Site lets teachers tally benefits

More than 123,000 Oklahoma educators and administrators will be able to calculate their retirement benefits online thanks to a Web site launched last month by the Teachers' Retirement System of Oklahoma (TRS).

The new site (www.YourOklahoma.com/trs) features a retirement benefit calculator that computes projected benefits based on user input. Previously, members had to call TRS for all benefit projections, which at times could take several days to fulfill.

"Teachers will be able to receive better information regarding retirement planning," said Jeff McCartney, general manager for YourOklahoma, the official state Web site that is managed by e-government firm NIC. "A teacher can enter basic information on an online form in order to do a 'what if' analysis on what their benefits will be from a retirement standpoint."

Additionally, an online remittance reporting application offers Oklahoma's public and charter schools — including colleges and universities — a new way to communicate employee information to TRS. Employers can upload benefit contribution reports to TRS in seconds. The old system of reporting educator benefits involved multiple paper documents often mailed to the TRS office.

TRS, which funded the Web site project for about $40,000, will be able to offload some of the work it had to handle manually in the past. "This information can now be stored electronically," McCartney said.

The TRS portion of YourOklahoma has been up and running smoothly since July 23. However, McCartney said there would be future adjustments to the site. "The retirement calculator gives an estimate on future benefits," he said. "Although we are extremely close when it comes to the projected numbers, we want to be closer."

YourOklahoma is working on a few projects statewide and officials hope to complete at least half of these tasks within the coming year, McCartney said. "We are looking forward to several years of working with the state of Oklahoma," he added.

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