In 1912, Arizona's first year of statehood, the first teacher retired with an Arizona State teacher's pension. From 1912 until 1943, Arizona teachers were granted pensions by the State Legislature if they had at least 30 years of service in Arizona schools and were 65 years of age or older. All teachers' pensions were $50 per month; there were no member deposits or survivor benefits.
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, there was intense activity to create a retirement plan for Arizona teachers. The Legislature created the Teachers' Retirement System, effective July 1, 1943. All certified, full-time teachers were members, contributing to a retirement plan with a fixed benefit formula. The employer contribution rate varied, but could not exceed 5.03 percent of the first $3,600 of teachers' salaries.
In 1953, the ASRS was created to provide retirement and other benefits for state employees, including university faculty and employees of the state's political subdivisions who signed a membership contract. Active teachers voted to join the ASRS in 1954, and transferred to ASRS on January 1, 1955. The Teachers' Retirement System continued to pay retirement benefits to retired teacher members who were ineligible to join the ASRS.
In 1970, the Legislature agreed to enact the current Arizona State Retirement System Fixed Benefit Plan if 70 percent or more of state employees and teachers voted to transfer to the new plan. More than 80 percent of eligible members voted for the new plan, which became effective July 1, 1971. Most political subdivisions subsequently voted to join.
Today, the ASRS membership includes the State of Arizona, the three state universities, community college districts, school districts and charter schools, all 15 counties, most cities and towns, and a variety of special districts.
ASRS Historical Timeline
1912 – Arizona becomes the nation’s 48th state and the first pension is granted by the state legislature to teachers.
1943 – The state legislature creates a formal Arizona Teachers’ Retirement System
1953 – The Arizona State Retirement System is created to provide retirement benefits to state employees, including university faculty, and employees of the state's political subdivisions who sign a membership contract
1955 – Active teachers join the Arizona State Retirement System
1971 – The current ASRS Defined Benefit Plan is created, with members having the option to switch to it. All new ASRS members are automatically enrolled in the Defined Benefit Plan.
1989 – The ASRS establishes a health insurance plan for retirees.
1995 – The ASRS establishes a Long Term Disability Income Plan for all members, with a separate fund and contribution rate.