Becoming Vested

Becoming vested is a crucial milestone in your NYSLRS membership.

You become vested after you earn enough years of service credit. Once you’re vested, you have earned the right to receive a retirement benefit, even if you leave public employment before retirement.

New Legislation Changes Vesting Requirements for Tier 5 and 6 Members

As of April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested. This affects members of both the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Previously, Tier 5 and 6 members needed 10 years of service to be eligible for a service retirement benefit (the new legislation does not change eligibility for disability retirement benefits that are established by your retirement plan).

Becoming Vested - New Legislation Changes Requirements for Tier 5 and 6 Members

You can sign in to your Retirement Online account to view your total estimated service credit. Over the next few months, we will update members’ accounts to reflect any changes to vesting status as a result of these new vesting requirements. If your total estimated service credit in Retirement Online is more than five years, rest assured, you are considered vested and your vesting status will be changed to “Yes.” This will be done by NYSLRS and there is no need to contact us.

In addition, we are working to update the pension estimate tool in Retirement Online. Until vesting status updates are made to the tool, pension estimates produced in Retirement Online will not accurately reflect the vesting status of members impacted by the new legislation.

Effective immediately, if you are a Tier 5 or 6 member with five or more years of service and you meet the minimum age requirements for your retirement plan, you can apply for a service retirement benefit if you wish. We are updating our online services to enable Tier 5 and 6 members to apply for retirement through Retirement Online. In the meantime, you may file for retirement using our paper application. If you have between five and 10 years of service credit and you have questions about filing for retirement, please contact us.

This legislation did not change Tier 5 or 6 benefit rules such as how long you must contribute, your pension benefit calculation, your full retirement age, reductions to retire early or the cost to purchase previous service. However, additional new legislation may affect contribution rates for some Tier 6 members. Information about this legislation will be posted on our blog when it becomes available.

Tier 5 and 6 members who left public employment with five or more years of service and did not withdraw their membership are now considered to be vested.

Tier 5 and 6 members who leave public employment with more than five years of service but less than 10 years, as of April 9, 2022, now have the option to either apply for a retirement benefit once you reach retirement age or withdraw your contributions. You cannot withdraw your contributions once you have 10 years of service. As a reminder, once you withdraw your contributions, you end your membership with NYSLRS and are no longer eligible for a retirement benefit.

If you were a Tier 5 or 6 member and have been off the payroll for more than seven years prior to April 9, 2022, your membership is considered withdrawn and terminated. You would need to return to payroll and reinstate your withdrawn membership in order to be eligible for five-year vesting.

All Members — When Will I Be Vested?

NYSLRS members in Tier 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 need five years of service credit to be vested.

If you work part-time, it will take you longer to become vested. For example, if you work half-time, you earn six months of credit toward vesting for each year on the job.

If you purchase credit for previous service or military service, that credit can be used toward vesting.

What You Need to Do

Vesting is automatic. You do not need to file any paperwork to become vested. To find out if you’re vested, you can sign in to your Retirement Online account and find your total estimated service credit in the ‘My Account Summary’ section. Again, if your total estimated service credit in Retirement Online is listed as more than five years, you are considered vested.

Vested members will need to apply for a service retirement benefit in order to receive a pension. Applications must be submitted within 15 – 90 days before the date you wish to retire (you must be eligible to retire on the date you choose).

Most NYSLRS members are eligible to collect a pension as early as age 55, but, depending on your tier and retirement plan, benefits may be reduced if you retire before your full retirement age.

You can estimate your pension benefit based on the salary and service information we have on file for you. From your Retirement Online account, under ‘My Account Summary’ click “Estimate my Pension Benefit.”

120 thoughts on “Becoming Vested

  1. Francine Scollo

    9/26/2022-Upon becoming Vested 5 yrs. or a few more years. It would be nice if some type of Insurance benefits would be in conjunction as well. Something, maybe even at a discount rate! Please consider this as well. I thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      NYSLRS does not administer health benefits. For questions about post-retirement coverage, please contact your employer’s health benefits administrator.

