New York State needs the help of certain retirees, especially health care professionals, during the COVID-19 emergency.
Normally, most NYSLRS retirees who return to work for a public employer face an earnings limit, but that limit has been temporarily suspended by the Governor by executive order during the emergency. Pay from a public employer earned from March 27 through April 26, 2020 will not count toward a retiree’s annual earnings cap.
Under Section 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law, most NYSLRS retirees under age 65 who return to work for a public employer can earn up to $35,000 per calendar year without penalty. Once a retiree exceeds the earnings limit and continues to work, their pension benefits are suspended for the remainder of the year.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is seeking qualified health care professionals to help out during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find more information on the DOH website.
During this time of economic uncertainty, you may be considering how you can lower your NYSLRS loan payment. We understand your concerns and want to provide you with information that can help.
How to Lower Your Loan Payment
You may be able to lower your payment amount as long as you still pay the minimum amount required to repay your loan. There are two ways to request a lower loan payment:
Manage Your Loan Payment with Retirement Online Once you sign in to your account, go to the My Account Summary section and click “Manage My Loans.” You’ll be able to check your payoff balance and minimum payment (payroll deduction) amount as well as change your payment amount.
Send a Loan Payment Change Form Fill out our Loan Payment Change form (RS5521) and send it to:
NYSLRS 110 State Street Albany, NY 12244
NYSLRS Loan Payments are Set by Law
Loan payments must be paid:
At least quarterly (NYSLRS will calculate your minimum payment when you take a loan); and
In a sufficient enough amount to repay the loan within five years from the date it was issued.
These are requirements established by both NYS Retirement & Social Security Law (RSSL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you are on payroll, your loan will be repaid through payroll deductions.
Can Loan Payments be Deferred?
In certain instances, you may be eligible for a deferment of your loan payment.
If you are on an authorized leave of absence with your employer, the IRS allows for the suspension of loan payments for up to one year from the date your leave began or until you return to the payroll (whichever occurs first). To receive this deferment, your employer must send us a fax (518-486-9877) on their letterhead that indicates the date your leave began and when they expect it will end.
It’s important to note that if you defer your loan payments during an authorized leave of absence, your payments will need to be recalculated and increased upon your return. This will ensure your loan will be paid off within the five-year period.
Active military personnel may also be able to defer their loan payments. The five-year repayment period for these members can be extended, however your loan balance will continue to accrue interest and you must resume payments once you end active duty. Visit our Loans page for more information.
What Happens If You Go Off Payroll?
If you go off payroll, to avoid your loan going into default, you must make minimum payments at least quarterly and repay the loan within five years. To avoid a default, contact us as soon as you leave public employment, so we can tell you the exact amount you need to pay. If you are in danger of defaulting on your loan, we will notify you. Retirement Online is the easiest way to make loan payments if you are off payroll. Read the Make Lump Sum Payments information on our Loans page for details.
The unfortunate reality of the COVID-19 emergency is that some NYSLRS members may become seriously ill and some may die from the disease. That is why it is vitally important that members understand how to apply for retirement benefits, if they need to take that step.
NYSLRS members who become seriously ill from COVID-19 may wish to file for a disability retirement benefit so their beneficiary may be eligible for a continuing pension, rather than a one-time in-service death benefit, if the member dies.
or their employer on their behalf, need to file the disability
retirement application that is appropriate for them according to their
Please visit our Disability Benefits page and select “Find Your Application” to help you find the right application. Additionally, the member, or the member’s spouse, should file a pension payment option election form to identify a beneficiary to receive the continuing benefit. An option election form cannot be filed by the employer. A continuing benefit cannot be paid to a beneficiary unless we receive an option election form.
Applications and option election forms can be emailed directly to NYSLRS’ Disability Processing Unit. If the member dies after applying, the disability retirement application would be effective upon death. If the member recovers, he or she would be allowed to withdraw the disability retirement application.
Eligible members may also file for a service retirement. However, a service retirement must be on file with NYSLRS at least 15 days before your retirement date, and a service retirement cannot be canceled if your retirement date has passed. You can file a disability and a service retirement application at the same time. Service retirements can be filed electronically using Retirement Online.
Please call our Contact Center at 866-805-0990 if
you have questions.
You probably have a lot on your mind right now, but one thing you don’t need to worry about is your NYSLRS pension. Despite the turmoil in the financial markets, your retirement benefits are secure.
want to assure the more than one million men and women who rely on the State
pension fund for retirement security that we are well-positioned to weather the
ongoing volatility,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “To
our retirees, your pensions are safe and we will continue to pay your benefits
The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds and invests NYSLRS assets, has long been recognized as one of best managed and best funded public pension plans in the nation. The strength of the Fund puts NYSLRS in a good position as we navigate through the current economic turmoil.
