Retroactive Payments and Your NYSLRS Pension

Retroactive payments are lump sum payments you receive from your employer. These payments can be from new union contracts, arbitration awards or legal settlements that took place while you were on your employer’s payroll.

If you receive a retroactive payment from your employer, it could affect your pension benefit calculation.

How Retroactive Payments Can Affect Your Benefit

Retroactive Payments

Your final average earnings (FAE) are a major factor in your pension benefit calculation. It’s the average of your three (five for Tier 6 members) highest consecutive years of earnings. For most people, their highest years of earnings come at the end of their careers.

Retroactive payments are applied to the pay periods when they were earned, not when they were paid. So, retroactive payments can increase your FAE, and therefore your pension benefit, as long as the time period in which you earned that money is part of the time period your FAE is based on.

However, please be aware that the law limits the FAE of all members who joined on or after June 17, 1971. For most members, if your earnings increase significantly through the years used in your FAE, some of those earnings may not be able to be used toward your pension. You can find information about earnings limitations by tier, including examples, on the Final Average Earnings page on our website. If your FAE has already been affected by these earnings limits, your retroactive payment will not increase your pension benefit.

Payments Received Before Retirement. If you receive a retroactive payment from your employer before you retire, your employer will report your earnings to us through their regular reporting process. You do not need to notify us of payments you receive.

Payments Received After Retirement (State Employees). If you retired from New York State and you receive a retroactive payment after you retire, we will recalculate your pension automatically. NYSLRS receives State payroll information automatically and you do not need to notify us. You will receive correspondence from us explaining any change in your pension benefit.

Payments Received After Retirement (Non-State Employees). If you retired from a non-State employer and you receive a retroactive payment after you retire, send a letter to our Recalculation Unit in the Benefit Calculations & Disbursement Services Bureau. Please include a copy of your check stub and any correspondence you received from your employer related to the payment. Mail it to:

NYSLRS
Attn: BCDS – Recalculation Unit
110 State Street
Albany, NY 12244-0001

You can also email and upload this information to the Retirement System through our secure contact form.

Your Pension Recalculation Will Be Completed

We continue to receive a record number of pension recalculations and are working diligently to address them. If you are currently waiting for your pension amount to be recalculated, please rest assured that we will get to it. Once we complete your recalculation, you will receive payment of all the money you are owed, and a letter explaining the change in your pension amount.

Recent PEF Retroactive Payments

If you were a Public Employees Federation (PEF) member before retiring from State service, you may have recently received a retroactive payment. The current PEF contract, covering employment from April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2021, was ratified last summer. If you were a PEF member, worked during these dates and have not received your retroactive payment, please check with your previous employer.

If you retired recently and your FAE included earnings from on or after April 1, 2019, your NYSLRS pension will be increased automatically. You do not need to notify us that you received a retroactive payment.

CSEA Contract Negotiations

If you were a member of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) before you retired, your contract and any retroactive payment is currently being negotiated. Contact CSEA if you have questions.

24 thoughts on “Retroactive Payments and Your NYSLRS Pension

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      When you retire, your pension payment is based on the salary and service information we have on file for you at retirement. In some cases, slight adjustments are made to the initial amount after we receive and process final payroll information from your employer. These recalculations are processed in date order and are generally minimal compared to the overall benefit amount.

      Once we have all the information we need and we finalize your benefit amount, if your payment increases, you will receive a retroactive payment for the amount you are owed back to your date of retirement.

      Reply
  1. charles lacey

    I retired May 1 2021 and had accumulated over 200 sick days. I understand that 165 days could be added to my service time. Was employed in a public school system. I’m waiting for the final calculation to be adjusted. Could you update me on the status for me please? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      When you retire, your pension payment is based on the salary and service information we have on file for you at retirement. In some cases, slight adjustments are made to the initial amount after we receive and process final payroll information from your employer.

      These recalculations are processed in date order and are generally minimal compared to the overall benefit amount.   Once we have all the information we need and we finalize your benefit amount, if your payment increases, you will receive a retroactive payment for the amount you are owed back to your date of retirement.

      Reply
  2. John Olivieri

    What date is the retirement system up to for final recalculations. I have been retired for three years and still no final recalculation.