      Reply
  2. Barb Marsh

    Anyone reading this article who is a newly vested Tier 5 or 6 member with 5 to 10 years of service credit and is now considering retirement before earning 10 years of service credit should also understand that being vested in the NYSLRS is NOT the same as being vested and eligible for Health Care Benefits under NYSHIP (New York State Health Insurance Program). Because so many retirees around you retire after more than 10 years, many of us equate retirement from NYSLRS as “including” being eligible for Health Care Benefits as well. It is well worth emphasizing that NYSLRS (your state pension) and NYSHIP (Health Care benefits available to some state retirees) are two SEPARATE benefits. Although you may now be vested with NYSLRS to receive a pension, you may NOT, or NOT YET, be eligible for Health Care Benefits through NYSHIP. First of all, your employer(s) needs to be a participant in that plan, and secondly, the vesting period for NYSHIP in any case I am aware of is 10 YEARS. There are other requirements that you may need to meet in order to qualify for health care benefits or to defer earned benefits for the future. Contact your Human Resources department and/or NYSHIP to determine if you are eligible for those Health Care benefits, if it is critical to your retirement decision. NYSLRS (the pension system) does NOT track or administer your health care benefit!

    Reply
    1. Sue B.

      Thank you for pointing that out! Health coverage in retirement is a very important piece that we never seem to get information on!

      Reply
  3. Dave A.

    I entered state service late in my career and was in Tier 5. Since I knew I would not be working 10 years or more (the vesting in place when I was hired), I opted for the alternative to ERS – the Voluntary Defined Contribution Plan. I’m going into my sixth and final year of work. Now that the rules have changed, can employees change this decision since it was based on 10 year vesting. Is there an opportunity to buy back in?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The recent vesting legislation did not change Tier 5 or 6 benefit rules regarding eligibility for membership.

      Once you join the defined contribution plan, you will generally not be allowed to change Retirement Systems, unless you have a change in your employment title making you eligible for a different Retirement System for the first time and you opt to change to that System within 30 days of your eligible appointment. You can find information about the defined benefit option on the Retirement Plans page of SUNY’s website or you can call the plan administrator at 518-320-1430.

      Reply
  4. Susan Ladley

    Would you need to start over being “vested” if you changed jobs? For instance, you worked in a school district in one county but have started a new job for a totally different county office in another county…not in a school?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Generally, a NYSLRS member would retain their vesting status if they take a job with another participating public employer.

      For account-specific information about how this may apply in your situation, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  5. Robert

    I just think you all should be grateful for even getting a pension… it is rare that pensions still exist! Also if people are unhappy about what they may receive as a grade 6 when they retire, are you contributing else where? Also, If you think about it, your not paying NYS tax on your retirement though the state which is a huge bonus as well. I completely get that people are frustrated with what they might be getting at retirement, however, it is better then nothing and we should not all rely on this alone when we retire. Sounds like most of you need to see a financial planner if you are concerned about money at retirement because your are not setting yourselves up and solely relying on the NYS system.

    Reply
  6. Kera

    I have 7 years with NYCERS i recently transferred to another city agency with the same pension. Am i consider vested or do i have to work 5 years with the new agency to be vested?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The new vesting legislation applies to all public retirement systems in New York State.If you have questions about your status, please contact your employer’s human resources (personnel) office.

      Reply
  7. ARI

    So far I have 6 years so I’m vested now. My questions relates to what if I decide to leave my actual job now. My understanding was once vested you could not take your contribution toward the plans with you (take it to another pension plan). Now that I’ve been automatically vested, how does that rule work?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Tier 5 and 6 members who leave public employment with more than five years of service but less than 10 years, as of April 9, 2022, now have the option to either apply for a retirement benefit once you reach retirement age or withdraw your contributions.

      Tier 3-6 members with less than ten years of service may withdraw their mandatory contributions, plus interest, 15 or more days after leaving public employment. However, this terminates membership and these individuals become ineligible for any Retirement System benefits.