Fund’s professional managers take a conservative approach to investing and
focus on sustained, long-term results. This approach allows the Fund to capitalize
on investment opportunities in good times and cushions it against market ups
and downs. In recent months, as they recognized increased volatility in the
market, Fund managers began making adjustments to the Fund’s investment
portfolio to prepare for an expected downturn in the economy. They are actively
managing the Fund through these difficult times and are confident the markets
will ultimately recover.
To protect the health of our members and employees, our NYSLRS consultation site offices are closed until at least March 30, 2020. The best method for customers who wish to submit documents and conduct business with us is through Retirement Online. There you can complete an estimate, update your information, and even file for retirement.
with previously scheduled appointments are being contacted and offered phone
consultations. If you would like to schedule a phone consultation, or have
retirement-related questions, you can contact us at 1-866-805-0990
(518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area) or email us using our secure
Our NYSLRS’ essential staff continue to do Retirement System
work. We are processing mail and applications, answering phone calls and
responding to emails during this time.
What Can You Do in Retirement Online?
Retirement Online gives you an easy and secure way to
review your NYSLRS benefit information and conduct transactions in real time. In
many cases, you can use Retirement Online instead of sending forms
through the mail or calling NYSLRS. Here’s a quick look at some of its
Update Contact Information Do you have a new mailing address, email address or phone number? Make sure NYSLRS can get in touch with you by updating your contact information.
Update Your Beneficiary Information You can designate beneficiaries for your death benefits, and also make updates to existing beneficiaries.
Create a Pension Verification Letter or Mortgage Letter If you’re a retiree and need to provide proof of your retirement income, you can generate and print an income verification letter from your account. If you’re a member and need to verify your retirement account information, you can generate and print a mortgage letter when you need it.
Update Your Last Name If you changed your last name recently, you can change it online instead of submitting a Name Change form.
Change Your Correspondence Preference Would you prefer to receive emails from NYSLRS instead of mail? You can update your correspondence preference and receive an email notification from NYSLRS whenever we have updated information to send you. (Please note that some information, such as tax forms, will be sent by mail for security purposes.)
Estimate Your Pension (Members Only) You can estimate your pension benefit based on up-to-date account information, then save or print the estimate for your records.
Manage Loan and Service Credit Payments (Members Only) Need to pay back a loan or purchase service credit? You can adjust your payment amount or make a lump sum payment.
Apply for Retirement Ready to retire? You can file your service retirement application right from home.
Apply for a Loan (Members Only) Eligible members can apply online to take a loan out against their NYSLRS contributions.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted our daily lives in ways large and small. As New York and the rest of the nation work on treatment and containment of this virus, many New Yorkers are concerned about what the future will bring.
The New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) wants to assure retirees and members who rely on the state pension fund for fiscal security that it is well positioned to weather the volatility in the financial markets. Your retirement benefits are secure and you will continue to receive your pension payments.
Retirees: Please Sign Up for Direct Deposit
As NYSLRS closely monitors the public health measures being taken to prevent the community transmission of the coronavirus, there are circumstances that could arise that impact the delivery of pension checks, particularly the ability of retirees to go to the bank to deposit them.
NYSLRS strongly urges retirees to consider signing up for direct deposit, instead of receiving a monthly pension by check via mail delivery. The vast majority of our retirees have their retirement and Social Security benefits deposited directly into their checking or savings account. Direct deposit is quick and safe. To enroll in direct deposit, complete the Electronic Funds Transfer Direct Deposit Enrollment Application (RS6370).
In late January, NYSLRS mailed tax information to retirees (and some members and beneficiaries) so they can file their taxes.
NYSLRS pensions are not subject to New York State or local income taxes, but in most cases they are subject to federal taxes. In January, we mailed 1099-R tax forms to almost 500,000 retirees who receive taxable benefits. We also mailed 1099-Rs to beneficiaries who received taxable income from NYSLRS in 2019, members who have taken taxable NYSLRS loans or have defaulted on their loans, and those who ended their membership and withdrew their contributions in 2019.
A 1099-R shows:
The total benefit paid to you in a calendar year.
The taxable amount of your benefit.
The amount of taxes withheld from your benefit.
If you didn’t get your 1099-R, you can request a reprint. This year, reprints will be available for calendar years 2017, 2018 and 2019. Your 1099-R will be mailed to the address we have on file for you. Sign in to Retirement Online to check or update your mailing address before requesting a reprint.
