NYSLRS Basics: When Can You Retire?

There are core elements behind each NYSLRS retirement plan that every member should know. Knowing your retirement plan details like what your pension payment options are and how your final average salary (FAS) works is essential. Learning these NYSLRS Basics can give you a good foundation of information and help you prepare for retirement.

When Can I Retire?

This is a popular question we hear from members. Because of the large number of retirement plans we manage, there isn’t one single answer to this question, but we do have answers.

If you’re in a regular retirement plan (the vast majority of members are in regular plans), you can retire any time on or after your 55th birthday. However, some service credit requirements do apply:

  • Tier 1 members, depending on their plan, may need two or five years of service credit if they recently changed employers
  • Tier 2, 3, or 4 members need five or more years of service credit
  • Tier 5 and 6 members need ten or more years of service credit

Note: service credit is defined as the credit you receive for your paid public employment with a NYSLRS participating employer.

If you’re in a special retirement plan (most police officers, firefighters, sheriffs and correction officers are in special plans), you can retire at any age as long as you’ve met the service credit requirement for that plan. Special plan members can retire once they reach 20 or 25 years of service credit, whichever their plan requires.

Retiring at Age 55 vs. Full Retirement Age

Keep in mind that even though you could retire as early as 55, you may receive a benefit reduction* for not waiting until the full retirement age. (Visit our Early Age Reduction page to see the reductions for your tier.) Under NYSLRS regular retirement plans, you can retire with no reduction once you reach your full retirement age.Full_Benefit_Retirement_Age

It’s important to know that if you decide to retire with a reduced benefit, the reduction is permanent – it doesn’t end once you reach your full retirement age. Keep this in mind once you start preparing for retirement.

Knowing what your full retirement age is and when you’re first eligible to retire is just one part of the NYSLRS Basics series. Look out for a future post on retirement option selection.

*There are some exceptions: Tier 1 members can retire at age 55 without a benefit reduction; ERS Tier 2, 3 & 4 members and Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System can retire at age 55 with 30 or more years of service credit without a benefit reduction.

10 thoughts on “NYSLRS Basics: When Can You Retire?

  1. Denise

    Good Morning,

    I will have 30 years of service credit with my employer of July 1, 2016. My question is can I retire any day after July 1, 2016?

    1. NYSLRS

      Assuming you’re in a regular retirement plan, you can apply for retirement any time after you reach age 55. Once you have 30 years of service credit before you reach the age of 62, you can retire without a benefit reduction. You should confirm the date you’ll have 30 years of service credit by submitting a Request for Estimate form (RS6030). On the form, explain that you want an estimate based on the date you will have 30 years of service credit.

  2. Jose

    I will have 30 years of service credit as a NYS Corrections Officer (Tier 3) in 2019, however, I will be 51 years old. Will I be able to retire without a benefit reduction or will I have to wait until I turn 55 years old to retire? Are there any benefits if I continue to work longer than age 55?

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Assuming you are covered under the Article 14 Corrections Officer plan, with 25 years of creditable Corrections service, you may retire at any age with full benefits (one-half of your final average salary [FAS]).

      If you retire between the ages of 55 and 62 (between 55 and 63 for Tier 6 members) with more than 25 years of service, you will receive the better benefit provided by either:

      • One-half of your FAS; or
      • 2 percent of your FAS for each year of service (maximum of 30 years), less a reduction for retiring before age 62 (age 63 for Tier 6 members)
  3. Cindy affinati

    Does any sick time accrued add to your service credit length? If I will have 30 years in August and I have three months’ worth of sick leave credit, can I retire in May and still effectively have 30 years’ credit?

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If your employer provides the sick leave benefit (Section 41(j) of the Retirement and Social Security Law), you may receive additional service credit for your unused, unpaid sick leave at retirement. However, you cannot use this additional credit to qualify for better retirement benefit calculation or reach a milestone. If you are a Tier 2, 3, or 4 member retiring before age 62 and need 30 years of service credit to retire without a benefit reduction, you would need to earn the 30 years of service first. Then, if your employer offers the sick leave benefit, you can receive the additional time toward your retirement benefit calculation.

        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Tier 4 members can use up to 30 days of vacation pay towards their FAS calculation as long as their last three consecutive years are the highest. There are limitations though. For Tier 4 members, each year of your FAS cannot be more than 10% higher than the average of the previous two years. Any earnings above the limit will not be used in your pension calculation.

          For more information, or information about other tiers, please visit our Final Average Salary page or find your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page.

  4. bruce goldberg

    I would like to retire when I am 62 at the end of april 2017 I believe I will be a couple months short of 25 yrs service at that time. I,m tier 2, Would I receive full benefits or do I need to wait till ii have 25 yrs. thanks

    1. NYSLRS

      For most retirement plans, there is no early age reduction if you retire when you reach age 62. But, in order to get you the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form, and one of our representatives can review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      You can also read more about your plan on our publications page.


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