How Retirement Age Can Affect Your NYSLRS Retirement Benefit

Only you can decide when it’s the right time to retire from public service, but keep in mind that your age at retirement can affect your retirement benefit. If you’re a New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) member in a regular retirement plan, you can retire with full benefits at the age specified by your plan. You have the option to retire as early as age 55, but you’d receive a permanently reduced benefit.

Full Retirement Ages

Most retirement plans have an age requirement you’d have to meet to retire with full benefits. For Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members in Tiers 2, 3, 4 and 5 and Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members in Tiers 2, 3, 5 and 6, the full retirement age is 62. ERS Tier 6 members can retire with full benefits at age 63. PFRS Tier 6 members who have left the payroll are eligible to apply for their benefit at age 63.

Service Credit Exceptions

For some retirement plans, if you have a certain amount of service credit, benefit reductions don’t apply to you. Benefit reductions don’t apply to ERS Tier 2, 3 or 4 members who retire between 55 and 62 with 30 or more years of service credit. Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System with 30 or more years of service can also retire between 55 and 62 with an unreduced benefit.

Retirement benefits for all other ERS Tier 5 and Tier 6 members and PFRS Tier 2, 3, 5 and 6 members not in a special 20- or 25-year plan will be reduced for early retirement — even if they have 30 years of service credit.

Benefit Reductions

If you’re thinking about retiring early, it’s important to know that the benefit reductions are prorated by month, so the closer you are to your full retirement age, the less the reduction will be. It’s also important to know that once you retire with a reduced benefit, that reduction is permanent.

The following tables break down the reductions by membership tiers:

ERS Tiers 2, 3 and 4 / PFRS Tiers 2, 3 (Article 11), 5 and 6

Age at Retirement Percentage of Reduction
62 0
61 6.00
60 12.00
59 15.00
58 18.00
57 21.00
56 24.00
55 27.00

ERS Tier 3 State Correction Officers and
Security Hospital Treatment Assistants (SHTA)

Age at Retirement Percentage of Reduction
62 0
61 6.67
60 13.33
59 16.67
58 20.00
57 23.33
56 26.67
55 30.00

ERS Tier 5

Age at Retirement Percentage of Reduction
62 0
61 6.67
60 13.33
59 18.33
58 23.33
57 28.33
56 33.33
55 38.33

ERS Tier 6

Age at Retirement Percentage of Reduction
63 0
62 6.50
61 13.00
60 19.50
59 26.00
58 32.50
57 39.00
56 45.50
55 52.00

Contact us if you have any questions about benefit reductions or any other retirement-related topics. Please be sure to review your online retirement plan booklet for a full description of the benefits you’re entitled to as well as the reductions and restrictions you should be aware of.

NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time: ERS Tiers 3 & 4

(We know that’s two, but let us explain)

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you’re assigned a tier based on the date of your membership. There are six tiers in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and five in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) – so there are many different ways to determine benefits for our members. Our new series, NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time, walks through each tier and gives you a quick look at the benefits the members are eligible for before and at retirement.

Today’s post looks at Tiers 3 and 4 in the Employees’ Retirement System. Now, we know these are technically two tiers, but many of the members in these tiers are eligible to retire under the same retirement plan: Article 14 (for Tier 3 members) or Article 15 (for Tier 3 and 4 members). They also represent the largest percentage – 79.2 percent – of our ERS membership. Of our current 609,565 ERS members, 482,520 are in Tiers 3 and 4.

Check out the graphic below for the basic retirement information for Tier 3 and 4 members.

ERS-Tiers-3-and-4-Benefits

If you’re an ERS Tier 3 or 4 member, find your retirement plan publication from the list below for more detailed information about your benefits:

Stay tuned for more NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time posts. Next time, we’ll take a look at one of our PFRS tiers.

Change Your Mind, or Plans? Here’s How to Withdraw a NYSLRS Retirement Application

Even though you’ve been preparing for retirement, sometimes certain life events happen and you may find yourself in a position where you just aren’t ready to retire. In some cases, this can happen right after you’ve already filed your NYSLRS retirement application. Don’t panic – you can pull your retirement application at any time before your retirement date.

