National Save For Retirement Week: The Importance Of Saving For Retirement

Most People Do Not Have Enough Money Saved for Retirement

Although there are few things certain in life, it’s good to know your New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) pension is one of them. But your pension is only one part of a good financial plan. That’s why we advocate a well-rounded approach to saving for retirement by considering Social Security and personal savings as well.

Unfortunately, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, most Americans have very little savings set aside for retirement, and many don’t know how much they’ll need later in life. In fact, about 36 percent of workers have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement. The survey also revealed that only 44 percent say they or their spouses have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need in order to live comfortably during retirement.

The findings underscore the fact that Americans need to start saving to avoid further retirement insecurity.

National Save for Retirement Week

This year’s National Save For Retirement Week is from October 19 – 25. It provides an opportunity for people to review their own personal financial situation and determine if they are on track to reach their retirement goals. National Save For Retirement Week has been held annually since 2006, when the United States Congress adopted a resolution specifically designed to elevate public knowledge about retirement savings.

Groups such as the International City Management Association (ICMA) offer educational retirement resources, including more participatory activities like today’s National Pack-a-Sack Lunch Day. According to the ICMA, you could save thousands of dollars over seven years just by bringing your own lunch to work. Check out ICMA’s Big Savings Calculator to see how you can take steps to save money for retirement just by making fewer everyday purchases.

There are several ways to save for retirement. One savings plan to consider is a deferred compensation plan.

Deferred Compensation Plans Work

A deferred compensation plan can be another source of retirement income to consider when saving for retirement. Deferred compensation is a type of plan where part of your earned income is paid back to you at a later date. The money you set aside is tax-deferred, which means you do not pay federal or State tax on it until you begin to collect it.The New York State Deferred Compensation Plan (NYSDCP) is a voluntary retirement savings plan created for New York State employees, and employees of participating employers. Participants in the NYSDCP have their contributions deducted automatically from each paycheck to their deferred compensation account. They can also choose from different investment options within the plan for their account.

If you work for a local government employer, please check with your human resources officer or benefit administrator to learn about deferred compensation plans.

Start Saving Now

The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Check out our Weekly Investment Plan to see how making a weekly investment can grow by age 65. With just a little planning and added effort on your part, you’ll have added security for your retirement years.

New AARP Study Finds More Than 25% of New York Baby Boomers Aren’t Confident They’ll Ever Retire

According to the findings of a new American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) report, 27 percent of individuals who are 50 years-of-age or older and currently working in New York State are not confident they will ever be able to retire. More than half of those surveyed say their retirement will be delayed for financial reasons, and 26 percent said they do not have any access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. What’s most alarming is that out of those confident they will retire, 60 percent said they’d be likely to leave New York after retiring.

“Retirement security is eroding day by day,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, one of the panelists at last month’s Boomer Flight Conference sponsored by AARP and City and State in Albany. “Failure to act now will only make the problem worse for the baby boomers and the generations to follow.”

Watch more of the Comptroller’s remarks from the Boomer Flight Conference.

Boomers Help Stimulate the New York Economy

AARP reported that baby boomers retired from New York’s workforce would deliver $179 billion a year to the state’s economy. According to research done by AARP and Oxford Economics, the total economic impact of New York’s 50 and older is nearly $600 billion, supporting 53 percent of the state’s jobs and 44 percent of the state taxes. But AARP also revealed that if 60% of working boomers headed out of state, they would carry with them over $105 billion annually.

New York may still have a chance at retaining the boomer population, if improvements are made. Out of those surveyed by AARP, the following said they’d be more likely to stay in New York as they age if the following areas were improved:

  • Health (77 percent)
  • Housing (70 percent)
  • Transportation (66 percent)
  • Jobs for older residents (61 percent)

“Without a long-term strategy on retirement security,” DiNapoli continued, “we risk condemning an increasing percentage of hardworking New Yorkers and Americans to poverty in their senior years.”

2014 State of the 50+ in New York State (Full report, PDF)

Firefighters Deserve A Salute Every Day

Keeping Us Safe and Sound

10/9/14 Correction to Infographic: Retired Firefighters make up 2.1% of Retired NYSLRS Members, not 1.9% as previously shown.

It’s National Fire Prevention Week (NFPW) this week and, while attention is properly focused on promoting fire prevention, we believe a tip of the cap – or helmet, if you will – should also be extended to all firefighters who are members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS).

Though volunteer firefighters are not part of the NYSLRS family, we value their contributions, their work ethic and the pride they take in safeguarding us as well.

Of the 524,427 active members in NYSLRS, 31,218 are in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Of these, more than 6,300 are active firefighters; there are also 8,900 brave men and women who are retired firefighters.

NYSLRS Membership and Firefighters

Unlike most members of the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System (ERS), who are given the option of joining the System, firefighters working for the employers who participate in PFRS must become members of NYSLRS. The milestones for PFRS members are different than they are for ERS members.

In addition, employers can choose to offer different retirement plans or optional benefits to their employees via special plans. A special plan allows for retirement after completing a specific number of years of credited service in specific job titles rather than attaining a certain age. Nearly 44 percent of all PFRS members (14,840) are enrolled in these special 20- and 25-year plans.