      Reply
  8. Kelly

    With this new legislation, does it change the eligibility for Retirement Disability, or do you still need to have 10 years of service? I see that in the article above “the new legislation does not change eligibility for disability retirement benefits that are established by your retirement plan”; however, when I called I was advised differently. Please confirm.

    Reply
  9. Jay

    Before entering state service I worked per diem as a substitute teacher for a public school in New York State that participated in NYSLRS. Can I purchase credit using that previous employment?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      For questions about purchasing service credit, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information. Include as much information as you can about the period of employment for which you are seeking credit, including the approximate dates you worked per diem.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Your tier is based on the date you became a NYSLRS member. If you know your membership date, you can find your tier on our What Tier Are You In? page.

      You can also find your tier in the ‘My Account Summary’ section of your Retirement Online account or by contacting our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  10. Aimee

    I am confused. I am Tier 5 (also buying back service from early 2000’s). What benefit does being vested have at 5 years if most of us are already over 10 years?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you already had more than ten years of service credit on April 9, this new legislation does not impact you. You were already vested at that time.

      Reply
  11. Denisa Kondi

    I am a Tier 6 member who left public employment in December of 2021 with 7.5 years of service. I did not withdraw my contributions. According to the news article, I would automatically become vested under this scenario, but at the same time I read that this reform is not retroactive, so I am not sure where I stand. And how could I obtain proof of vestment, not just the total years of service credit, since things may change again in the future. (I won’t retire until 2049.)

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Correct, Tier 5 and 6 members who left public employment with five or more years of service and did not withdraw their membership are now considered to be vested.

      For information about your account, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  12. nicole stanton

    I am Tier 6. My start date is 4/30/12, so I just hit my 10 years. Will I still have to pay in with these changes?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      This legislation did not change Tier 5 and 6 benefit rules such as how long you must contribute, your pension benefit calculation, your full retirement age, reductions to retire early or the cost to purchase previous service.

      Reply
  13. Wendy D'Souza

    If I work current for a local agency and move to NYS employer. Do I have to complete 10 years for tier 6 to be vested or 5 years.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      All Tier 6 members, whether they work for the State or a participating municipality, become vested when they complete five years of service. You earn service credit for your paid public employment with a participating employer while you are a NYSLRS member. If you were a member under both employers, your service credit from your State and local employment would be combined for vesting purposes.

      Reply
  14. Patti

    My brother passed away last year in March and wasn’t vested with 9+ years of service in Tier 6. His beneficiary was not entitled to his pension. Would she be entitled to it now?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, the legislation is not retroactive, and did not change Tier 5 or 6 benefit rules such as eligibility for death benefits.

      Reply
  15. Mike

    This legislation seems like it has no benefit to a large number of tier 5 members as most already have 10 years of service completed. Why does it only benefit tier 6 members?

    Reply
    1. Melinda Delazar

      I believe it would still benefit people who were Tier 5 who left the state prior to their 10 year vestment but kept their pension in the system. That is my understanding.

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS

        Tier 5 members who left public employment with at least five years of service credit and have not withdrawn their membership are now vested.

        Reply
  16. Gerald Longden

    does this new tier vesting also take in account eligible leosa coverage… If I retire with between 5 and 10 years am I still covered by leosa

    Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs. Please contact your employer’s health benefits administrator for questions about coverage.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      You can find information about transferring your ERS service credit on our Transferring or Terminating Your Membership page.

      Although transferred ERS service would count toward service credit requirements for vesting, and any disability or death benefit provided by your retirement plan, it may not be used to reach the required 20 or 25 years needed to qualify for retirement in a special plan.

      Before applying for a transfer, we recommend you speak with one of our customer service representatives to find out if a transfer would be beneficial for you. You can call them at 1-866-805-0990 or email them using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The decision on whether to adopt benefit enhancements comes from the State Legislature and the Governor. The retirement system (NYSLRS) administers legislation and programs that are signed into law. You may want to contact your state legislative representatives.