How Can I Stop a Retirement Application I’ve Already Submitted?

To withdraw your application, you can either submit the Withdrawal of Application for Service Retirement (RS6354) form or send us a signed letter indicating you wish to withdraw your retirement application. Please include your name, address and registration number and/or the last four digits of your Social Security number in your letter.

Filing Forms with the Comptroller

Filing a form to withdraw your service retirement application is just like filing a form to apply for a service retirement. For any form to be considered “filed with the Comptroller,” it must be received by:

We will consider a form filed on the day you deliver it personally or when the Post Office delivers it to us. If you are concerned about meeting a deadline, you can mail the document via “Certified Mail – Return Receipt Requested” and we will consider it filed on the date it was mailed. You can also send the document to us via fax, but you must still mail us the original to meet the filing requirement. Please see our Contact Us page for more information.

Please keep in mind that if your retirement withdrawal is filed on or after your effective date of retirement, it is invalid and you will be officially retired.

When We Receive Your Retirement Withdrawal

Once we receive your request to withdraw your retirement application, we’ll send you an acknowledgment letter and also notify your employer, but we strongly encourage you to let your employer know immediately of your decision. That will help you and your employer avoid any unnecessary termination processing.

When Your Circumstances Change

When you’re ready to retire, you’ll need to file a new Application for Service Retirement (RS6037) form. Your application must be on file with us at least 15 days, but not more than 90 days, before your new retirement date.

Contact us if you have any questions about withdrawing your retirement application or any other retirement-related topic you might have.

Just Started A New Public Sector Job? Remember This Step…

Are you a current New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) member who just started working at a new job in the public sector? Even though you’re already a NYSLRS member, make certain that your new employer sends a membership application for you. By sending us a new membership application, your employer provides us with updated information about your membership.

The Importance of the Filling Out a New Membership Application

iStock_000022114002Large_resizedBesides providing updated information to us, like the start date of your new position and your job title, the membership application is important for other reasons as well. Up-to-date member information:

  • Ensures that your employment history and benefit projection are accurately reported in your member annual statement.
  • Helps guarantee that benefit determinations are based on the most current information.
  • Identifies any delays between the time you began working and the time your employer started reporting you.
  • Ensures that we will receive the correct amount of contributions for your membership in NYSLRS.
  • Allows us to update your retirement plan in our computer system if you change plans as a result of your new employment.

Starting a new public sector job is also a good opportunity for you to update your beneficiary information. Members often neglect to change their beneficiary designations after marriages, births or deaths, which can result in payments being made to the last named beneficiary, who may not necessarily be the person you would currently select.

Submitting the Membership Application

You should let your employer know that you are already a member of NYSLRS and need to have a new application submitted. Your employer will then complete the appropriate sections of the application, since only employers can complete and submit an application when you change public employers. Check with your Human Resources office to confirm that your application has been submitted.

Contact us if you have any questions about submitting a new membership application, or any other retirement-related topic you might have.

Top Five Pre-Retirement Goals For NYSLRS Members in 2015

This is the time of year when people set goals for themselves. At the New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), we believe in setting realistic financial goals, especially when it comes to preparing for retirement. Here are five goals we think you can achieve in 2015:

  1. Choose a sensible savings plan that works for you. There are several ways to save for retirement, including starting a deferred compensation plan like the New York State Deferred Compensation Plan. The most important part of developing a savings plan is to start early. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. And if you’re nearing retirement age, “binge saving” is always an option worth considering. Check out our Weekly Investment Plan to see how making a weekly investment can grow by age 65.

  2. Track your current and future monthly expenses and income. We feature worksheets to help you prepare a post-retirement budget on our website. Keep track of what you spend now for a month or two to get an idea of how you spend your money. You should include periodic expenses, such as car insurance payments, or property and school taxes as well. Use another of our worksheets to help you summarize your current monthly income and estimate your post-retirement monthly income. Having a post-retirement budget can help you decide how to spend money in retirement, and if you’ll need to supplement your pension.

