1) It has been 17 years since Texas retired teachers got a raise/cost of living increase (COLA). They are likely to finally get a COLA next year that will be implemented by the Texas legislature due to the strength of the TRS system at present according to the Texas Retired Teachers Association. Here are the details from their website:
2) Get in at least 30 years into the TRS system before retiring as the 30 year mark does make a difference.
3) When I retired with 33 years in the TRS system a few years ago, each additional year past the 30 year mark (for me) added roughly any extra $100 to my monthly retirement TRS payment.
4) Try to get in at least 40 quarters of paying into Social Securuty in order to at least get something from it. If you teach lessons or do something similar on a cash basis, definitely report it under Self Employment income on your income tax as that will be reported to Social Security as payments into the SS system and will count towards your 40 quarters. Even part time work will count. It did for me and I too am now receiving some Social Security payments every month, be it not that much, but it pays my Medicare payments every month along with most of my utilities payments.
5) Go to the Social Security website and open up your account with them. It's free. They will have every bit of Social Security you ever paid into it. My payments from working at a store in 1975 while in high school actually show up. You'll be able to easily figure out exactly how many quarters you need to pay into in order to get some SS payments when you retire.