Category Archives: General News

Filing for Retirement Benefits During the COVID-19 Emergency

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. 

These members, or their employer on their behalf, need to file the disability retirement application that is appropriate for them according to their retirement plan.

filing for disability retirement benefits during the COVID-19 emergency

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.

Your NYSLRS Pension is Secure

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.

“I 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 as promised.”

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.

The 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.

NYSLRS

We’re Here for You: Doing Business with NYSLRS from Home

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. 

All customers 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 contact form.

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.

Doing Business with NYSLRS from Home

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 features:  

  • 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.

If you need help with Retirement Online, please refer to our Retirement Online Tools and Tips blog post.

Other Ways to Get NYSLRS Information

Our Contact Us page contains helpful information and answers to questions you may have about your NYSLRS membership.

You can also receive NYSLRS updates by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as NYSLRS works to prevent the community transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) while continuing to do its essential work.

A Message from NYSLRS About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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.

sign up for direct deposit to avoid interruptions as a result of the coronavirus

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).

tax

Taxes and Your NYSLRS Pension

Tax season is here again.

In late January, NYSLRS mailed tax information to retirees (and some members and beneficiaries) so they can file their taxes.

1099-Rs

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.

tax info - 1099-R tutorial

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.

You can use our federal tax withholding calculator to see how these changes would affect your withholding.

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.

DiNapoli Continues to Fight Against Pension Fraud

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.

DiNapoli Continues to Fight Against Pension Fraud

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.
  • Two Westchester County sisters are accused of concealing their mother’s death to collect nearly $22,000 of her retirement benefits from 2013 to 2015. They’re charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony.

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 taxpayer money.

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;
  • Filing a complaint online; or
  • Mailing a complaint form to:
    Office of the State Comptroller
    Division of Investigations, 8th Floor
    110 State Street
    Albany, NY 12236.

ERS Tier 6

ERS Tier 6 Member Milestones

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.)

ERS Tier 6

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.

Do We Have Your Correct Contact Information?

When was the last time you updated your contact information with NYSLRS? If you don’t remember updating it recently, make sure we have the correct ways to contact you. (Even if you updated your contact information with your employer, that doesn’t update it with NYSLRS.) We want to make sure you continue to receive important information about your NYSLRS benefits.

Please share this post with friends, family or coworkers who are NYSLRS members so they can also check their contact information.

Use Retirement Online to Change Your Contact Information

The fastest way to check and change your contact information is through Retirement Online. When you sign in to your Retirement Online account, click on ‘Update’ next to your home address or email address.  

If you have trouble signing in to your account, please read our Retirement Online Tools and Tips blog post for help.

If you don’t have a Retirement Online account, it’s easy to create one. Visit our Retirement Online for Members page and click ‘Register Now’ under the Sign In button. When you create your account, you’ll be asked to provide the ZIP code of your home address. If it doesn’t recognize your current ZIP code, it’s likely we have an older address on file for you. Please use the older ZIP code to create your account — you can update your address afterward.

contact information

Mail or Email? Pick Your Delivery Preference

You can receive correspondence from us by mail or email by selecting your delivery preference in Retirement Online. If you choose ‘Email,’ you’ll receive an email notifying you to log in to Retirement Online to read new correspondence that we sent you. If you choose ‘Mail’ or don’t select a preference, we’ll continue to send you letters through the US Postal Service. Email is the fastest way to receive an update from NYSLRS.

NOTE: For security purposes, certain correspondence (like tax forms) will only be sent by mail.

To update your preference, go to the ‘My Profile Information’ area of your Retirement Online Account Homepage and click ‘Update’ next to ‘Contact by.’

And starting this year, you can choose to receive your Member Annual Statement (MAS) through Retirement Online. If you choose this option, you’ll receive an email that directs you to Retirement Online to see your 2020 MAS when it’s ready. To choose your MAS delivery preference, go to the ‘My Profile Information’ area of your Retirement Online Account Homepage and click ‘Update’ next to ‘Member Annual Statement by.’

Coming Soon: A New Look for Your MAS

Your MAS provides your retirement account information as of March 31, 2020, the end of the State fiscal year. The new, streamlined look provides valuable information about your NYSLRS benefits and membership in a clear, comprehensive and easy-to-read format. Your statement includes your retirement plan, total service credit and contributions, the beneficiaries for your death benefit, a projection of your pension benefit and more. You can also save and print it for your records.

The MAS is an important tool to help you plan for retirement. Be sure to choose your MAS delivery preference and update your contact information so you can receive it this year. In addition, you can see your current benefit information every day by logging into Retirement Online.