Knowing Your Retirement Plan
is the Key to Retirement Planning

Information is the key to being fully prepared for your retirement years. The single most important thing you can do to achieve this goal is to know what NYSLRS retirement plan you’re in. Once you know that, the next thing you must do is understand the benefits your plan provides.

Your retirement plan booklet covers things like how long you’ll need to work in order to receive a pension, how your pension amount is determined, and what kind of death and disability benefits may be available to you. You can find a copy of your plan booklet on our Publications page.

But here’s the challenge: NYSLRS manages 335 retirement plan combinations, which are described in 51 plan booklets. How do you figure out which is yours?  The information below should help.

Retirement plan

Two Key Questions

To get started, you need to answer two questions.

Question One: Which retirement system are you in? NYSLRS is made up of two different systems:

  • The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), which is for public employees in non-teaching positions. It also includes some law enforcement personnel, such as correction officers, sheriffs and sheriffs’ deputies.
  • The Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), which is for paid firefighters and police officers, including SUNY police, State Park police, Encon officers and State Forest Rangers.

Question Two: Which tier are you in? There are six tiers in ERS and five tiers in PFRS. Your tier, based on when you joined NYSLRS, determines such things as when you become eligible for benefits and how much you contribute. You can find your tier by checking your Account Information in Retirement Online or by checking the What Tier Are You In? page on the NYSLRS website.

Know Your Retirement Plan Number

For many members, knowing your retirement system and tier are enough. But for other members, especially those in law enforcement, it may help to have your retirement plan number as well. The plan number indicates the section of Retirement and Social Security Law the plan is based on. For example, Plan A15 indicates that you are covered by Article 15. You can find your plan number in the Account Information section of Retirement Online.

Roughly three-quarters of all ERS members are covered by Article 15; they just need to know their tier to find the correct booklet.

State policeSUNY policeState Encon OfficersState Park Police and Forest Rangers each have their own plan booklet, which can be found in the PFRS section of the Publications page. That’s also where you’ll find the Special 20- and 25-Year Plans, which cover officers in most municipal police departments. (Members in these special plans should see 384, 384-d or 384-e listed in Retirement Online.)

If you are still unsure which retirement plan booklet covers your benefits, you can send us an email using our secure contact form, or you can ask your employer.

Take the Time to Understand Your Retirement Plan

It cannot be stated enough how important it is to read your plan publication to learn all you can about your benefits. It is the key to solid retirement planning. Remember, no one has a more vested stake in your retirement than you do.

22 thoughts on “Knowing Your Retirement Plan
is the Key to Retirement Planning

  1. Tomas Killington

    My parents are getting to the age where they could consider retiring. I have been contemplating what I should do to prepare for my retirement because I haven’t really started. I didn’t know how important it is to consider things like how many years I’ll need to work to get a pension and what kind of death benefits I have available to me, and a professional can help me determine what strategy will work best. I’ll definitely start thinking about what I need to do to ensure a happy retirement.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry; the NYSLRS social media team doesn’t have access to your account information. If you have a question about your New York State and Local Retirement System account, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (see link below), and 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.

      http://www.emailNYSLRS.com

      Reply
      1. Laurie lundquis

        I received an email to check the booklet. I followed proper protocol, and was also informed these pensions are rarely approved. Can you provide us the stats? Also I couldn’t fight this due to money needed to pay a civil rights atty. please be mindful I also requested assistance from OSHA due to sexual assault issues. I also asked for a reasonable accommodation due to my disability, but was denied! Requests for investigation have also been shunned, so I do believe you need to explain this harm of disabled people.

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          We’re sorry you could not reach us. Your message is important to us and we have sent you an email in response.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      You can find retirement plan booklets on our Publications page. These web presentations of our plan publications have a print function in the left hand navigation, if you prefer to read hard copies.

      Reply
  2. Patricia A Waelder

    I have been trying to make an appointment with someone to go through my options as I am planning to retire this fall. I am unable to speak with anyone about this as “the call volume has been high”. I am asked to try again on the next business day. This has been maddening! I have also somehow locked myself out of the online site and cannot get anyone on the phone who can help me reset my password. PLEASE HELP!!
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry you could not reach us. Your message is important to us and we have sent you an email in response.

      Reply
    2. NYSLRS

      We’ve been informed that a NYSLRS customer service representative contacted you. We’re glad they were able to help.

      Reply
  3. Lisa Olson

    I have been trying to contact someone regarding my reinstatement and what my balance is. I cannot ever get through due to “high call volume” I put in my phone number to have someone call me back because I held for a very long time and no one has done so. When I attempted to register online as the recording says I get an error message saying the system is unable to identify me and to contact NYSLRS. This is incredibly frustrating. Please help.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry you could not reach us. Your message is important to us and we have sent you an email in response.

      Reply
    2. NYSLRS

      We’ve been informed that a NYSLRS customer service representative contacted you. We’re glad they were able to help.

      Reply
  4. Trisha Brady

    My information is all wrong. I am down as working 85% but I am Full Time. Years are missing. My payments are being posted timely. You can’t reach anyone. I paid for prior service “optional” in full, and now I see there is a balance almost $1000. How can this be? This system is so poorly run.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry you could not reach us. Your message is important to us and we have sent you an email in response.

      Reply
  5. Donna Needham

    I have call so many times it is a joke in my office. The volume of calls is to high and then I get disconnected. I am running out of time as I am retiring this Summer. I will have 30 years this year and will be 62 this April (next month).

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry you could not reach us. Your message is important to us and we have sent you an email in response.

      Reply
    2. NYSLRS

      We’ve been informed that a NYSLRS customer service representative contacted you. We’re glad they were able to help.

      Reply
  6. Donna Needham

    She was wonderful what great customer service skills she has. I was never rushed and she asked many times in between if there were questions. I felt so uncomfortable not knowing what to do or in what order to do them and she took all my worries away. She filled me with knowledge and gave me power to take care of my retirement details. Thank you so much for your kindness and making me feel like I was your only future retiree that needed help.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Yes, the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) are qualified defined benefit retirement plans under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.

      Reply

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