NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time: ERS Tier 6

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you’re assigned a tier based on the date of your membership. There are six tiers in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and five in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Each tier has a different benefit structure established by New York State legislation. Our series, NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time, walks through each tier to give you a quick look at the benefits in both ERS and PFRS.

Today’s post looks at ERS Tier 6, which includes anyone who joined ERS since April 1, 2012. There were 311,469 ERS Tier 6 members as of March 31, 2021 making them the largest tier group in ERS.

ERS Tier 6

ERS Tier 6 Membership Milestones

ERS Tier 6 members need ten years of service credit to become vested. Once vested, they’re eligible for a lifetime pension benefit as early as age 55, but if they retire before the full retirement age of 63, their benefit will be reduced. Tier 6 correction officers, however, can retire with 25 years of service, regardless of age, without penalty.

The Final Average Earnings (FAE) Calculation

An ERS Tier 6 member’s final average earnings is the average of their earnings in the five highest-paid consecutive years of employment. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average earnings of the previous four years by more than 10 percent.

Tier 6 Service Retirement Benefit

Generally, if an ERS Tier 6 member retires with less than 20 years, the benefit is 1.66 percent of their FAE for each year of service. If a member retires with exactly 20 years of service, the benefit is 1.75 percent of their FAE for each year of service (35 percent of the member’s FAE).

If a member retires with more than 20 years of service, they receive 35 percent for the first 20 years, plus 2 percent for each additional year. For example, a member with 35 years of service can retire at 63 with a pension worth 65 percent of their FAE.

Where to Find More ERS Tier 6 Information

ERS Tier 6 members can find more details about their benefits in the publications listed below:

For benefit information about special plans for other job titles, please visit our Publications page. Stay tuned for more NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time posts.

45 thoughts on “NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time: ERS Tier 6

  1. Benjamin Arthur Barber

    Whit the new law.april 2022.i will get a reduced. Amounth.and may check.
    And I can still keep on working at the same place

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      In order to retire, a member must have a bona fide termination and be removed from payroll before the effective date of retirement. This is required by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules and the Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL). When you apply to retire, we will notify your employer that your last day on their payroll must be no later than the day before your date of retirement.

      Whether a termination has occurred is based on whether facts indicate that the employer and employee reasonably anticipated that no further services would be performed after the retirement date. Where it is expected that the employee will return to employment after the date of retirement, or where a member is retained on the payroll and paid for services past the date of retirement, there is no termination and the service retirement will be voided. Any pension amounts paid in error due to the fact that a retirement was invalid will be recovered by the Retirement System.

      Under RSSL Sections 211 and 212, employers may employ retirees with certain limitations.

      If you have questions, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990, 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
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      For information about how your Tier 6 retirement benefit would be calculated, please see your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page.

      For account-specific information, 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
  2. Bryan

    Can someone tell me the real benefit of being “vested”? Who cares that it went from 10 to 5 years for tier 6? That doesn’t change the fact that I am still paying 6% of my salary for my entire career when people that were hired one year before me paid 3% a fraction of the years. It’s such a scam. How about I keep all my money and invest for my own retirement! Pensions are antiquated and dont befit the employee! The state takes our money, makes money off it in the form of interest, capital gains, and dividends, and then returns it to us later after inflation has crushed the value of our money

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Your NYSLRS pension will be based on a preset formula that takes into account your salary and years of service. It will not be based on your individual contributions to the Retirement System. Defined benefit pension plans provide a guaranteed lifetime benefit. Read this blog post to learn more about the difference between defined benefit pension plans and 401(k)-style defined contribution plans.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

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

      Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          Disability benefits vary by tier and retirement plan. In most cases, you must have at least ten years of service credit to be eligible for a disability benefit, unless your disability stems from an on-the-job accident, not due to your own willful negligence.

          For more information, please check your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retirement/publications or email our customer service representatives using our the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailnyslrs.com).

          Reply
      1. Elaine Chan

        If an employee leaves after the April 9th 2022 date, will the employee still be vested correctly if the changes do not yet reflect on the account summary? For example someone who will leave state service after 7 years on June 30th.

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

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

          If your total estimated service credit in Retirement Online is more than five years, rest assured, you are considered vested.

          Reply
  3. Joel Betances

    Tier 6 need to be vested in 5 years a lot of peoples are talking about Fix tier 6 can somebody give me some information about the fix tier 6

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

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

      Reply
      1. Kelly Peterson

        I have 9 years as a tier 6 as a Registered nurse – AM I CONSIDERED VESTED NOW!? not in 1 year?!

        Reply
  4. Steven

    Unfortunately the union’s need to get involved, being a cleaner in a school district sounds like a good job, until you figure out your all that’s taken out. Retirement system 320.00 a month medical 435.00 a month dental 150.00month don’t forget 500.00 in fed/state/social security oops left out union dues.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      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 action terminates membership and these individuals become ineligible for any Retirement System benefits. Members with more than ten years of service cannot withdraw their contributions; however, they will be eligible to apply for and receive a retirement benefit when they reach retirement age.

      You can find more information in our booklet What if I Leave Public Employment? If you are considering leaving the public payroll, we suggest you email our customer service representatives using the secure email form 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.

      Reply
      1. Patricia Robertson

        Is there a limit to how much money you can earn after retiring with a NYS pension if you choose to retire after 5 years of service? And, are you eligible for health coverage if you retire with 5 years of service?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          Most NYSLRS retirees can earn up to $35,000 per calendar year from public employment without a reduction in their pension. There generally is no earnings limit starting in the year the retiree turns 65 or if the retiree works for a private employer.

          Please read our recent blog post about temporary waivers of the earnings limit.

          NYSLRS does not administer health care benefits. Your employer’s benefits administrator should be able to answer your questions about health coverage.

          For account-specific questions about your NYSLRS benefits, 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. Steven

      Yes you can , and should if you put 50000 into the system you get 7percent interest better then getting 6000 a year you will make that on interest or dividends

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS Post author

        NYSLRS member contributions earn 5 percent interest. If a member leaves public employment before becoming vested, contributions will earn interest for seven years.

        Reply
  5. Mike

    Is there any way to opt out of the pension program?

    The contributions im making right now would be better suited in a 401k. With the gains over the year i would make close to 1million by retirement and atleast it will be MY money. With this pension program i will contribute 250000. It will take me years to just get back MY own money back. Complete overcorrection to make up for 125 billion dollar deficit they had.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      NYSLRS membership is mandatory for permanent, full-time employees of employers that participate in the Retirement System.

      You should know that, unlike a 401(k), 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 you will receive a lifetime benefit that will be based on your years of service and your earnings.

      Most members can use the benefit calculator in Retirement Online to estimate their pensions based on information we have on file for them. Sign in to your account, go to the My Account Summary area of your Account Homepage and click the “Estimate my Pension Benefit” button. If you don’t already have an account, go to the Sign In page and click the “Sign Up” link under the “Customer Sign In” button.

      If you have questions or need help with Retirement Online, please contact the NYSLRS Call Center at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area). Press 2 and follow the prompts.

      Reply
  6. KIMBERLY ROYAL

    If a Tier 6 member were to resign at 55 years old but not retire and collect until 63 years of age, does this eliminate the age % penalty?

    Reply
      1. Cody

        So to be clear, I’m tier 6 and I started at 19 years old, can I resign at 55 and just not collect until I’m 63 and receive full benefits for the 36 years?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Yes, you would be considered a vested Tier 6 member and eligible to apply for a full retirement benefit based on the situation you described. The benefit would be calculated using the service and earnings you received when you were an active member.

          However, leaving the public payroll before you are eligible to retire may affect your eligibility for certain death benefits and health benefits. You may 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 also find our booklet “What If I Leave Public Employment?” helpful.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS

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

      Reply
  7. gino poli

    I am Tier 6. @NYRS why do we have to contribute for the life of our career? Tier 5 doesnt have to? Thats alot of money we are paying in we are the worst Tier. you guys need a relook ASAP.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Retirement system rules, including those pertaining to contributions, are established by law. The decision on whether to enact new laws comes from the State Legislature and the Governor. The State Legislature would need to pass a bill and the Governor would need to sign it into law in order to change contribution requirements for Tier 6.

