The following words and phrases as used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context: (1) “Retirement system” means the Teachers’ Retirement System of Florida provided for in s. 238.02.
(2) “Department” means the Department of Management Services.
(3) “Teacher” means any member of the teaching or professional staff and any certificated employee of any public free school, of any district school system and career center, any member of the teaching or professional staff of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, child training schools of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Corrections, and any tax-supported institution of higher learning of the state, and any member and any certified employee of the Department of Education, any certified employee of the retirement system, any full-time employee of any nonprofit professional association or corporation of teachers functioning in Florida on a statewide basis, which seeks to protect and improve public school opportunities for children and advance the professional and welfare status of its members, any person now serving as superintendent, or who was serving as county superintendent of public instruction on July 1, 1939, and any hereafter duly elected or appointed superintendent, who holds a valid Florida teachers’ certificate. In all cases of doubt the Department of Management Services shall determine whether any person is a teacher as defined herein.
(4) “Member” means any person included in the membership of the retirement system as provided in s. 238.05.
(5) “Employer” means the state, the school boards of all the districts of the state employing teachers, or community college district boards of trustees, subject to the provisions of this chapter, any other agency of and within the state by which the teacher is paid, or any nonprofit professional association or corporation of teachers as referred to in subsection (3).
(6) “Service” means service as a teacher as described in subsection (3) rendered while a member of the retirement system.
(7) “Prior service” means service as a teacher rendered prior to the date of establishment of the retirement system and for which credit is allowable under s. 238.06. (8) “Membership service” means service as a teacher as described in s. 238.06. (9) “Creditable service” means prior service plus membership service for which credit is allowable under s. 238.06.
(10) “Beneficiary” means any person in receipt of a retirement allowance or other benefit as provided by this chapter.
(11) “Regular interest” means interest at such rate as may be set from time to time by the Department of Management Services.
(12) “Accumulated contributions” means the sum of all the amounts deducted from the salary of a member and credited to his or her individual account in the Annuity Savings Trust Fund provided in s. 238.09(1), together with regular interest on such accounts.
(13) “Earnable compensation” means the full compensation payable to a teacher working the full working time for his or her position. In respect to plans A, B, C, and D only, in cases where compensation includes maintenance, the Department of Management Services shall fix the value of that part of the compensation not paid in money; provided that all members shall from July 1, 1955, make contributions to the retirement system on the basis of “earnable compensation” as defined herein and all persons who are members on July 1, 1955, may, upon application, have their “earnable compensation” for the time during which they have been members prior to that date determined on the basis of “earnable compensation” as defined in this law, upon paying to the retirement system, on or before the date of retirement, a sum equal to the additional contribution with accumulated regular interest thereon they would have made if “earnable compensation” had been defined, at the time they became members, as it is now defined. However, earnable compensation for all plan years beginning on or after July 1, 1990, shall not include any amounts in excess of the compensation limitation (originally $200,000) established by s. 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code prior to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which limitation shall be adjusted for changes in the cost of living since 1989, in the manner provided by s. 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1991. This limitation, which has been part of the Teachers’ Retirement System since plan years beginning on or after July 1, 1990, shall be adjusted as required by federal law for qualified government plans.
(14) “Average final compensation,” with respect to plans A, B, C, and D of s. 238.07, means the average annual earnable compensation of a member for the 10 years of the member’s service as a teacher during which he or she received his or her highest salary; and with respect to plan E of s. 238.07, “average final compensation” means the average annual earnable compensation of a member for 10 years during the last 15 years prior to retirement during which he or she contributed and in which the member’s annual earnable compensation was highest or the average of his or her annual earnable compensation since July 1, 1945, if greater. For a teacher who is a member of the Legislature, “average final compensation” means the greater of the average annual earnable compensation for 10 years during the last 15 years prior to the beginning of his or her legislative service during which he or she contributed and in which his or her earnable compensation was highest or the average annual earnable compensation for 10 years during the last 15 years prior to retirement during which he or she contributed and in which his or her annual earnable compensation was highest or the average of his or her annual earnable compensation since July 1, 1945, if greater.
(15) “Annuity” means annual payments for life derived as provided in this chapter from the accumulated contributions of a member. All annuities shall be paid in equal monthly installments.
(16) “Pension” means annual payments for life derived as provided in this chapter, from money provided by the state and means, when used in conjunction with plan E, the excess of the retirement allowance as provided by plan E over the annuity as defined above. All pensions shall be paid in equal monthly installments.
(17) “Retirement allowance” means annual payments for life and is the sum of the annuity plus the pension; except that, when used in conjunction with plan E of s. 238.07, “retirement allowance” means the total retirement allowance payable under plan E.
(18) “Actuarial equivalent” means a benefit of equal value when computed at regular interest upon the basis of the mortality tables adopted by the division.
(19) Gender-specific pronouns whenever used include the other gender.