TFFR Member Frequently Asked Questions

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What type of retirement plan do I have?

TFFR is a qualified defined benefit public pension plan covered under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. North Dakota Century Code Chapter 15-39.1 and Title 82 of the North Dakota Administrative Code govern your retirement plan.

How do I change my address?

Requests for address changes must be made by the member in writing and can be mailed or faxed to the administrative office. A TFFR Address/Name change form can be used OR a signed note or letter from the member is also acceptable.

How do I change my beneficiary designation?

Non-retired members may change their beneficiary by completing a Designation of Beneficiary form. Keep in mind if you are married, you must name your spouse as primary beneficiary unless you have written spousal consent to name another beneficiary. If you are not married or have spousal consent, you may name any person or persons, organization or your estate as your beneficiary.

Retired members drawing benefits under the single life, 10 year or 20 year term certain and life annuity plans may change their beneficiary at any time. Members who retire under the 100% or 50% joint and survivor annuity plans may not change their beneficiary. (There are exceptions such as divorce and remarriage that may allow a beneficiary change.)

What interest rate is my account earning with TFFR?

Your TFFR account earns interest at an annual rate of 6% compounded monthly. This interest rate is set by law and has been in place since 1983. It is not related to the investment return rate earned by the TFFR pension trust fund. Once retired, your account stops earning interest.

How can I find out the value of my retirement account?

Your current account value and your last annual statement can be viewed by logging into TFFR Member Online Services. You may also request an updated account copy by contacting TFFR.

I am no longer teaching in North Dakota. What are my options with my retirement account?

If you are a vested member, you have three options: 1) Take a refund of your account value. A refund can either be paid to you or rolled over to an eligible retirement plan. 2) Leave your money in TFFR; 3) Defer drawing retirement benefits until you are eligible for retirement. Deferred benefit estimates may be included on your annual statement or can be obtained by contacting TFFR.

If you are not vested, you have two options: 1) Take a refund of your account value. A refund can either be paid to you or rolled over to an eligible retirement plan. 2) Leave your money in TFFR and take a refund at a later date. You must contact TFFR for a refund application. 

I am leaving North Dakota to teach in another state. Can my TFFR account be rolled over to the qualified retirement system in that state?

The taxable portion of your TFFR refund can be rolled over to another eligible retirement plan if they accept rollovers. Since not all qualified plans accept rollovers, you need to discuss this with your new retirement plan.

Can I purchase service credit with TFFR?

Yes. Current law allows an active member to purchase various types of service credit to use toward retirement eligibility and benefits once certain eligibility requirements have been satisfied. See the Purchasing of Service Credit brochure.

Should the salary I earn from coaching be included in the amount reported to TFFR?

Yes. Salary is defined as earnings in eligible employment for teaching, supervisory, administrative and extracurricular duties.

Next year I will not be taking the school's fringe benefits and will receive the cash instead. Will this increase my salary for TFFR purposes?

No. TFFR salary does not include fringe benefits or salary received by a member in lieu of a previously employer provided fringe benefit that are made on an individual selection basis.

How do I start the retirement process?

First you should review the TFFR Retirement Guide for a basic understanding of the steps you need to take to receive your pension benefits and to help you make informed decisions along the way. After you have reviewed the Retirement Guide you must complete and submit a Retirement Application and the applicable documents.

Will my retirement benefits be taxable?

If you have already paid taxes on the member contributions that were paid to TFFR, you will recover the total amount of previously taxed member contributions by way of a monthly exclusion to income. The recovery period is set by the IRS and can be as long as 35 years. The balance of your benefit is taxable income under both federal and state law. See the Taxation of Retirement Benefits fact sheet. A 1099R tax form will be sent in January.

Will a couple years of excellent investment performance close TFFR's funding gap?

No, a funding deficit will likely still exist. One or two good investment years will not undo the damage from the huge investment losses that occurred in 2008-2009. Because of legislative changes, TFFR funding levels are expected to improve. Investment returns above or below the plan's expected return will impact the timing and look of TFFR's long term funding picture.

My monthly benefit is directly deposited to my checking account and I am changing banks. How do I make this change?

Contact TFFR or access the form from this website for a new direct deposit form. Complete the top section and attach a voided check. TFFR must receive the completed direct deposit form by the 15th of the month preceding the date of the change.

I retired several months ago and plan to continue my health insurance coverage with my employer for eighteen months. When the COBRA continuation coverage expires may I join the state health plan through the Public Employees Retirement System?

If you are eligible for medicare you can join the state health plan. See NDPERS Dakota Retiree Plan - Medicare Eligible. If you are not eligible for medicare the following information may be helpful. See Health Insurance - Pre-Medicare. Both documents can be found under Other Resources.

I have been drawing TFFR benefits for several years and have recently been asked to return to teach part-time. Can I accept this teaching position?

Under the general rule, you may return to TFFR covered employment after 30 calendar days have elapsed from your TFFR retirement date. You then can be employed for a maximum annual hour limit and continue to receive your monthly benefit. The annual hour limit is based on length of employment.


 9 month contract =  700 hours
10 month contract =  800 hours
11 month contract =  900 hours
12 month contract = 1000 hours

Exceptions to the general rule allow retirees to return to TFFR covered employment and exceed the annual hour limitation. See the Return to Work brochure.

I have appointed my daughter as my Power of Attorney regarding financial matters. Should this information be provided to TFFR?

Yes. Due to strict confidentiality laws, TFFR can not make any change to a member's account unless the request is signed by the member or the member's Power of Attorney. The power of attorney document must be on file with TFFR.

Why doesn't TFFR have an automatic cost-of-living adjustment?

Because of concerns about the ongoing long-term liability to the fund, the Legislature has not approved such a provision for TFFR. In the past, ad hoc benefit increases were granted by the Legislature when it was determined that funding levels could support such improvements.