Coronavirus Response Update – January 2022
TRS has received a few questions recently about why TRS continues to have the lobby open for dropping off and picking up correspondence while continuing to provide all services through the same means that have been used since the onset of the pandemic. Here is that explanation.
TRS is open. Kentucky’s teachers, when they retire, rely on the retirement checks and health insurance benefits that TRS provides. This mission requires the uninterrupted, timely delivery of about $200 million each month to retirees. With staff working closely together and including in-person counseling sessions, the potential for spread of the virus must be considered in ensuring that the benefits mandated by law are delivered as the law directs, including the potential from new variants. As such, it’s important to note that TRS counselors don’t just meet with members. The counselors also accomplish the business functions that get retirees’ benefit payments delivered each month. The loss of staff involved in these processes at the wrong time of month because of an outbreak would prevent TRS from delivering that payroll.
Since the start of the pandemic, TRS has been open without missing a minute. Every service provided before the pandemic continues to be provided now with the aid of technology. Staff working remotely have full access to email and answer desk phones in real time. No third-party assistance is needed with document delivery because, in addition to the TRS lobby being open for pick-up and delivery of documents, members can submit documents securely through Pathway, TRS’s password-protected member account access website. These methods – most of which were in place before the pandemic – are working well and will continue to be available.
TRS has followed guidance from the state and federal levels throughout the pandemic while assuring statutory duties to provide benefits are met. TRS continues to monitor the situation and will adjust as circumstances change and based on future guidance. For example, the office accepted walk-in visitors during the lull in the pandemic from June into September. TRS again will accept in-person meetings when the continuity of TRS’s primary mission can be assured.
The information below for TRS members was issued at various points of the pandemic. Some of the information remains relevant, which is why it remains posted here for the time being.
TRS Continuing Video and Phone Counseling Under Change Effective Sept. 7
Recent months have shown how easily and efficiently members can conduct business with TRS – including having questions answered – using video or phone counseling. Effective Sept. 7, the office will remain open only for receiving or providing paperwork while TRS staff continue assisting members and retirees through video counseling and phone appointments.
Video counseling appointments for members and retirees can be scheduled using Pathway at https://mss.trs.ky.gov. A how-to video is available at https://youtu.be/1BDbkzHm2dM. If further assistance is needed, call 800-618-1687 during business hours.
TRS will issue further updates as necessary.
From the Executive Secretary (2020)
The operations of the Teachers’ Retirement System continue as they normally would during this time despite the Frankfort office remaining closed to visitors and most staff working remotely. So, yes, Kentucky teachers can retire during the coronavirus outbreak. If you’d always planned to retire in 2020, you still can.
TRS continues to issue retirees’ annuity and medical insurance payments as usual, and staff are available to address any concerns. Practically any business with TRS can be conducted – or any question can be answered – remotely using the guidelines outlined below. These guidelines have information based on questions being asked, as of August 2020.
For people covered through TRS retiree health insurance on either the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan (KEHP) or the Medicare Eligible Health Plan (MEHP), all member cost sharing – including copays, coinsurance and deductibles – for approved diagnostic testing for COVID-19 has been waived. For more information, click below on the links for the MEHP or KEHP.
Follow TRS’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, in addition to the website, for announcements of any further developments, including when in-person visits will resume. Also, any previously scheduled in-person seminar will be conducted as a webinar until further notice.
TRS-specific general information and frequently asked questions
MEHP: Medicare and Coronavirus
KEHP: Information from Anthem
Prior general information and FAQ (March 16, 2020)
Prior general information and FAQ (March 27, 2020)
Prior general information and FAQ (April 2020)