After months or years of retirement planning, you’re probably looking forward to the day when you apply for your NYSLRS pension. But before you retire, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. After all, by filing for retirement, you’re making critical decisions about your financial future. And once you’ve retired, some of those decisions will be irrevocable. Whether your planned retirement date is just around the corner or a few years off, asking these questions now could help you avoid costly mistakes.
Do I have all the service credit I think I have?
Under some retirement plans, service milestones (20 years, 30 years, reaching full retirement age) can have a big impact on the amount of your benefit. If you’re aiming for one of these milestones, but retire just short of reaching it, your pension will be less than you might be expecting. To make sure you have enough service credit on your planned retirement date, sign in to Retirement Online to check the most up-to-date estimate of your total service credit.
Do I have previous service credit I want to purchase?
You may be able to buy credit for previous public employment or military service, which in most cases would increase your pension.
If you are planning to purchase service credit, including military service, you should do that as soon as possible, especially since you can’t purchase service credit after you retire. You can apply for additional credit in Retirement Online or by submitting a Request to Purchase Service Credit form (RS5042). You may also wish to read our publication Service Credit for Tier 2 Through 6.
Do I have a balance on a NYSLRS loan?
If you have an outstanding balance on a NYSLRS loan, you should pay it off before you retire. If you retire with an outstanding loan, your pension will be permanently reduced.
While Employees’ Retirement System members may repay their loan after retiring, they must pay back the full amount of the outstanding balance that was due at retirement in one lump-sum payment. Once the loan has been repaid, their pension benefit will be increased from that point going forward, but it will not be adjusted retroactively back to their date of retirement.
You can use your Retirement Online account to check your loan balance, make a lump-sum payment or increase your payment amount. For more information, visit our Loans page.
Retirement Planning Resources
The more you know about retirement and the retirement process, the better off you’ll be. Here are some resources that can help with your retirement planning:
- Most members can estimate their pensions in Retirement Online. You can use this estimate to prepare a post-retirement budget.
- Our retirement timeline shows the steps you’ll need to take and highlights topics and information you’ll need to consider as you approach the big day.
- Our Countdown to Retirement blog series details things you can do to prepare for retirement in the 18 months before your retirement date.
If my retirement date is 7/18/23 when can I expect to receive my first pension check?
Most members get their first pension payment at the end of the month following their retirement date.
However, certain situations may delay your first payment. If you don’t submit your proof of date of birth or pension payment option form, or if you have a domestic relations order on file, your first payment may be delayed.
What is Member Contribution Balance?
What happens to that when I retire?
You can find your Member Contribution Balance in the My Account Summary section of your Retirement Online account. Your Member Contribution Balance is the total of your contributions to the Retirement System, plus interest.
However, 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. Your contributions will be used to help fund the cost of your pension.
For account-specific information about your NYSLRS benefits, please message our customer service representatives using our secure contact form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.
I’ve heard about “buying service credit years” from some of my co-workers but I hesitated to ask them in details about it. I belong to Tier 4. I will only be turning 57 years old this coming June with only 16 years of service credit. My question is this: Could I buy 4 years of service credit when I turned 57 in June and then the retirement system/office can add this 4 years to make it 61 years and I file for retirement and just be penalize with the 6% reduction? (I hope my question does’nt sound vague or ridiculous?)
You may be able to purchase additional service credit if you worked in public employment before you became a NYSLRS member or if you have military service. For more information, visit our webpage, Service Credit for Tiers 2 – 6.
Please be aware that IF you were able to purchase an additional four years of service credit (to bring you to a total of 20 years of service), it would have no impact on your age. If you are in Tier 4, your full retirement age is 62 but you could retire as early as 55 with a reduced retirement benefit.
For account-specific information about how buying service credit may affect your retirement benefits, please message our customer service representatives using our secure contact form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.
In Oct 2022 I submitted notarized form to correct information about my beneficiaries. I know form was received on Oct 4; scanned on Oct 11. But correction has not been made. Queries sent via online form yield no response. Every time I call Customer Service, I get automated reply about “High Volume of Calls…Try again Tomorrow,” then it disconnects. How can I get help?
Your message is important to us, and we have sent you a private message in response.
It’s a very good blog i’ve read. Would like to hear more from you, keep the work going. Retirement Planning
I only work part time. What happens if I never reach the goal of 8.66 more years to be vested? What happens to what I have contributed so far?
As of April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested.
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.
i called and spoke to someone. They said I would get paperwork in the mail. I have yet to recieve it. I retire next month. There are no in person visits. What do I do now??
To check the status of the paperwork, you can call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts. A representative can also answer any questions you may have about your retirement benefits.
You can also 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.
Online Retirement does not work will not let me sign up
For help with Retirement Online, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts.