North Carolina Teachers and State Employee Retirement System and Health Benefits

Note: This blog post features a brief from page 26 of our 2018 Facts & Figures publication, contextualizing North Carolina education data with a short description of an historical feature or a critical issue in North Carolina. Read more and find further information at


All full-time employees in North Carolina public schools participate in the state’s Teachers and State Employees Retirement System (TSERS). TSERS provides qualifying employees a guaranteed salary and individual health benefits upon retirement from state government.

In North Carolina, employees vest in TSERS after five years of service. Employees may retire with unreduced benefits after 30 years at any age, after 25 years of service at age 60 or older, or after five years at age 65 or older. Teachers contribute 6% of their pre-tax salary to TSERS, a rate that has been consistent since 1975.

Nearly all states maintain a defined benefit (pension) plan for teachers and other state employees; in North Carolina and 29 other states, all teachers also participate in social security.

TSERS is roughly comparable to the national median state plan and significantly more generous than the private sector average. Retiree health benefits in North Carolina are significantly more generous than the national median state plan and the private sector.

Active state employee premiums for individual health care coverage are more generous than most other state plans and the private sector, but less generous than average for family plans.


Source:  North Carolina TSERS Handbook, NCGA Fiscal Research Division – Comparison of the Value of Employee Benefits