Tag Archives: pension payment option

Choosing Your Pension Payment Option

When you retire from NYSLRS, you’ll need to decide how you want to receive your pension benefit.

You’ll have several options. All of them provide a monthly benefit for life. Some also provide a limited benefit for one or more beneficiaries after you die. Others let you pass on a monthly lifetime pension to a single beneficiary. Each option pays a different amount, depending on your age at retirement, your beneficiary’s age and other factors.

Pension Payment Option

That’s a lot to think about, so let’s make this clearer with an example. Meet Jane. Jane plans to retire at age 60, and she has a husband, a granddaughter and a grandson who are financially dependent on her. First, Jane needs to decide whether she wants to leave a benefit to someone after she dies. She does.

That eliminates the Single-Life Allowance option. While it pays the highest monthly benefit, all payments stop when you die.

Jane considers naming her grandchildren as beneficiaries to help pay for their college education.

The Five Year Certain and Ten Year Certain options don’t reduce her pension much, and they allow her to name more than one beneficiary. If Jane dies within five or ten years of retirement, her grandkids would split her normal benefit amount for the rest of that period.

However, the Five and Ten Year options wouldn’t be lifetime benefits. Since her husband doesn’t have his own pension, she’ll leave him her pension and look into a tax-deferred college savings plan for her grandkids instead.

There are a few options that leave a lifetime benefit:

The Joint Allowance — Full and Joint Allowance — Half options continue paying all or half of the retiree’s normal benefit amount to the beneficiary for life.

The Pop-Up/Joint Allowance — Full and Pop-Up/Joint Allowance — Half options also continue the retiree’s normal benefit. They reduce the pension a little more, but they have an advantage: If a retiree outlives his or her beneficiary, the retiree’s monthly payment will “pop up” to the maximum payable under the Single-Life Allowance option.

As you plan for your own retirement, you may also want to consider questions, like:

  • Do you qualify for a death benefit?
  • Do you have life insurance?
  • Do you have a mortgage or unpaid loans that will have to be paid if you die?

These and other factors can significantly impact your retirement planning.

To find out more about pension payment options, check your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page. You can also try our Benefit Calculator, which allows most members to estimate their benefits under the different payment options. For tips on developing a financial strategy that works for you, take a look through Straight Talk about Financial Planning for Your Retirement.

NYSLRS’ Partial Lump Sum Payments

When you retire, you’ll choose a payment option for your monthly lifetime benefit. Eligible NYSLRS members may also choose to receive a partial lump sum payment. The payment, which you’ll receive when we finish calculating your pension benefit, is a percentage of the actuarial value of your retirement benefit at the time you retire. By accepting this one-time lump sum payment, your lifetime monthly benefit will be permanently reduced.

Who is Eligible for the Partial Lump Sum Payment?

If you’re a Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) member covered by a special 20- or 25-year plan, you may be eligible to choose this payment. Certain Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members (sheriffs, undersheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and county correction officers) are eligible if their employer offers this benefit. (Read the other eligibility requirements for PFRS members and ERS members.)

Partial Lump Sum PaymentsHow the Partial Lump Sum Payment Works

The percentage amounts you can choose from depend on how long you’ve been eligible to retire. You can choose a lump sum payment that equals 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 percent of the value of your retirement benefit.

The payment can be made directly to you, or you can also have it paid in a direct rollover to an Individual Retirement Annuity or other plan that accepts rollovers. Before you decide, you may want to speak with a tax advisor to see if the partial lump sum payment is right for you. Certain partial lump sum distributions could be subject to federal income tax.

How Do I Choose the Partial Lump Sum?

If you’re eligible for the partial lump sum, we’ll send you a special option election form when you file for retirement. You can use this form to choose both the partial lump sum and the payment option you want for your continuing lifetime monthly benefit.

Please read Partial Lump Sum (PLS) Payment at Retirement – For Eligible Retirement System Members for more information.