      Reply
      1. James Contratti

        Before and when there is a tier 7 the state should revisit tiers 5 and 6 and make the time to get vested 7or 8 years and they could increase the age to 65 years old just for this category, due to no fault of their own failing companies have forced some in their mid to late 50s to find new employment some in civil service. I understand maintaining the pension fund but to increase vesting from 5 years to 10 when tier 4 ended without a new provision, this category would pay a penalty on any years prior to 65 years of age for retirement.

        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.

  8. Richard Manitoba

    My son is 19 going into the Coast Guard for four years let’s say he becomes a New York City trooper let’s say he starts at 24 and he gets from my understanding three years of credit which means he could retire after 17 years with the pension of 20 years so he will retire at 44 theoretically at tier 6 if he retires after 20 years what is the pension that he would get

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You can find information about retirement benefits for New York City police officers on the New York City Police Pension Fund website.

      In NYSLRS, New York State Police officers are eligible to retire at any age if they have 20 years of creditable service. They may be able to receive credit for military service.

      At 20 years, the pension would be equal to 50 percent of the officer’s final average earnings (FAE). For Tier 6 members, FAE is the average of their highest five consecutive years of earnings, although some limitations would apply. Usually these are the years right before retirement, but they can be anytime in the officer’s career.

      For more information, please see the State Police Plan booklet.

      Reply
  9. Tom D

    whens the state or
    locals goverments going to group 911 Dispatchers in for 25 year retirement since we are
    now
    classified as the first true responders? Gov signed the bill. whats
    it mean
    more training and and more
    work (do more with less)
    going into police depts budgets -and not into comms
    centers? Time for NYS Senate to back a 25
    year
    no age
    restrictions
    for 911
    nys dispatchers its long over do!!

    Reply
  10. Shawn

    I have grandparents in Tier 1 and 4. The benefits they receive far exceed their contribution. Matthew is correct. Tier 6 needs a relook.

    Reply
  11. Matthew

    Tier 5 would have been great with a 30 year rule for the elimination of the benefit reduction. Tier 6 just seems like a horrible, mis-guided over-correction that allows the state to use the employer contributions on younger Tier 6 members to subsidize the the pension payments to other tier members. It leaves young life-long Tier 6 members with an effective employer contribution of <2% when you convert the values to compare it to defined contribution plans. McDonald's employees get a higher employer match…

    Hopefully, overtime, Tier 6 members can win back some of the benefits that once justified the lower wages associated with state service, or gain new benefits like a freeze on retirement healthcare payment increases…though if the state doesn't start funding these liabilities we might as well say goodbye to affordable retirement healthcare as well!

    Reply
    1. Funnygal

      100% accurate assessment. Tier 6 is horrible. Adding insult to injury, tier 4 and below have much higher take home pay since their (lower) contributions cease after yr 10. So they can double up on retirement savings by investing their earnings in IRAs and 403bs while the rest of us plump their NYSTRS accounts for them.

      Reply
      1. Uncle Joe

        Whoa…Hold the phone Funnygal!! We in tier 4 paid our dues. And, part of our getting the benefits was accepting the lower salaries that went with them. Tier 6 employees walk into positions with a salary very close to what 4’s are making after doing the same job for 20+ years. How’s that fair?? Even with our Steps & Cola raises….the base salaries increased allowing new people to hired at a salary very close behind those of us who had been working the job for decades. That would’nt fly in the private sector.

        AND, it depends if you’re a State employee, County employee, or Local City/Town employee as the pay and benefits get worse the further you get from State. While the retirement is all about the same across the board…CSEA does not fight the same for all workers regardless of location of employment. So, NYS employees will ALWAY have a better retirement package than the rest as they have better salaries paying into the system.

        Sure, tier 6 now looks at tier 4 with bright eyes just like we in tier 4 looked at tier 1 years ago. Your deal is worse than ours….true. But, ours is worse than tier 1. It is what it is.

        Reply
        1. Peter

          “Tier 6 employees walk into positions with a salary very close to what 4’s are making after doing the same job for 20+ years”

          I don’t understand this logic. A new hire makes 10,000-20,000 less base salary then someone on step 6.

          Then you take into account that tier 4 makes no contributes after (10 years???) whereas tier 6 contributes an average of 5% their entire career.

          Is tier 1 better than 4? Yes. Is tier 4 better than 6? Yes. But the reality is tier 6 is paying for the situation which Shawn outlined about.

          Reply

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