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.

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

  1. 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.

    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.

  2. 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

    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.

  3. Tom D

    whens the state or
    locals goverments going to group 911 Dispatchers in for 25 year retirement since we are
    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
    no age
    for 911
    nys dispatchers its long over do!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

    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.

      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.


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