Planning Around Your Retirement Date

Retirement is a big decision, and one important factor to plan for is the day you choose to retire. When you’re eligible and ready to retire, you can select any day as your retirement date. You can even choose a weekend or a holiday. Generally, your retirement date is the first day you don’t work. It could also be the first day you don’t get paid by your employer (for example, if you use accruals before your retirement date).

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your retirement date is when you’ll receive your first benefit payment. Once we receive your retirement application, we begin the process of gathering service and salary information from your employer to come up with your final benefit amount. Most retirees are eligible to receive partial monthly pension payments while we work on calculating their final benefits.

Planning for your Retirement Date

Partial Payments

We base your partial payments on your most recent NYSLRS retirement estimate. These monthly payments provide 90 to 95 percent of what your final pension benefit amount is estimated to be. You’ll continue to receive partial payments until we finalize your benefit. Partial payments are mailed to the address we have on file for you.

This is where your retirement date comes in. The month you retire determines when partial payments will start, not the day. If you retire in March and are eligible to receive partial payments, your first partial payment would be mailed on the first business day of May. It doesn’t matter if your retirement date is March 1 or March 31: your payment will go out on the first business day of May. You can enroll in our Direct Deposit Program at the same time you file for retirement. As soon as we are able to, your payments will be directly deposited into your account.

Keep this in mind before you settle on a date. You may need to set some money aside, as it could be five to eight weeks before your first partial payment arrives. Many retirees retire on the last day of a pay period (so final payment information is available from their employer sooner) toward the end of the month to minimize the number of weeks before they receive their first partial payment.

Filing for Retirement

Once you have a day in mind, when should you apply for retirement? You must file your retirement application with us 15 to 90 days before your retirement date. If you’re over age 70 at retirement, or if you are no longer actively employed by a public employer, you don’t have to wait the 15 days. The application is also available from your employer or can be found on our website by clicking the link above.

Would you like to read more about applying for retirement and what comes after? Read the Applying for Your Service Retirement Benefit and After You Retire sections in these publications:

You may also want to visit one of our consultation sites.

NYSLRS Basics: Understanding Your Final Average Salary

As a NYSLRS member, you have a defined benefit pension plan. With a defined benefit plan, you’ll receive a lifetime pension benefit based on a formula set by law that uses service credit and final average salary as part of the pension calculation. You’re probably familiar with service credit – it’s the years of service you earn while working with a participating employer. But what is a final average salary?

When we calculate your pension, we look at a specific set of years when your earnings were highest. We take the average of these earnings to create your final average salary. For most members, your final average salary is based on the years just before you retire. However, the years of earnings we use to calculate your final average salary may not match up to a calendar year or the New York fiscal year. For the purposes of calculating your final average salary, each “year” represents earnings during a time that equals one full-time year of service credit.

Types of Final Average Salary

Your tier and plan determines how we calculate your final average salary:NYSLRS Basics: Understanding your Final Average Salary

  • Three-Year Final Average Salary: for all members in Tier 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
  • Five-Year Final Average Salary: for all members in Tier 6.
  • One-Year Final Average Salary: only for members in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). This benefit must be adopted by your employer. It’s not available to PFRS members covered by Article 14 and generally not available to PFRS Tier 6 members.

Find out more about how the final average salary is calculated and the limits for each membership tier on our website.

Want to read more NYSLRS Basics? Check out our posts on when you can retire and choosing your pension payment option.

NYSLRS Basics: Pension Payment Options

When you retire, you need to decide how we’ll pay out your retirement benefit. You do that by choosing a pension payment option. Each payment option provides you with a monthly benefit for life. Nine of our payment options let you receive a smaller benefit so you can provide for a beneficiary when you die. There is also an option that pays you the largest amount of your benefit, but pays nothing to a beneficiary.

Read the full descriptions of our payment options on our website.