  3. Request a NYSLRS retirement estimate. A NYSLRS retirement estimate provides you with an estimation of what your pension could be based on the information we have on file for you. You should request an estimate 18 months before your anticipated date of retirement. Many members don’t request an estimate because they don’t know their exact retirement date, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a good way to determine how retirement ready you are. At the very least, you should use our online Benefit Calculator to estimate your pension based on information you enter. Have your Member Annual Statement handy to help fill in key information.

  4. Pay off your NYSLRS loans, if you have any. An outstanding loan balance at retirement will permanently reduce your NYSLRS retirement benefit. You cannot make loan payments after you retire, and the reduction does not go away after we recover the funds. Visit our website for information about making additional payments or increasing your loan payment amount.

  5. Consult a financial planner or accountant. Financial planners don’t manage your money, but will assess your present financial condition and develop a practical plan to meet your specific goal and needs.

If you ever have any retirement-related questions, please contact us. And Happy New Year!

If You’re Proud of the Work Public Servants Do, We Want to Hear from You

Know a NYSLRS member or retiree whose public service story should be told? Let us know.

The New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) has more than 600,000 members and 400,000 retirees. And every one of them has a story to tell.

NYSLRS is a public retirement system full of stories. Stories about hardworking public servants finding value and meaning in the work they do, especially when they help another New Yorker. They’re the stories that you may not hear about, because to some, they’re just doing their job.

Profiles in Public Service

Next year, we’re going to recognize the public service of our NYSLRS membership with a new video series. This series will spotlight the good work some of our members are doing for New York State, in a variety of positions and responsibilities you may not be aware of. We’ll also highlight public service retirees, because after a career of working for the people of New York, many NYSLRS retirees still give back to their communities as mentors, volunteers and supporters of charitable causes.

Submit a Name, and Story

Do you know someone who fits the bill? They may be a co-worker, friend or family member. Maybe you don’t have to look farther than your own mirror. The people who we’d like to know about are proud of their work helping others. It could be the municipal worker who plows your snowy street at 3am, or the town clerk who also volunteers at the local animal shelter. Or the retired cop or fireman who, after years of protecting the public, now operates an organic farm cooperative. You get the idea.

In short, we’re looking for the unsung heroes of the public sector whose work positively affects, or has affected, the people New York State. And we want to share their stories right here in the New York Retirement News blog.

Use the comment field for this blog post to submit the name of the person you’d like to nominate and include a very brief description of the public service story you think should be told about that person. We’ll get back to you to gather more details. Of course, not every name nominated will have their story told, but we’ll do our best to tell as many stories as possible.

We look forward to hearing your recommendations.

Advice on Advance Payments

After you retire, we start calculating the amount of your final retirement benefit. This means you won’t receive your full pension payment right away. It often takes time for your former employer to provide us the specific information we need to determine your final retirement benefit, such as your employer’s certification of your unused vacation and sick leave credits. So, for the first few months of your retirement, your first payments will be advance payments.

What Are Advance Payments?

Advance payments are based on your most recent NYSLRS retirement estimate. They provide up to 95 percent of the retirement option you elected. You’ll continue to receive advance payments until we finalize your benefit. Currently, our pension calculations can take up to five months to complete, though every case is different; if we requested more information from you or your employer, it may lengthen the amount of time it takes to complete your retirement case.

Advance payments are always paid via check and are mailed to the address we have on file for you. Make sure we have the correct address for you when you retire.

When Can I Expect My First Advance Payment?

The month you retire determines when advance payments would start. The table below shows the schedule of mailing days for a new retiree’s first advance payment.

Date of Retirement Date First Advance Payment is Mailed
January 1-31 1st business day of March
February 1-28 (29) 1st business day of April
March 1-31 1st business day of May
April 1-30 1st business day of June
May 1-31 1st business day of July
June 1-30 1st business day of August
July 1-31 1st business day of September
August 1-31 1st business day of October
September 1-30 1st business day of November
October 1-31 1st business day of December
November 1-30 1st business day of January
December 1-31 1st business day of February

What Happens Once My Pension is Finalized?