Firefighters are Heroes

To the members of the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs; to the county fire marshals, supervising fire marshals, fire marshals, assistant fire marshals, assistant chief fire marshals and chief fire marshals: thank you for your service to New York and its citizens. You are truly underappreciated heroes who render valuable service to us all, and for that we are grateful.

Retirement Planning – Filing for Retirement

After many months of retirement planning, it’s time to fill out your NYSLRS retirement application. Applying for retirement is easy, especially if you’ve done your research and taken the proper steps to prepare for your retirement in advance.

Preparing for Retirement: Part Six – Filing Your NYSLRS Retirement Application

The Preparing for Retirement 7-part video series discusses the main aspects of retirement planning to help NYSLRS members nearing retirement make good, informed decisions for the future. In Part Six – Filing Your NYSLRS Retirement Application – you’ll learn about the important parts of the form, and how to file your NYSLRS retirement application with the Office of the State Comptroller.

Important Links for Retirement Planning

Where to Find More Retirement Planning Information

If you are close to retirement and have more questions, consider scheduling an appointment to meet with an information representative at one of NYSLRS’ consultation sites in New York State. Even though the Preparing for Retirement video series is almost complete, you can always review previous retirement planning videos like:

The last video will take you through choosing the option of how your pension benefit will be paid to you.

Countdown To Retirement: What To Do 4-6 Months Before Your Retirement Date

There are important things you need to do in the final months leading up to your retirement date. Our Countdown to Retirement Series will help you remember what to do and when to do it.

Last month we talked about what you should do when you’re 8 months away from retirement. This post talks about preparing a post-retirement budget and researching your post-retirement health insurance coverage.

6 Months Out: Preparing a Post-Retirement Budget

In our post on requesting an NYSLRS retirement estimate, we talked about how your estimate will have an approximate amount of what your retirement benefit could be. You can use the amount from your estimate to prepare a post-retirement budget. Having a post-retirement budget helps you to decide how you want to spend your money in retirement and helps you keep your goals in focus.

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, or property and school taxes as well.

4 Months Out: Review Your Post-Retirement Health Insurance Coverage

You should also check your eligibility for post-retirement health insurance coverage, as NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs for retirees. If you work for a non-State employer, contact your health benefits administrator for information on coverage available; if you work for a State employer, you can visit the New York State Department of Civil Service website for post-retirement health insurance information.

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date is just a few months away. Check back for more Countdown to Retirement posts on what to do after you’ve filed your Application for Service Retirement form. If you have any pre-retirement questions, please contact us.

Study Finds Retiree Spending a Big Supporter Of The Economy

retirees-in-NYS_top-10-countiesA recent National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) study reveals that pension benefit payments provide important support to the economy, generating more than $943 billion in total economic activity and 6.2 million jobs in the United States.

The NIRS study reports on the national economic impacts of public and private pension plans, as well as the impact of state and local plans on a state-by-state basis. It measures the ripple effect of the pension benefit income spent by retirees in 2012 – about $228.5 billion paid to 9 million retired employees of state and local government and their beneficiaries. Retiree spending helped to support labor income, paying nearly $307 billion, and also generated $135 billion in tax revenue at the local, state and federal levels.

New York Retirees Contribute Their Fair Share

At the time of the NIRS study, NYSLRS retirees* were responsible for more than $11 billion worth of economic activity in New York State. The pension benefits they received stimulated our local economies in a number of ways:

  • NYSLRS Retirees Stayed in New York: Seventy-eight percent of NYSLRS’ 413,436 pensioners – 302,954 retirees and beneficiaries – chose to live in New York in 2012. They made up 2.7 percent of the general population, but in some areas of the State, they accounted for nearly five percent of the residents.
  • NYSLRS Retirees Paid New York Taxes: In 2012-2013, NYSLRS retirees paid $1.4 billion in real property taxes – that’s 4.6 percent of the total collected in the entire State. Additionally, NYSLRS retirees paid an estimated $488 million in state and local sales tax in 2012.
  • NYSLRS Retirees Created Jobs: NYSLRS retirees were responsible for the creation of an estimated 61,000 jobs.

Public Pensions Are A Sound Investment In Our Future

The pensions earned by public service retirees don’t just benefit those who receive them, but they pay dividends to local businesses, build strong communities and create jobs. And, as the number of retired public service employees in New York grows, we can look forward to their help in building a stronger New York.

*Read Retirees Contribute (PDF) to see the latest numbers on how NYSLRS retirees have affected the state economy.

Countdown To Retirement: What To Do 8 Months Before Your Retirement Date

There are important things you need to do in the final months leading up to your retirement date. Our Countdown to Retirement Series will help you remember what to do and when to do it.

Last month we talked about what you should do when you’re 12 months away from retirement. This post goes over what to be aware of at 8 months out, when you should start reviewing what other sources of retirement income you’ll have available besides your New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) pension.

