Texas Emergency Services Retirement System

1. What type of department can join TESRS?


Any fire department or emergency services department in Texas that is not a for-profit entity.


2. How many active members must be in my department to join TESRS?


At least seven active members.


3. Where does the funding come from for the pension?


The local governing body (ESD, County, Municipality).


4. What is the minimum monthly contribution?


The monthly contribution is a minimum of $36.00 per member. There is no maximum.

5. Is there an enrollment period or does it begin as soon as the governing entity signs the contract?


A new department would enroll all eligible members in the department as the effective date of the contract. There is no waiting period.

6. Who is eligible to join TESRS?


Department members must be at least 18 years old, is not a TESRS retiree, and present a certification of physical fitness to the Chief prior to enrollment in the retirement system.


7. How do I enroll?


Each member must complete and submit a Form 502 to the TESRS Participating Department Head (Chief) along with a Certification of Physical Fitness from a physician.


8. Does TESRS get a copy of my Physical Fitness form?


No. This document stays with the department. For more information, see the FAQ: Certification of Physical Fitness that is available on the TESRS website under Forms/Publications.


9. What is qualified service credit?


Each calendar year a member must receive 20 hours of training and participate in a minimum of 25% of the department emergencies.

10. What qualifies as training?


The local department determines their own training guidelines.


11. Is Support Service Staff eligible to be in TESRS?


Yes. Support Staff enrolled in TESRS must complete 20 hours of training each year. The Local Board is responsible for developing a policy to determine how the 25% of emergencies requirement is calculated for department members providing support services.


12. Can we purchase prior years of service?


Yes. Currently, the department can purchase prior years of service up to 15 years of service for each member. The department has up to 5 years to participate.

13. If We want to participate in purchasing prior years of service does every member that has previous service have to participate or can we select just a few?


Every member has to participate equally.


14. Can the purchase of prior years of service be financed?


Yes. The purchase of prior years of service can be financed up to 10 years.

15. Who is on the Local Board?


The Local Board is comprised of 6 members. (3 active members of dept., one from local gov., and 2 members of the community).


16. What is the responsibility of a Local Board?


The Local Board must meet at least 2 times a year (February and August) to review and approve Membership Reconciliation Report (MRR). Your semi-annual invoices are generated from the approved MRR. The Local Board will meet once a year (February) to review and approve the TESRS Annual Report of qualified service. The Local Board also has the responsibility for approving death and disability benefits and approving contested applications for retirement.

17. How will the local board know when new members are added or terminated from TESRS?


The Executive Director will notify the Local Board Chair by email within 30 days.

18. What is the process for correcting an error in a member’s qualified service history?


If an applicant finds an error in the total months/years of qualified service stated that have been reported by the Local Board to TESRS, member should contact the Local Board Chair in writing about any error in their qualified service history or period of enrollment. The Local Board may correct an error by submitting a Form 200 D (correction of error) to TESRS. TESRS will prepare an updated benefit statement and send it to the member for verification.

19. How does the Local Board know who is responsible for enrolling or terminating members?


Under HB3247 86th Legislature, the Participating Department Head (Chief) is responsible unless the governing entity formally designates another to serve in the capacity of the Participating Department Head. TESRS will notify the Local Board of the governing entity designations of another person to serve as Participating Department Head.

20. What is the Chiefs responsibility regarding the enrollment of new members in TESRS?


The Chief should give the Form 502 to new members to complete. Once the Form 502 is completed and signed, it should be faxed to TESRS.


21. What is the Chiefs responsibility regarding the termination of members in TESRS?


The Chief should fill out Form 504 and fax it to TESRS.


22. Can the Chief assign the enrollment and termination to someone else in the department?


Yes. The Chief can delegate this to another person.


23. Does the Chief need to formally delegate in writing his/her assistant to add or delete members?


No. The assignment or delegation of administrative tasks does not need to be in writing. This is up to the Chief.


24. What are the retirement requirements?


You must be 55 years old with at least 10 yrs. of qualified service (50% vested). To be fully vested you must be 55 years old and 15 years of qualified service.


25. What are the active members On-Duty Death benefits?


In the event of an On-Duty Death the beneficiary will receive a onetime payment of $100,000.00. The surviving spouse and dependent children are also entitled to a monthly benefit.


26. What are the Off-Duty Death benefits?


In the event of an Off-Duty Death the beneficiary will receive a onetime lump sum or a monthly benefit.


27. Is there a Disability benefit?


If you become disabled you are eligible to receive a minimum of $400.00 monthly.


28. Do I still have a death benefit if I start receiving my monthly retirement benefit?


No. Once you begin to receive your monthly benefit, the death benefits and on-duty disability benefits goes away.

29. Can the surviving spouse receive an annuity if an active member dies off-duty?

If the surviving spouse is the only designated beneficiary of a member who was eligible to retire at the time of death, the surviving spouse may elect to receive 2/3 of the monthly annuity that the decedent would have received if he/she had retired on his date of death

30. Can the surviving spouse receive an annuity if a vested terminated member dies before commencing a service retirement annuity?

The surviving spouse of a vested member can receive 2/3 of the monthly annuity that the member would have received if he/she had retired on the later of the following dates: the date the member would have reached age 55, or the date the surviving spouse applies for the annuity.

31. What is the maximum number of years after 15 years of service that your money will be compounded at 6.2%?


There is no maximum number of years for the 6.2% compound as long as you are not drawing a monthly pension.

32. Is there a form I need to submit to get my monthly benefit?


Yes. The member needs to fill out a Form SRA (Service Retirement Application) and tax withholding certificate which can be found here. Once the completed forms are signed, you can fax them to TESRS.