Once your monthly pension is finalized, we’ll send you a retroactive payment to make up the difference between the advance payments you’ve received and the amount actually due (minus federal withholding). You’ll also receive a letter explaining how we calculated your final retirement benefit, and what your final monthly benefit will be for life.

Once you receive your retroactive payment, you’re officially part of the regular pension disbursement schedule. If you signed up for direct deposit, your monthly pension payment will be deposited directly into your bank account on the last business day of the month. If you didn’t sign up for direct deposit, you’ll receive a pension check, which is mailed out on the second-to-last business day of the month.

If you have questions about what to expect once you retire, check out our Life Changes: A Guide for Retirees publication, or contact us.

Rejoining NYSLRS After Retirement

It’s a scenario you probably haven’t thought of – if you retire from public employment and later decide to go back to work in the public sector in New York, you actually have the option of rejoining the New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). However, the Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL) regulates post-retirement employment for NYSLRS members, which could affect your pension benefits.

Active Senior Businessman Series

Note: This post applies only to service retirees of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) who are rejoining the same System. Different information applies to:

  • Retirees of other retirement systems
  • Persons joining a different retirement system than the one they retired from
  • Disability retirees

Rejoining NYSLRS

First, it’s important to know that you don’t have to rejoin NYSLRS. But if you do, Tier 3, 4, 5 and 6 retirees may rejoin immediately and return to their former tiers. As for Tier 1 and Tier 2 retirees, they must have one year of service after re-entering employment to be eligible for an active member death benefit. Deferring joining the retirement system for one year can protect you until you are eligible for the active member death benefit, meaning you would still be covered by any post-retirement death benefit and option under which you retired while in deferment. There could be a cost associated with the deferment.

Retiring Again

When you retire again, a new retirement date will be established. However, a new retirement date can:

In addition, if you have previously retired under an early retirement incentive plan enacted by the Legislature and your pension is recalculated, you would lose any incentive service included in the calculation of your original benefit.

If you’re a member of Tier 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and earn less than two years of service credit in your new membership, your original pension will be reinstated along with your option election and date of retirement. You won’t receive an additional benefit for the service credit earned after your return to membership. If you’re a Tier 1 member, your original pension will be reinstated and you’ll receive an additional benefit based on your service after the return to membership.

Once you earn two or more years of service credit in your new membership, you’ll have the option to receive a recalculated pension that takes into account your original service credit, the additional service credit you earned, and any increase in salary. You may also select a new option for benefit payments, if you wish.

But in order to receive a recalculated benefit that includes your additional service, you’ll have to repay, at the Single Life Allowance (Option 0) rate, the entire amount of the pension that you received when you first retired. The amount, plus interest compounded, must be repaid in either a lump sum or through installments after you have two years of service credit in the new membership and before you retire again. Interest continues to accrue compounded until the balance is paid in full. Alternatively, you could request a permanent reduction of the new pension to account for any benefits previously received. If you choose the permanent reduction, it must be done at retirement and will include interest compounded from the date you received the monies in the first retirement until your second date of retirement.

Members with two or more years of service credit who do not wish to repay previous benefits and receive a recalculated pension will have their original pension reinstated and will receive an additional benefit based on their service after the return to membership.

Where Can I Learn More About Post-Retirement Employment?

If you are seriously considering rejoining the Retirement System, we strongly urge you to contact us to discuss the matter more fully and to obtain additional information.

Since rejoining the Retirement System after returning to work may prove financially prohibitive, you might want to consult a financial advisor before making any decision. Please read our publication, Life Changes: What If I Work After Retirement?, for more information. You can also find information about Section 211 and Section 212, laws that can also affect your return to public employment.

What Unused Sick Leave at Retirement Might Mean For You

Members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) may receive additional service credit for their unused, unpaid sick leave at retirement. If you’re a New York State employee, or if your employer has adopted Section 41(j) for the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or 341(j) for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) of the Retirement and Social Security Law, you may be eligible for this credit.

