Hawaii Teacher Retirement

Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by George

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Teachers in Hawaii can retire with full benefits after reaching a certain age and years of service. These requirements are met for new teachers at 60 with 30 years of credited service or at 65 with ten years of service.

In Hawaii, teachers are enrolled in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) of the State of Hawaii. Established in 1926, it is the state’s most extensive public retirement system. It provides retirement, disability, survivor, and other benefits to all eligible full-time and part-time state and county employees. The ERS offers teachers a hybrid retirement plan, where both teachers and their employers contribute a portion of their compensation to a pension fund. This mixed benefit provides a defined benefit (DB) multiplier of 2% of final pay for teachers and general employees. Employee contributions earn an annual interest rate determined by the Board of Trustees.

The benefits of working for the department include enrollment in the state pension plan, health plans, access to tax-deferred programs, and more. Teachers can have a fully portable primary pension plan with vesting after ten years. Teachers must keep their license current to return to the classroom without having to reapply for their pension if they choose to do so.

Overall, Hawaii’s teacher pension system is well-funded and provides excellent benefits for those who work as educators in the state

Who is Eligible for a Hawaii Teacher Pension?

Age and Years of Service

When Hawaii teacher reaches the age of 55 and has 25 years of teaching service credit, they are eligible to retire from the Hawaii Teacher Retirement System. Teachers in Hawaii who have completed at least 30 years of teaching service can withdraw at any age.

Teachers in Hawaii who are thinking about retiring should be aware that the Hawaii Teacher Retirement System offers some programs with varying benefits and financial considerations.

Hawaii teachers should also consider their future income needs when planning for retirement. Hawaii teachers should also be aware that members who retire before age 65 face a 10% early withdrawal penalty under the Hawaii Teacher Retirement System.

Furthermore, any retirement income from the Hawaii Teacher Retirement System must be taxed.

How Much Does Hawaii’s Teacher Pension Plan Cost?

The teacher pension fund in Hawaii is an essential consideration for both current and new teachers. Contributions are determined by the state legislature and can vary from year to year. In 2018, teachers contributed 6.08 percent of their salary to the fund, while the state contributed 20.36 percent, for a total contribution rate of 26.44 percent of teachers’ wages to benefits. Only 7.82 percent of that total came from the state, with 18.62 percent going toward paying down the pension fund’s debt.

Unfortunately, this system only provides portability to educators who move across states or leave teaching entirely, resulting in lower total retirement savings than if they had stayed with the same system throughout their careers. It is critical that new and current teachers in Hawaii carefully consider how their career plans interact with the state’s retirement plan, as those who stay the longest will benefit the most from it.

Benefits of the Hawaii Teacher Retirement System

State and county government employees are covered by the Hawaii Employees Retirement System (ERS), which offers retirement, disability, and other benefits. Teachers in this system can retire at 55 if they have five years of credited service or 25 if they have 25 years of credited service, regardless of age. Teachers can receive a monthly benefit based on the number of years worked and the average salary during their highest-paid consecutive three-year period when they retire. In addition, the ERS provides survivor benefits, health insurance subsidies, and long-term care coverage. Teachers can enjoy financial security in their retirement years with these benefits.

Financial Security

The primary source of financial security for Hawaii’s teachers is the Hawaii Teachers Retirement System (HTRS). Hawaii’s educators have access to various retirement options through the system, including defined benefits and combination plans that offer income after retirement. Members can make pre-tax contributions through payroll deductions or one-time deposits. Additionally, HTRS offers a 457 deferred compensation plan, which gives members more chances to save money.

Hawaii educators can benefit from these plans to guarantee financial security during retirement. For a very long time, HTRS has given Hawaii’s teachers unwavering financial security and hope for the future. HTRS works to ensure Hawaii’s educators have the knowledge and tools necessary to make decisions confidently from the moment they sign up for the system. Teachers in Hawaii can be confident that their retirement plan management is ethical, secure, and responsible. The mission of the Hawaii Teachers Retirement System is to assist Hawaii’s educators in making safe plans.

