Friday, December 5, 2014

TRS - Permanent Handicap - TDA Transfer

Last year I wrote about a persistent negative cash flow at the NYC Teachers Retirement System (TRS).

Just recently someone pointed out to me the impact of something I vaguely knew about but not really. Every year TRS pulls money out of the pension fund and transfers it to the TDA plan that it runs separately from the pension plan. The TDA plan is a defined contribution plan, a 403(b) plan in IRS speak. Information about this transfer is buried in the TRS annual CAFR. The city, however, has never identified the transfer in its annual CAFR. That is until FY-2014.

This is why TRS has had a negative cash flow for the last 15 years. In the last eight years (2007-2014) TRS has paid $33.3B in benefits but $6.8B went to the TDA plan and not pension benefits. The employers' contributions for the 2007-2014 period were only $19.2B. This is a big problem. It is never discussed publicly. I have no idea how Bob North, the TRS actuary, values this liability for the TRS pension fund. This is a huge leak in the funding pipeline for the TRS pension plan.

If you look at the table below it appears that North is reporting a funding level for TRS based only on the liability based on the pension benefits paid and ignores the TDA transfer.

Funding Status for TRS and NYCERS for FY-2013

System Actuarial Assets Actuarial Liabilities Funding Level MembersPensionersPension Benefits Paid TDA Transfer
NYCERS $42.4B $65.3B 65.0%212,347137,987$3.9B $0.0B
TRS $33.6B $57.7B 58.2% 132,01776,539$3.6B $1.1B

TRS Benefit Payout Since 2007

Fiscal YearEmployer ContributiondsAll Benefits PaidPensions PaidTDA SkimOther Benefits PaidPension Paid % TDA Skim %Other Benefits %
2005$1.23B $3.13B ******
2006$1.32B $3.34B ******
2007$1.60B $3.58B$2.89B$0.55B$0.14B80.7%15.4%4.0%
2008$1.92B $3.78B$3.02B$0.65B$0.11B79.9%17.2%3.0%
2009$2.22B $3.78B$2.92B$0.77B$0.10B77.2%20.4%2.6%
2010$2.48B $4.12B$3.20B$0.82B$0.10B77.7%19.9%2.4%
2011$2.47B $4.33B$3.38B$0.85B$0.10B78.1%19.6%2.2%
2012$2.67B $4.49B$3.44B$0.95B$0.10B76.6%21.2%2.3%
2013$2.86B $4.67B$3.54B$1.05B$0.08B75.8%22.5%1.7%
2014$3.00B $4.58B$3.82B$1.15Bnr76.9%23.1%*
2007-2014$19.22B $33.72B$26.21B$6.78B$0.73B***