Payment options

Filing Your Option Election Form

When you’ve decided which payment option you’d like, you need to file an option election form. You must file before the first day of the month following your retirement date. If you file on time, you have 30 days before you receive your first benefit payment to change your payment option. If you miss this deadline, we’re required by law to process your benefit based on the basic retirement benefit listed in your plan. (The Single Life Allowance (Option 0) is the basic retirement benefit for some plans, while the Cash Refund — Contributions (Option ½) is the basic retirement benefit for others. Check your retirement plan publication to see what your options are.)

What To Consider When Choosing A Payment Option

Choosing your payment option is a big decision. Once the 30-day deadline has passed, you can’t change your payment option. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want a payment made to one or more beneficiaries after your death?
  • Do you know about your beneficiary’s future income in retirement? Will your beneficiary receive their own pension? How much will they receive from Social Security benefits or other retirement savings accounts?
  • Do you have life insurance coverage? Life insurance payments could help your beneficiary make ends meet.
  • What are your financial obligations? Will your beneficiary have enough income to cover expenses if you die?

The answers to these questions can help you decide which option meets your needs. If you have any questions, email us from our website.

Would you like to read more NYSLRS Basics posts? Check out our earlier post on when you can retire.

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.

Preparing for Retirement: Part Seven — Choosing Your Retirement Option

After many months of retirement planning, finally filing your retirement application is a major milestone. But your retirement process isn’t finished yet – you still need to choose your NYSLRS retirement option. When choosing your retirement option, it’s important to think about what your needs will be in retirement so you can pick how you’d like your monthly pension benefit paid to you.

Retirement Planning — Choosing Your NYSLRS Retirement Option

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 Seven – Choosing Your Retirement Option, you’ll go over what an option election is and how you can learn more about them before making your decision.

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 complete, you can always review previous retirement planning videos like:

When You’re Retired

Our website has many resources to help you prepare for retirement, but don’t forget to check back with us after you retire. Our Retiree home page can keep you informed about pension payments, tax information and other relevant retiree news. Make sure to check it out.

Choosing the Option of How Your Pension Will Be Paid

When It Comes to Retirement, This Could Be One of The Most Important Financial Decisions You’ll Make

Getting ready to retire? If you are a New York State & Local Retirement System member (NYSLRS), one of the most important things you’ll do is to decide how your retirement benefit will be paid. You do that by choosing a pension payment option.

Choose the Pension Payment Option That Will Best Meet Your Needs

There are several options from which to choose and all of them provide you with a monthly benefit for life. You may elect to have your retirement benefit paid to you as a Single Life Allowance (Option 0). This will provide you with the maximum amount payable during your lifetime, with nothing payable to your beneficiaries upon death. Or, you may elect to receive a smaller monthly benefit to provide for a possible payment to a designated beneficiary after your death.

Since choosing an option is not a decision to be made lightly, you may want to consider the following:

Does your beneficiary have other income?

Is your beneficiary receiving his or her own pension? How much Social Security benefits does he or she get? Does your beneficiary have an Individual Retirement Account or a Deferred Compensation Plan?

Do you have life insurance coverage?

Remember to factor in payments from any life insurance you may have. They can help your beneficiary make ends meet.

What are your financial obligations?

List the monthly expenses your beneficiary might have if you die. Is there a mortgage payment, car loan, other loans or obligations? Excluding your pension, will your beneficiary’s income be enough to cover all the expenses?

Answering these three questions will help you determine which option best meets your needs. You may want to consult your retirement plan booklet to help you with your choice. You may also want to consult with a financial advisor before making your option selection.

One Other Important Thing to Remember…

You must file your Option Election Form before the first day of the month following your retirement date. Though you have up to 30 days after your pension benefit becomes payable to change your selection, once the deadline has passed, you cannot change your option.

(If you are a disability retiree, you may change your option selection up to 30 days after your disability application is approved, or up to 30 days after your retirement date, whichever is later.)