      Reply
  17. Chris

    Hi – am a Tier 6 employee with 9.9 years of service. the information provided in the article above states “This legislation did not change Tier 5 or 6 benefit rules such as how long you must contribute” If I leave state service now, and wait until I am 63 to receive benefits, what does this statement mean and how will it affect my benefit if at all?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you leave the public payroll, you will no longer be required to contribute to the Retirement System. Your NYSLRS pension would be based on your years of service credit and final average earnings, not on the amount you contributed.

      If you are considering leaving the public payroll before you are ready to retire, we suggest you speak with a customer service representative to find out how it would affect your pension benefits. You can call them at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts. You can also email our them using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      You may also wish to speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how going off payroll would affect any post-retirement health benefits you may be entitled to.

      Reply
  18. Debbie S.

    I am waiting for my application to be approved to buy back four years of service and have my tier 4 reinstated (I’m currently tier 6). I submitted my application in August 2020 and I understand, from the message on the automated system, that this process takes two years. Once my application is approved and my tier is reinstated, I will have a total of about nine years of service and, therefore,nine years of making contributions. When will I be eligible to stop making contributions and will I get a refund for any of the contributions I made beyond what was required?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      For information about your contributions, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form http://www.emailnyslrs.com. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  19. JB

    Does this apply to teachers in NYS in Tier 5 & 6 as well? I see it applies to ERS and PFRS, but what about TRS? Thank you I’m advance.

    Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          For questions about your vesting status, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form at http://www.emailnyslrs.com. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

          Reply
  20. Joan

    Will the change in vesting for Tiers 5 and 6 from 10 years to 5 years also change the service requirement for NYSHIP Health Insurance in retirement from 10 years of qualifying service to 5 at this time or in the future? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs, but we are not aware of any changes in New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) requirements.

      The New York State Department of Civil Service administers NYSHIP. You can call them at 1-800-833-4344 or 518-457-5754 or email them at pio@cs.ny.gov.

      Reply
  21. Patti C.

    I am Tier Six and now will vest at 5 years. I want to do a buy back for military service. Has the requirement to do the buy back changed? Thank you!

    Reply
  22. Larry

    As a tier 4, can I leave my employment at age 60 but defer applying for my pension until age 62 so to avoid the penalty? Or do I have to take my pension when I retire?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      You do not have to apply for your pension when you leave public employment. If you apply for retirement benefits when you have reached full retirement age (62 for Tier 4), you will not face a penalty for early retirement.

      However, leaving public payroll before you retire may affect your eligibility for certain death benefits and health benefits. If you are considering leaving public payroll before you retire, we suggest you email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      You may also wish to speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how going off payroll would affect any post-retirement health benefits you may be entitled to.

      You may find our booklet What if I Leave Public Employment? helpful.

      Reply
  23. David

    For Tier 6, the earnings in any year used in the Final Average Earnings calculation is limited by 110% of the average earnings in the previous 4 years (Kingston Cap). If a Tier 6 member only has 5 years of service, how will their Year 5, Year 4, Year 3 and Year 2 Kingston Cap earnings limit be calculated?? In this scenario, years 6 – 9 have no earnings.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      For questions about how your final average earnings calculation would be affected by the earnings limit, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    2. Frank Donovan

      What happens in that case is that they just use the five years of earnings. There are bigger issues than that. In Tier 6, the Final Average Earnings calculation is limited by 110% of the average earnings over the previous 4 years (for some reason, called the Kingston Cap). This is the most onerous provision in Tier 6 because it means that to a varying degree, my actual earnings in fact are not my pensionable earnings. Furthermore, the 110% rule overrides a different major Tier 6 provision, that my pension is equal to 1.66% of my final average salary. The 1.66% rule is believed by many to be a bedrock pension rule, yet after imposition of the Kingston Cap, I and others ultimately will not get a pension equal to 1.66% of actual final average salary. We will get much less.

