According to the Texas Retirement System (TRS), retired educators will be receiving those long awaited 13th checks in January. Eligible TRS members are those who retired before Dec. 31, 2006. The amount is capped at $2,400.

State Representative Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) learned last week that the one-time increase in the annuity paid retired teachers had passed. This is the first benefit increase for retired teacher annuities since 2001.

Truitt carried SB 1846, which increased the state's fund contribution for active teachers from 6 percent to 6.58 percent and authorized the baker's dozen check.

“I'm so pleased for our retired teachers who have had to wait too long for financial relief, Truitt said. “The $650 million new dollars appropriated to the fund by the Texas Legislature to TRS last session was key in making this a reality.

Retired SISD counselor Carolyn Hampton said she and other retired teachers have questioned if this would ever really happen.

“It will help morale, the 2000 retiree said. “People who have contributed to our society are deserving of this boost.

The Texas Constitution prohibits TRS from providing a benefit increase to its annuitants unless the fund is actuarially sound. The TRS fund has over $100 billion in assets, but has been actuarially unsound since the drop in the stock market after the 9/11 attack in 2001.

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at sherry.boardman@empiretribune.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 229.