secretary.
This applies to eligible refunds or DROP withdrawals (single sum and partial-single sum only) made on or after January 1, 2020 and before December 31, 2020. This “coronavirus related distribution” is not subject to the 20% mandatory federal tax withholding; however, it is taxable. Tax on the income from this distribution can be paid ratably over a three-year period.

NOTE: A refund of member contributions can only be issued after a 90-day waiting period that begins on the date of termination from TRSL-covered employment.

pdf_icon Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 — Application for Refund (Form 7CA)
pdf_icon Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 — DROP or ILSB Withdrawal Method Selection (Form 11CA)

Optional Retirement Plan-ORP (defined-contribution plan)

2020 Required Minimum Distribution Waiver: Required minimum distributions (RMDs) are required by the IRS for retirees over age 70½ or 72. These members must withdraw a certain amount from their ORP account each year. The CARES Act waives this requirement for 2020 for defined-contribution plans like the ORP. For additional information, ORP participants should contact their provider. Distribution after Termination from Employment: ORP participants receiving certain distributions after termination from employment may have their distribution qualify as a special “coronavirus-related distribution” due to COVID-19, for early withdrawal penalty waiver and tax withholding purposes, as applicable. For additional information, ORP participants should contact their provider.

Tax-Favored Withdrawals from Retirement Plans: CARES Act provisions regarding early withdrawals and loans from retirement accounts do not authorize TRSL to allow early withdrawals or loans from ORP accounts. While the CARES Act provides additional flexibility to access and manage certain types of defined-contribution accounts, the applicability of these CARES Act options is dependent upon the provisions within the particular defined-contribution plan. State law governs distribution options available for ORP participants. In order for these CARES Act provisions to apply, the plan document (in this case, state law) must authorize/permit such a withdrawal. State law currently does not permit a hardship withdrawal or loan. TRSL and its ORP providers cannot authorize such a withdrawal or loan.  
 
Covid-19: TRSL updates 
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