      Due to getting a promotion my salary went up by 10 grand, therefore my current salary exceeds my trailing four year average salary by over 120%, so much of my raise is not pensionable. This is outrageous by itself, but it gets worse. I now have a new starting salary and top salary after three years; my employer breaks my salary into yearly increments over three years. Each increment also will exceed the 110% cap on my trailing four year average salary. This occurs because my trailing four years were lower. Therefore, due to this rule, even at ten years total employment I still will not overcome the earlier years where my salary was lower (but not vastly lower). I am not a high wage earner. Why should my earnings from 1 to 4 years ago limit my pensionable earnings today? This rule is blatantly unfair because it applies to regular earnings, salary increments and shift differentials, not just overtime. The 110% earnings cap takes away the pension benefit of regular earnings. If the State wanted to have a cap, it should have been a cap on overtime only, not on regular earnings.

      Furthermore, the effect of the 110% rule on another rule (that I get a pension equal to 1.66% per year of FAS) is monumental and is understated on the NYS Comptroller website. The rule stating that my current pensionable salary in any given year can be no more than 110% of my previous 4 year average earnings means that, ultimately I will not obtain a pension with a value equal to 1.66% per year of my actual final average salary. This is due to the limiting effect of the 110% rule. So why is the 1.66% figure given bedrock treatment on the NYS Comptroller website? Because the limiting effect of the 110% rule, 1.66% will be inaccurate for many retirees. Basically the two rules conflict but the conflict is not explained on the Comptroller website. The user himself has to read both rules to try to understand it. There should be an asterisk next to the 1.66% figure wherever it is stated on the Comptroller website, with an express statement that the retiree may not get a pension of 1.66% due to the limiting effect of the 110% rule. The comptroller also should more prominently state that the 110% rule applies to regular earnings (not just overtime, as many believe).

      The 110% limit affects many low to moderate wage employees. I understand the rational of pension cost savings, but this is to a fault. A person’s earnings should be their earnings. Apply the rule to overtime only, not to regular earnings. This rule was purposefully passed ‘under the radar’ (and is under the radar on the Comptroller website). Politically, this is how it was able to pass the legislature. Do you think that a straightforward reduction in the 1.66% pension formula would have been able to pass politically? Of course not. But they got the same result with this hard to understand 110% rule and stealthy made it apply to regular earnings.

      I did not even speak about another rule, which is the five year final average salary rule that works with the Kingston cap rule to average down your pensionable salary even more. Basically Tier 6 is set up to endlessly average down your pensionable salary and regular salary also gets averaged down. Forget the supposedly bedrock 1.66% rule. In Tier 6, many of us will not obtain a real pension of 1.66%. This is a total disgrace.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The decision on whether to adopt benefit enhancements comes from the State Legislature and the Governor. The retirement system (NYSLRS) administers legislation and programs that are signed into law.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If you are a Tier 5 or 6 member with five or more years of service and you meet the minimum age requirements for your retirement plan, you can apply to retire if you wish. But a benefit reduction would be applied if you retire before full retirement age. You can find information about benefit reductions for early retirement at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retirement/members/about-benefit-reductions.

      For questions about your vesting date, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (www.emailnyslrs.com). Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          This legislation did not change Tier 5 benefit rules such as how long you must contribute, your pension benefit calculation, your full retirement age, reductions to retire early or the cost to purchase previous service.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Laws pertaining to NYSLRS retirement benefits must be approved by both houses of the State Legislature and be signed into law by the Governor. The retirement system (NYSLRS) administers legislation and programs that are signed into law.

      Reply
  24. Peter Nagorny

    Has there been any discussion of a retirement incentive to help move the remaining Tier 4 employees out of the system ? It would seem helpful to have new Tier 6 employees move into the system now to help keep the system strong and the pension system fully funded. It would also seem very affordable right now in the State’s very strong financial position.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The New York State Legislature (not NYSLRS) occasionally enacts statewide retirement incentive programs, which must be approved by both houses and then signed into law by the Governor. The Retirement System (NYSLRS) administers programs that are signed into law.

      If a State retirement incentive program is approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, NYSLRS will notify your employer and provide details for our members on our website and on social media.

      Reply
  25. donna

    Yes, effective April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested.