Review Your Post-Retirement Income

There’s a good chance your pension alone will not provide you with the same level of income during retirement as you had while you were employed. This is why it’s important to review any other sources of income you may have available to you in retirement, such as:

Some experts say that you’ll need at least 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to keep your current standard of living. You also may be retired for 15 to 20 years, or longer. It’s important to have a financial plan in place in case you need extra income once you’re retired, so take some time to review what you’ll have available.

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date is less than a year away. Check back for more Countdown to Retirement posts on issues such as your eligibility for post-retirement health insurance coverage and what to do after you’ve filed your Application for Service Retirement form.If you have any pre-retirement questions, please contact us.

NYSLRS Members Contribute to the Educational Bottom Line

schoolbus-81717_640As thousands of children in New York go back to school today and tomorrow, thousands of New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) members are headed back to school as well.

Although most public school teachers and teaching assistants in the Empire State belong to either the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System or the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System, non-instructional employees, like teacher aides, bus drivers, nurses and food service personnel, are members of NYSLRS. Like teachers, these professionals can be members of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union and contribute to our children’s education too by helping to keep our students safe and healthy and assisting in classrooms. That’s why all of our NYSLRS members in the public education field should justifiably feel proud of the work they do.

And it’s not just elementary, middle-school and high school children who are influenced by these professionals. There are also 6,421 NYSLRS members in NYSUT affiliate United University Professions (UUP) – the union that represents more than 35,000 individuals on some 29 State University of New York campuses. NYSLRS members represented by UUP work as staff assistants, senior staff assistants and staff associates, among many others.

You’ll also find NYLRS members working for BOCES and New York State schools for the deaf and blind.

Where To Educate Yourself About ERS Benefits

As of March 31, 2014, NYSLRS had 524,427 active members. Perhaps you’re one of them. Our website is a good place to learn about your benefits and get information on planning for your retirement. If you’re a new member of NYSLRS, you might be interested in Benefit Information for Tier 6 Members: Frequently Asked Questions. You can also sign up for E-News, our email newsletter, for the latest retirement news. And if you have any questions, please contact us.

Retirement Planning – Divorce and Your Pension

One aspect of retirement planning some members may not consider is how a divorce may affect their retirement benefit. In New York, retirement benefits are considered marital property and can be divided between you and your ex-spouse. While some divorced couples may choose not to divide retirement benefits, it’s important to think about what you will need to do if your pension will be affected by divorce.

Preparing for Retirement: Part Five – Divorce and Your Pension

The Preparing for Retirement 7-part video series discusses the main aspects of retirement planning to help NYSLRS members nearing retirement make good, informed decisions for the future. In Part Five – Divorce and Your Pension, you’ll hear about how if you are divorced, your ex-spouse may be entitled to part of your pension. NYSLRS needs a valid domestic relations order (DRO) on file so we can have the instructions on how your pension benefits should be divided. You’ll also learn what resources NYSLRS has available to help you construct a DRO, if needed.

Important Links for Retirement Planning

Where to Find More Retirement Planning Information

If you are close to retirement and have more questions, consider scheduling an appointment to meet with an information representative at one of NYSLRS’ consultation sites in New York State. Don’t forget to check back for the rest of the Preparing for Retirement video series, which includes retirement planning topics like:

Designating a Beneficiary: An Important Planning Decision

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you are asked to designate a beneficiary. This is important because your beneficiary may be eligible to receive certain benefits if you die while still working. A beneficiary can be any person you choose – it does not have to be a family member. You can also name any organization, such as a charity or religious institution, or your estate. It’s also important to review your beneficiaries regularly to reflect your current wishes.

Types of Beneficiaries

There are two types of beneficiaries: primary and contingent.

A primary beneficiary is the person who will receive any benefit payable. You can list more than one primary beneficiary. If you do, each primary beneficiary will share the benefit equally. You can also choose different percentages for each beneficiary, as long as they total 100 percent.

Example: John Doe, 50 percent; Jane Doe, 25 percent; and Mary Doe, 25 percent.

A contingent beneficiary is a possible beneficiary who will receive the benefit only if all the primary beneficiaries die before you. Multiple contingent beneficiaries will share the benefit equally, unless you choose to divide the benefit among them differently.

How Do I Designate a Beneficiary?

Even though you designated a beneficiary when you first joined NYSLRS, you can update your beneficiaries at any time while you’re still in active service. You can submit a Designation of Beneficiary form (RS5127) to change your beneficiaries. Be sure to include the names, addresses and birth dates of all the beneficiaries you wish to designate. You can name up to four primary and four contingent beneficiaries on the form. Please contact us if you want to designate more beneficiaries, as we cannot accept attachments to the form.

Be sure to sign and date the form, and have your signature notarized. The notary must include his or her date of notary expiration and should not be designated as one of your beneficiaries. We can’t accept the form if there are any alterations, including erasures or the use of correction fluid.

Remember, submitting a new form replaces any previous beneficiaries you have chosen. The changes become effective when we receive and approve your form.

Where Can I Get More Information?

You can refer to our publication, Life Changes: Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary?,for more information about designating a beneficiary. If you have any other questions, please contact us.