If you have questions about the information on the form, we feature an interactive 1099-R tutorial on our website. It walks you through a sample 1099-R and offers a short explanation of specific boxes on the form.
Changing Your Federal Tax Withholdings
If you need to make changes to your federal withholding, you can send us a W-4P form at any time. You can use this form to change your withholding status, increase or decrease the number of your exemptions, or request that an additional amount be withheld.
Please note: If you change your withholding, it may take a few months before the changes are reflected in your pension payments. You can look up your current payment breakdown, including tax withholding, using Retirement Online.
Federal tax withholding and other deductions taken from your pension, such as union dues.
Health insurance premiums. (NYSLRS doesn’t administer health insurance benefits, but we deduct retiree premiums at the request of your former employer.)
Not a Tax Document
While your Retiree Annual Statement includes information about your benefit payments and tax withholding, it is not a tax document and should not be used for filing your federal income tax return. NYSLRS mailed 1099-R tax forms to retirees and beneficiaries in January.
If you need a reprint of your 2019 1099-R to file your taxes, you can order one online. Reprints will be mailed to the address we have on file for you, so if you’ve moved recently, you should check to make sure your contact information is up to date before requesting a reprint. The fastest way to check and update your address is with Retirement Online. From your account homepage, you can also let us know how you would like to receive information from NYSLRS by choosing your correspondence preference.
News & Notes, our semiannual newsletter, will be included with your Retiree Annual Statement. The newsletter will help you keep up with the latest news about NYSLRS and other topics of interest.
Your Statement provides a snapshot of your NYSLRS account as of December 31, 2019, but you can get up-to-date information by signing in to Retirement Online. If you don’t already have an account, you can learn more or register today.
NOTE: when there is a change in your net benefit amount, NYSLRS will notify you by mail or email.
Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s efforts to prevent and stop pension fraud help protect the integrity of NYSLRS and the retirement security of its members and beneficiaries.
The Comptroller’s Office works with law enforcement and local prosecutors to help root out pension fraud. Over the last several years, these investigations have led to dozens of arrests and the recovery of millions of dollars.
Recent Pension Fraud Cases
A Dutchess County woman failed to notify
NYSLRS about her mother’s death and continued to collect her mother’s pension checks. She collected nearly $42,000 before she was
caught, and pleaded guilty to petit larceny in July 2019. She was sentenced to
three years’ probation and has agreed to pay full restitution.
A Westchester County woman kept her deceased mother’s deposited pension
checks and spent the money on personal
expenses, including cellphone and utility bills. The amount she stole from the
retirement system totaled $60,288. She pleaded guilty to a felony grand larceny
charge and was sentenced to five years’ probation. She also paid back $22,000,
part of her requirement to make full restitution.
Comptroller DiNapoli is also committed to fighting public corruption in state and local government. He partners
with law enforcement to bring corrupt officials to justice and recoup stolen
Since he took office in 2007, DiNapoli’s anti-corruption
initiatives have resulted in more than 200 arrests and the recovery of $60
million in taxpayer money.
How You Can Help
The Comptroller encourages the public to report allegations of wrongdoing by:
Calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555;
As an Employees’ Retirement
System (ERS) Tier 6 member, your years of service are critical to your
benefits. As time goes by, and you earn service credit, you’ll reach a number
of career milestones. These milestones are points where you become eligible for
certain benefits or your existing benefits improve. Understanding these milestones
will help you better plan your career and retirement.
In ERS Tier 6, you reach your first milestone on your first day of membership. This milestone covers you for certain job-related death and disability benefits. (You can learn more about them in your Tier 6 retirement plan booklet.)
10 & 20 Years Make a Big Difference
For all NYSLRS members, there is one critical milestone: becoming vested. Being vested means that you have earned the right to a pension, even if you leave public employment before retirement age. ERS Tier 6 members become vested after they earn 10 years of service credit.
For most ERS Tier 6 members, another big milestone is the 20-year mark, when your retirement benefit improves significantly. If you retire with less than 20 years of service, you earn 1.66 percent of your final average salary (FAS) for each year of service. At 20 years, you receive 35% of your FAS. After 20 years, you’ll earn an additional 2 percent of your FAS for each year of service beyond 20.
ERS Tier 6 Special Plans
For ERS Tier 6 members in special plans, such as corrections officers, many of the milestones are the same. For example, you will become vested with 10 years of service credit.
But there are also major differences. Most importantly, correction officers in the special 25-year plan can retire after 25 years regardless of age. You can find more information in your retirement plan booklet.