    If I work 5 years and reach retirement age as a Tier 6, is my pension still calculated based on the last 60 months worked?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      This legislation did not change Tier 6 benefit rules such as your pension benefit calculation. For Tier 6 members, final average earnings (FAE) are the average of the highest five consecutive years of earnings. For most members, the highest earnings come in the last years of employment before retirement, but that is not always the case.

      For more information, please visit our Final Average Earnings page: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retirement/members/final-average-earnings.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Yes, effective April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested.

      Being vested means that you have enough years of service credit to qualify for a retirement benefit, even if you leave public employment before you are old enough to retire. Previously, Tier 5 and 6 members needed 10 years of service to be eligible for retirement benefits. We will provide additional details on our website as they become available.

      You can sign in to your Retirement Online account to view your current total estimated service credit. Over the next few months we will be updating members’ accounts to reflect any changes in vesting status.

      https://web.osc.state.ny.us/retire/sign-in.php

      Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Effective April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested. Over the next few months we will be updating members’ accounts to reflect any changes in vesting status.

          Reply
      1. Michele L Camacho

        Since it is effective April 9, 2022, I have 8.25 years. So If i wanted to leave say in May, I would be still be vested?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          As of April 9, Tier 5 and 6 members only need 5 years of service credit to be vested. Once you are vested, you are eligible to apply for a retirement benefit at age 55, even if you leave public employment before retirement age.

          If you are considering leaving public payroll before you retire, we suggest you email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com) to ask how it would affect your NYSLRS benefits. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

          You may also wish to speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how going off payroll would affect any post-retirement health benefits you may be entitled to.

          Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Yes, we will provide information about the new legislation regarding Tier 6 contribution rates on our blog when it becomes available.

          Reply
      2. Phyllis

        I have 8.48 years at tier 5, my last date of employment was 4/4/22. Would my status change to vested later? Or did I need to be physically working until 4/9/22 with NYS to qualify for vested status?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          As of April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested. Being vested means that you have enough years of service credit to qualify for a pension, even if you leave public employment before you are old enough to retire.

          For information about how this would apply in your particular situation, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form: http://www.emailnyslrs.com.

          Reply
  26. Sue

    If someone was a tier 4 member but withdrew their funds prior to being vested and came back to a job that is in the NYSRS as a tier 6, can they buy back and get reinstated to a tier 4?

    Reply
  27. nan

    I am a tier 6 and have 1 year to go to be vested. If I am terminated by the state what happens to my retirement that I have paid into for the past 9 years?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You may choose to leave your contributions on deposit with NYSLRS if you leave public employment before becoming vested. If you return to public service and your new employer participates in NYSLRS, your service and salary with your new employer would be added to your current membership. If your new employer participates in another public retirement system in New York State, you could transfer your NYSLRS membership to the new retirement system.

      Or you could choose to withdraw your mandatory contributions, plus interest, 15 or more days after leaving public employment. However, this would terminate your NYSLRS membership.

      For more information, you may find our booklet “What if I Leave Public Employment?” helpful.

      For account-specific questions, please email our customer service representatives using the secure contact form on our website. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  28. Lisa Dunbar

    I was a Tier 2 employee with the NYS Education Department from 8/22/74 to 9/5/79, and have just over five years’ vested service. Am I entitled to a pension benefit from NYSLRS?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The NYSLRS social media team does not have access to your personal account information, but we can provide general information.

      Generally, Tier 1-4 members with five years of service credit are eligible for a full pension at age 62, unless they have withdrawn their membership. You can file for a NYSLRS service retirement benefit using Retirement Online or by completing and mailing us an Application for Service Retirement (RS6037). If you mail your application, we recommend you use certified mail, return receipt requested.

      If you need assistance, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts. You can also email them using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  29. Tommy

    I am tier 6 police under fire/police retirement for SP. I have 10 years in the retirement system, being vested, I am planning to retire early to work out of state as LE.