Health Care

Hawaii teachers’ retirement health care is a fantastic benefit for Hawaii teachers. The Hawaii State Teacher Retirement System (HSTRS) provides retired members with health care coverage, including access to preferred provider organizations (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and point-of-service plans. HSTRS also offers Medicare Part A and B coverage, vision and dental procedures, and prescription drug coverage to its members. Additional health care services, such as long-term care insurance and access to various supplemental coverages, are available to Hawaii educators. Hawaii teachers’ retirement health care gives them peace of mind that they will be financially and medically cared for in retirement.

Glossary of Financial Terms

Vesting period

The minimum number of years a teacher must work to be qualified for a pension. Although vesting periods vary by state, they typically last five years. Every state allows teachers who quit their positions before they are vested to withdraw their contributions, sometimes with interest. However, just a few jurisdictions permit these workers to receive any employer contributions made on their behalf.

Employee contribution

The proportion of a teacher’s annual income paid to the pension fund.

Employer contribution

The proportion of a teacher’s annual income that the state, a school district, or both contribute to the pension fund.

Average cost

The annual retirement benefit expense is expressed as a proportion of teacher pay, and these costs do not include debt.

Amortization cost

A pension fund’s annual payment toward any unfunded liabilities. This may also be considered the pension fund’s debt service expense.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for applying for Hawaii Teacher Retirement?

You must fill out an application form to apply for Hawaii Teacher Retirement. The forms are available online from the Hawaii Department of Education or can be picked up at a Hawaii State Public Library. You will also need to show proof of age and residency in Hawaii.

How much money can I expect from Hawaii Teacher Retirement?

The amount of money you receive from Hawaii Teacher Retirement is determined by your years of service and other factors. In general, Hawaii teachers with at least ten years of experience can expect to receive a portion of their average salary for the three highest-paid years.

Is it possible to retire early with Hawaii Teacher Retirement?

Yes, Hawaii Teacher Retirement allows Hawaii teachers who meet specific criteria to retire early. Teachers in Hawaii who are at least 50 years old and have worked for the Hawaii Department of Education for at least 15 years can apply for early retirement benefits.

Pros & Cons


There are many factors to consider if you are looking for new places to relocate for teaching, live in Hawaii and want to be a teacher, or have your heart set on moving to a beautiful island in Hawaii.

The most significant disadvantage of teaching in Hawaii is the low pay compared to the cost of living. If you are willing to give up some of the finer things in life for a simpler life to make ends meet or better, the teacher salary in Hawaii does not have to be a roadblock in your plans.

  • Excellent road and public facility infrastructure funding
  • Lower than the national average crime rate
  • Exposure to the distinctive Hawaiian culture
  • Recreational opportunities abound.
  • Beautiful beaches and historical sites to visit
  • Possibilities for more interactive lessons for teachers


If you are willing to adapt to Hawaii’s unique lifestyle and overcome the cost of living, the benefits of living in Hawaii may outweigh the drawbacks. Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches and forests in the world, and if you enjoy being outside, there are numerous opportunities to explore various scenery. Having an Aloha spirit in Hawaii means being a part of a rich and welcoming culture with so much to offer. Teaching in Hawaii could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  • Salary of a teacher concerning the cost of living
  • Droughts, which cause water restrictions
  • Tropical climates prone to severe tropical storms and hurricanes
  • Isolated from the rest of the world

Final Thought – Hawaii Teacher Retirement

Hawaii Teacher Retirement is an advantageous program. It offers the security of a dependable retirement plan and various other benefits that help teachers maximize their contributions over time. Hawaii Teacher Retirement provides members with pre-tax and post-tax options, allowing them to maximize their contributions and savings.

Hawaii also offers several tax-advantaged accounts, such as Hawaii Teacher Retirement, that would enable members to save for long-term financial goals.

Hawaii Teacher Retirement is an excellent way for Hawaii educators to invest in their future and plan for a comfortable retirement. Hawaii Teacher Retirement is a perfect choice for Hawaii teachers looking to retire comfortably and securely, thanks to its generous benefits and secure savings options.

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