There are core elements behind each NYSLRS retirement plan that every member should know. Knowing your retirement plan details like what your pension payment options are and how your final average salary (FAS) works is essential. Learning these NYSLRS Basics can give you a good foundation of information and help you prepare for retirement.
When Can I Retire?
This is a popular question we hear from members. Because of the large number of retirement plans we manage, there isn’t one single answer to this question, but we do have answers.
If you’re in a regular retirement plan (the vast majority of members are in regular plans), you can retire any time on or after your 55th birthday. However, some service credit requirements do apply:
- Tier 1 members, depending on their plan, may need two or five years of service credit if they recently changed employers
- Tier 2, 3, or 4 members need five or more years of service credit
- Tier 5 and 6 members need ten or more years of service credit
Note: service credit is defined as the credit you receive for your paid public employment with a NYSLRS participating employer.
If you’re in a special retirement plan (most police officers, firefighters, sheriffs and correction officers are in special plans), you can retire at any age as long as you’ve met the service credit requirement for that plan. Special plan members can retire once they reach 20 or 25 years of service credit, whichever their plan requires.
Retiring at Age 55 vs. Full Retirement Age
Keep in mind that even though you could retire as early as 55, you may receive a benefit reduction* for not waiting until the full retirement age. (Visit our Early Age Reduction page to see the reductions for your tier.) Under NYSLRS regular retirement plans, you can retire with no reduction once you reach your full retirement age.
It’s important to know that if you decide to retire with a reduced benefit, the reduction is permanent – it doesn’t end once you reach your full retirement age. Keep this in mind once you start preparing for retirement.
Knowing what your full retirement age is and when you’re first eligible to retire is just one part of the NYSLRS Basics series. Look out for a future post on retirement option selection.
*There are some exceptions: Tier 1 members can retire at age 55 without a benefit reduction; ERS Tier 2, 3 & 4 members and Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System can retire at age 55 with 30 or more years of service credit without a benefit reduction.
I will have 30 years service in July 2018, however, I will not turn 55 until November. Can I leave my job in August and put my retirement papers in for November without penalty?
If you are referring to the early-age pension benefit reduction covered in our blog post, then yes you can. Once you have 30 years of service, your pension would not be reduced regardless of whether you retire directly from employment or not.
However, there are other benefits that could be affected if you go off payroll before retiring, such as death benefits and health insurance benefits. We recommend that you contact your health benefits administrator to find out how your health insurance would be affected.
We also recommend that you contact our customer service representatives for account-specific details on how your pension would be affected. You can call them at 1-866-805-0990. You can also email them using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.
I would like to retire when I am 62 at the end of april 2017 I believe I will be a couple months short of 25 yrs service at that time. I,m tier 2, Would I receive full benefits or do I need to wait till ii have 25 yrs. thanks
For most retirement plans, there is no early age reduction if you retire when you reach age 62. But, in order to get you the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form, and one of our representatives can review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.
You can also read more about your plan on our publications page.
Does any sick time accrued add to your service credit length? If I will have 30 years in August and I have three months’ worth of sick leave credit, can I retire in May and still effectively have 30 years’ credit?
If your employer provides the sick leave benefit (Section 41(j) of the Retirement and Social Security Law), you may receive additional service credit for your unused, unpaid sick leave at retirement. However, you cannot use this additional credit to qualify for better retirement benefit calculation or reach a milestone. If you are a Tier 2, 3, or 4 member retiring before age 62 and need 30 years of service credit to retire without a benefit reduction, you would need to earn the 30 years of service first. Then, if your employer offers the sick leave benefit, you can receive the additional time toward your retirement benefit calculation.
How much of unused “VACATION” payout, if any can be applied to a tier 4 member’s FAS?
Tier 4 members can use up to 30 days of vacation pay towards their FAS calculation as long as their last three consecutive years are the highest. There are limitations though. For Tier 4 members, each year of your FAS cannot be more than 10% higher than the average of the previous two years. Any earnings above the limit will not be used in your pension calculation.
For more information, or information about other tiers, please visit our Final Average Salary page or find your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page.
you stated at the beginning of this entry that “you cannot use this additional credit to qualify for better retirement benefit calculation” but at the end you state that “you can receive the additional time toward your retirement benefit calculation”. can you clarify this please.
If you are referring to the benefit that offers additional service credit for sick leave under Section 41(j) or 341(j) of the Retirement and Social Security Law, in most cases you can use it to increase your total service credit. However, you cannot use this credit to:
· Qualify for vesting. For example, if you have four years and ten months of service credit and you need five years to be vested, your sick leave credit cannot be used to make you vested.
· Qualify for a better retirement benefit calculation. For example, if you have 19½ years of service credit but your pension calculation will improve substantially if you have 20 years, your sick leave credit cannot be used to get the better calculation.
· Increase your pension beyond the maximum amount payable under your retirement plan.
· Meet the service credit requirement to retire under a special 20- or 25-year plan.
Check out the Additional Service Credit for Sick Leave section in your plan booklet, which is available on our Publications page.
If you have questions about your specific circumstances, we recommend emailing our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.
I will have 30 years of service credit as a NYS Corrections Officer (Tier 3) in 2019, however, I will be 51 years old. Will I be able to retire without a benefit reduction or will I have to wait until I turn 55 years old to retire? Are there any benefits if I continue to work longer than age 55?
Assuming you are covered under the Article 14 Corrections Officer plan, with 25 years of creditable Corrections service, you may retire at any age with full benefits (one-half of your final average salary [FAS]).
If you retire between the ages of 55 and 62 (between 55 and 63 for Tier 6 members) with more than 25 years of service, you will receive the better benefit provided by either:
I will have 30 years of service credit with my employer of July 1, 2016. My question is can I retire any day after July 1, 2016?
Assuming you’re in a regular retirement plan, you can apply for retirement any time after you reach age 55. Once you have 30 years of service credit before you reach the age of 62, you can retire without a benefit reduction. You should confirm the date you’ll have 30 years of service credit by submitting a Request for Estimate form (RS6030). On the form, explain that you want an estimate based on the date you will have 30 years of service credit.