    What is the basic formula to figure out my pay out from the retirement system? Also can I collect upon leaving immediately or do I need to reach a certain age before collecting money?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Generally, vested Tier 6 Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members who leave public employment before retirement age will be eligible for a vested retirement benefit when they reach age 63. Your vested retirement benefit is 1.66 percent of your Final Average Earnings (FAE) for each year of service credit. However, the benefit is not automatic; it is up to you to file a retirement application when you become eligible and wish to receive your benefit.

      You may wish to read our publication What If I Leave Public Employment? If you have questions about your specific situation, you can email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  30. Manny

    I am tier 5 and i have been a state employee for 9 years and 8 months. Is there a way that i can be vested early? I.e. prepay contributions etc.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      As a Tier 5 member, you must have ten years of service credit to become vested.

      You may be able to buy service credit for military service or for work you did for a public employer before you joined NYSLRS. However, you cannot receive extra service credit by prepaying contributions.

      For more information about service credit, please read our booklet Service Credit for Tiers 2 through 6.

      Reply
  31. Cody

    Do Tier 5 police have to pay into their retirement? If so, how much and how long? Where can I find information on what Tier 5 contributes?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Most Tier 5 members contribute 3 percent of their earnings throughout their careers. However, members in plans that limit creditable service to 20, 25 or 32 years no longer contribute once they reach maximum service credit.

      For more information, please check your retirement plan booklet. For information specific to your circumstances, you can email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Tier 3 members need five years of full-time service credit to become vested. Tier 6 members need ten years of service credit to become vested.

      For account-specific information, please email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives can review your account and advise you of your options. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    2. Patti

      Is that even possible? I thought once you started at a tier, you always stayed at that tier, even if you left and came back.

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS Post author

        If a member leaves public service, ends their membership then comes back, they would need to reinstate their previous membership to get their original tier back. It isn’t automatic.

        Reply
  32. John

    I am looking to retire next year, but will not be vested and will at age 66. My question is the amount of funds built up in my account will that be sent to me at one time or can I have it stay in the NYSLRS and draw down on it. Thank you for your response

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Unfortunately, the NYSLRS social media team does not have access to your personal account information, but we can provide general information.

      You must be vested to collect a NYSLRS monthly pension. Tier 5 and 6 members are vested when they have ten years of service. Members in other tiers are vested after five years.

      Tier 3-6 members with less than ten years of service may withdraw their mandatory contributions, plus interest, after leaving public service, in one lump-sum payment. Withdrawing your contributions ends your NYSLRS membership.

      To get the account-specific information, including the date that you would become vested if you continue working, please email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  33. Diane Wise-Hollenebck

    If I am not currently vested and I am no longer required to contribute, is anything being contributed on my behalf for my pension between now and when I am vested?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you are no longer contributing, then contributions are not being made directly to your retirement account. However, unlike a 401k, the pension you will receive from NYSLRS will not be based on the amount of contributions you paid into the system. NYSLRS benefits are defined benefit plans, which means that once your are eligible to retire, you will receive a lifetime benefit that will be based on your years of service and your earnings, not on the amount of contributions you paid into the system.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you want to make an appointment at one of our consultation sites, you can contact our Call Center at 1-866-805-0990 (518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area). The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

      For site hours and locations, visit our Consultation Site Offices page.

      For more information about your options as you plan for retirement, you may be interested in our Life Changes: How Do I Prepare to Retire? publication.

      You can also email your questions to our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Most NYSLRS members can return to public employment after retiring, and continue to collect their pension, though there are earnings restrictions depending on your pension benefit, tier and age.

      You may find reading our Life Changes: What If I Work After Retirement? publication helpful.

      For information about your particular situation, we recommend contacting our customer service representatives using our secure email form before you return to work. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    2. Denise

      Hi, if I am a tier 6 and vested at age 52, do I have to wait until I am 55 to retire or can I retire at 52 and receive my pension later at 55?

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS Post author

        If you choose to leave public employment before age 55, you would be able to apply for a vested retirement benefit once you turn 55. However, most Tier 6 members who retire before age 63 face pension reductions.

        Also, leaving public payroll before you are eligible to retire may affect your eligibility for certain death benefits and health benefits.