How It Works*

Your unused, unpaid sick leave may add up to 165 days (7½ months) to your service credit. The credit is calculated on a 260 annual workday basis—165 days divided by 260 days equals 7½ months—so you may receive an added credit of .63 of a year.

The additional credit for most ERS members can’t exceed 165 days. Most Tier 6 ERS members can receive up to 100 days (.38 of a year) of additional credit. For State employees in certain negotiating units, up to 200 days of unused, unpaid sick leave (.77 of a year) may be credited.

Also, depending on your employer, your unused sick leave may be used to cover some of the costs of your health insurance premiums during your retirement. (Please check with your employer for more information.)

*This section was revised on 12/5/14.

Calculation Example

If you have 130 unused, unpaid sick leave days when you retire, we would divide 130 by 260 and you would get .50 of a year, or 6 months, additional service credit.

Restrictions

While you may receive additional service credit for your sick leave under Sections 41(j) or 341(j), there are some restrictions. Credit for unused sick leave at retirement can’t be used to:

  • Qualify for vesting. For example, if you have nine years and ten months of service credit and you need ten years to be vested, your sick leave credit cannot be used to reach the ten years.
  • Qualify for a better retirement benefit calculation. For example, if you have 19¾ years of service credit, but your pension will improve substantially if you have 20 years, your sick leave credit cannot be used to reach the 20 years.
  • Increase your pension beyond the maximum amount payable under your retirement plan.
  • Meet the service credit requirement to retire under a special 20- or 25-year plan.

Check your retirement plan booklet for more information about this benefit. You can also check page 4 of your Member Annual Statement to see if this optional benefit is available to you.

Contributing Towards Your Retirement

What are Member Contributions?

Most New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) members contribute a percentage of their gross earnings to the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund). These member contributions, in addition to employer contributions and investment earnings, help make sure the Fund stays well-funded to support the retirement benefits earned by members and retirees.

Types of Member Contributions

Membership-Contributions_TimelineYour tier and retirement plan determine if you must contribute and what percentage of your earnings you contribute. At NYSLRS, there are two types of member contributions: required and voluntary. If you belong to a retirement plan with required contributions, you must make member contributions for the length of time stated in your retirement plan. If you make voluntary contributions, you belong to a retirement plan where you don’t have to make contributions, but you can volunteer to make contributions.

To help you understand how much you are supposed to be contributing, here is some useful information regarding contributions, broken down by what system you are in:

Employees Retirement System (ERS)

  • Most ERS Tier 1 and 2 members are not required to contribute, but may contribute voluntarily. ERS Tier 1 and 2 members receive an annuity based on their voluntary contribution balance in addition to their pension at retirement.
  • All ERS Tier 3 and 4 members are required to contribute 3 percent of their gross earnings until they’ve been NYSLRS members for ten years, or have ten years of service credit (whichever comes first).
  • ERS Tier 5 members are required to contribute 3 percent of their gross earnings for their entire career.
  • ERS Tier 6 members are required to contribute for their entire career a specific percentage of their earnings based on their salary.

ERS Exceptions

  • Though most ERS Tier 5 and Tier 6 members are required to contribute for all their years of service, the contributions of State Correction Officers in these tiers are limited to 30 years of service.
  • ERS Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System must contribute 4 percent of their salary for all their years of public service.

Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS)

  • Most PFRS Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, as well as PFRS Tier 3 (Article 11) members, are not required to contribute, but may contribute voluntarily.
  • PFRS Tier 3 (Article 14) members must contribute 3 percent of their gross reportable earnings for 25 years or until retirement (whichever comes first).
  • PFRS Tier 6 members are required to contribute a specific percentage of their earnings based on their salary for their entire career.

PFRS Exceptions

  • Though most PFRS Tier 5 members must contribute 3 percent of their gross reportable earnings for all their years of public service, PFRS Tier 5 members enrolled in a retirement plan limiting the amount of creditable service they may accrue will not be required to contribute once they reach the maximum amount of service allowed by their plan.
  • If a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement in effect on January 9, 2010 required an employer to offer a 20- or 25-year plan, any new employees who join while that agreement is in place will not have to contribute.