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North Dakota Retirement & Investment Office
The TFFR Member Handbook was created to provide you with a quick reference source for questions regarding TFFR. This booklet is not intended to encompass all aspects of TFFR. It is updated to reflect changes made to the plan by the 2015 Legislature. Detailed information can be obtained by contacting RIO. This publication can be made available in alternative formats.
The mission of TFFR, a trust fund, is to advocate for, develop, and administer a comprehensive retirement program for all trust fund members within the resources available.
Investment and Funding Goals:
Dear ND TFFR Member:
TFFR has a long tradition of dedicated service to North Dakota's educational community. With over 20,000 active, inactive, and retired members, TFFR has been helping North Dakota teachers and administrators prepare for the future since 1913. Since that time, we have always strived to serve our members in a prompt, professional and courteous manner while maintaining the financial integrity of the fund for future generations of retired teachers. Your membership in TFFR is a positive investment in your future.
Whether you are a new teacher, a mid career educator, or a seasoned veteran, TFFR is here for you. As you go about your career, TFFR is behind the scenes – answering your questions, safeguarding your benefits, investing your retirement funds, and administering a financially sound retirement plan – so that when it comes time for you to retire, you can enjoy your retirement years.
Please review the 2015 edition of the TFFR Member Handbook. This publication will help you become better acquainted with the features of your retirement plan. It summarizes the benefits available to you and your beneficiary(ies) in the form of retirement, disability, and death benefits. You can obtain additional information from our website, newsletters, brochures, outreach programs, and personal consultations with retirement counselors. We hope that you will find the information helpful in your retirement planning.
The 2015 Member Handbook includes legislative changes approved in recent years. Most of these changes were designed to address declining funding levels brought on by the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Recent funding improvement legislation, along with a stable, healthy economy, should strengthen the TFFR plan, and help it to remain financially stable for decades to come.
On behalf of the ND TFFR Board of Trustees and RIO administrative staff, we pledge to you our continued commitment to lifetime security and service for North Dakota’s public school educators. We look forward to serving you throughout a long and successful career in education.
Fay Kopp, CRC, CRA
The TFFR Board of Trustees is responsible for administering the TFFR retirement program. The Board has the authority to establish investment policy; arrange for actuarial and medical consultants; pay benefits and consultant fees; submit proposed legislative changes; and determine appropriate levels of service to TFFR members. The TFFR program is administered by the Retirement and Investment Office (RIO).
The TFFR Board consists of the state treasurer, state superintendent of public instruction, and five members appointed by the Governor. Members are appointed for five-year terms and include one active school administrator, two active teachers, and two retired members.
Current TFFR Board Members
Rob Lech, Active Administrator
Four TFFR Board members also serve on the State Investment Board (SIB).
The State Investment Board (SIB) is responsible for setting policies and procedures guiding the investment of about $2 billion in assets for TFFR. The funds are invested following the “Prudent Investor Rule” and must be invested exclusively for the benefit of TFFR members. The investment program is administered by the Retirement and Investment Office (RIO). The SIB is also the administrative board for RIO.
Current SIB members:
Drew Wrigley, Lt. Governor, Chair
The North Dakota Retirement and Investment Office (RIO) exists in order that:
TFFR is a qualified defined benefit public pension plan covered under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). TFFR must be administered in compliance with IRC regulations, in particular with Section 415 maximum benefit limitations; Section 401(a)(9) minimum distribution requirements; Section 401(a)(17) maximum compensation limit; and Section 401(a)(31) rollovers and transfers.
North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) Chapter 15-39.1 contains the actual language governing the Fund. The NDCC, along with Title 82 of the North Dakota Administrative Code (NDAC), are summarized in this handbook. If differences exist between the information in this handbook and state or federal law, the laws shall govern.
The TFFR plan is funded on an actuarial reserve basis. That is, money is invested for your future retirement benefits while you are actively teaching. Benefit funding comes from three sources:
TFFR serves almost 10,000 teachers from 216 employer groups and pays benefits to over 7,500 retirees and beneficiaries.
HB 1064 was approved by the 2015 Legislature and included only technical corrections which were required by federal tax law in order for TFFR to maintain its status as a qualified governmental plan. The bill did not make plan design changes to benefits or contribution rates.
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