        We suggest you email our customer service representatives using our secure email form to ask how it would affect your pension benefits. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

        You may also wish to speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how going off payroll would affect any post-retirement health benefits you may be entitled to.

        Reply
        1. Frank Donovan

          Commenting on the 110% of the average earnings over the previous 4 years rule (for some reason, called the Kingston Cap). This is the most onerous provision in Tier 6 because it means that to a varying degree, my actual earnings in fact are not my pensionable earnings. Furthermore, the 110% rule overrides a different major Tier 6 provision, that my pension is equal to 1.66% of my final average salary. The 1.66% rule is believed by many to be a bedrock pension rule, yet after imposition of the Kingston Cap, I and others ultimately will not get a pension equal to 1.66% of actual final average salary. We will get much less.

          Due to getting a promotion my salary went up by 10 grand, therefore my current salary exceeds my trailing four year average salary by over 120%, so much of my raise is not pensionable. This is outrageous by itself, but it gets worse. I now have a new starting salary and top salary after three years; my employer breaks my salary into yearly increments over three years. Each increment also will exceed the 110% cap on my trailing four year average salary. This occurs because my trailing four years were lower. Therefore, due to this rule, even at ten years total employment I still will not overcome the earlier years where my salary was lower (but not vastly lower). I am not a high wage earner. Why should my earnings from 1 to 4 years ago limit my pensionable earnings today? This rule is blatantly unfair because it applies to regular earnings, salary increments and shift differentials, not just overtime. The 110% earnings cap takes away the pension benefit of regular earnings. If the State wanted to have a cap, it should have been a cap on overtime only, not on regular earnings.

          Furthermore, the effect of the 110% rule on another rule (that I get a pension equal to 1.66% per year of FAS) is monumental and is understated on the NYS Comptroller website. The rule stating that my current pensionable salary in any given year can be no more than 110% of my previous 4 year average earnings means that, ultimately I will not obtain a pension with a value equal to 1.66% per year of my actual final average salary. This is due to the limiting effect of the 110% rule. So why is the 1.66% figure given bedrock treatment on the NYS Comptroller website? Because the limiting effect of the 110% rule, 1.66% will be inaccurate for many retirees. Basically the two rules conflict but the conflict is not explained on the Comptroller website. The user himself has to read both rules to try to understand it. There should be an asterisk next to the 1.66% figure wherever it is stated on the Comptroller website, with an express statement that the retiree may not get a pension of 1.66% due to the limiting effect of the 110% rule. The comptroller also should more prominently state that the 110% rule applies to regular earnings (not just overtime, as many believe).

          The 110% limit affects many low to moderate wage employees. I understand the rational of pension cost savings, but this is to a fault. A person’s earnings should be their earnings. Apply the rule to overtime only, not to regular earnings. This rule was purposefully passed ‘under the radar’ (and is under the radar on the Comptroller website). Politically, this is how it was able to pass the legislature. Do you think that a straightforward reduction in the 1.66% pension formula would have been able to pass politically? Of course not. But they got the same result with this hard to understand 110% rule and stealthy made it apply to regular earnings.

          I did not even speak about another rule, which is the five year final average salary rule that works with the Kingston cap rule to average down your pensionable salary even more. Basically Tier 6 is set up to endlessly average down your pensionable salary and regular salary also gets averaged down. Forget the supposedly bedrock 1.66% rule. In Tier 6, many of us will not obtain a real pension of 1.66%. This is a total disgrace.

          Reply
          1. Holly

            NYS is a disgrace in general. The way they treat employees is a disgrace. The fact that new hires are making as much as vested employees is a disgrace. Working 3 shifts in a row or multiple doubles and being shamed because you didn’t volunteer for more is a disgrace. NYS doesn’t give a hoot if you get in an accident leaving work,, as long as you show up for your next shift.. nothing about NYS shows that it cares about its employees. Now they have made it impossible for DSA’s to advance because the Ira’s can’t keep workers, so they hire off the street instead of loyal employees

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