    Reply
    1. Dan Bielaski

      When this topic was originally posted several months ago, several retirees commented that they had gone a long time (several years, in some cases) without their expected recalculation being finalized, and one or two had stated they reached out to their local legislator and afterward their recalculation was completed. I reached out to my local legislator, and her office in turn reached out to the Advisory Council Affairs office, but the reply given contained no new information. It just reiterated that recalculations are “complicated and labor intensive” and that is why there is such a large backlog, and that the average retiree receives “98 – 99%” of what they will obtain after the final recalculation is complete.

      I have recalculated my expected final pension, based on the data already provided to the retirement system from our Treasurer’s office, and in my case the difference will be over 10%. That is way more than 1 – 2% as claimed, and apparently no interest for that withheld balance (which apparently can run into the thousands of dollars) is paid back to the retiree after the long-delayed final recalculation.

      Reply
  3. Patricia

    Still have not received my retroactive payment. I retired in December 2019 and received a vacation check in January 2020

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      When you retire, your pension payment is based on the salary and service information we have on file for you at retirement. In some cases, slight adjustments are made to the initial amount after we receive and process final payroll information from your employer. These recalculations are processed in date order and are generally minimal compared to the overall benefit amount.

      Once we have all the information we need and we finalize your benefit amount, if your payment increases, you will receive a retroactive payment for the amount you are owed back to your date of retirement.

      Reply
      1. kathy smolinski

        I have tried repeatly to find out what the deductions were on my first pension check. No one gets back to my written questions and every time I call, it says there’s a long wait message and it says to call back. This is Soo frustrating!! Can ANYONE help??

        Reply
      2. John Olivieri

        I retired in the same year and the retirement office did not add my sick leave time and any overtime for final year. Which adds to 2% not being added to my pension for last three years, I don’t consider this minimal.

        Reply
        1. DAVID DIPRINZIO

          you are right it is not minimal i have been retired since may 2022.I have 165 sick days and six weeks vacation to be added 28 months so far the answer i get a software problem during covid they are doing the final calculations by hand amazing no software backup

          Reply
    2. Anthony Fontanelli

      New York state retirement system went with a new software company called PeopleSoft. They have had to resort to manual calculations and also using the software that does not work correctly. This fix could talk years. The NYS is only working on 2019. Good luck. I also retired a little over a year ago. I was told NYS does not know when they will get to me. High number of retirements bad software and low staffing!

      Reply
  4. Kevin Chapman

    I am retired as of August of 2021 from NYS as an MC and still haven’t seen my vacation accruals added into my years of service and don’t know if the dollar amount was added in to calculate my final average salary?
    Now I see that MC is being given retroactive raise back in 2021 further complicating the calculation for FAS, my sick time value that pays for part of my and my wife’s health insurance. Therefore I believe my cost of insurance I pay for should be retroactively reduced and paid to me as well and thereby increasing my pension also- correct!
    I understand the workload and staffing issues as well as the complications in calculating our pension and must wonder what happens should I pre decease these payments/adjustments?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      When you retire, your pension payment is based on the salary and service information we have on file for you at retirement. In some cases, slight adjustments are made to the initial amount after we receive and process final payroll information from your employer. These recalculations are processed in date order and are generally minimal compared to the overall benefit amount.

      Once we have all the information we need and we finalize your benefit amount, if your payment increases, you will receive a retroactive payment for the amount you are owed back to your date of retirement.

      NYSLRS does not administer health benefits. The New York State Department of Civil Service administers the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) for New York State retirees. You can call them at 1-800-833-4344 or 518-457-5754 or email them at pio@cs.ny.gov.

      If you die, your survivors should contact us as soon as possible. Survivors can report the death of a retiree by using our online death report form, or they can call 866-805-0990 and press 3 and then 1. We’ll also need an original, certified death certificate. We’ll mail information about death benefits, and any needed forms, to your beneficiaries.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Chapman

        NYSLRS may not administer health benefits, however the payment for our health insurance is deducted from my pension. Hence- I expect, NYSLRS is involved somehow.
        Regardless many people need or could use the money they are entitled to and would not call it MINIMAL! Not to mention the extra Federal tax we must pay when recieving the lump sum retro pay.
        It would ease our minds to know all calculations /re calculation could be done in a timely fashion “like 6 to 9 months” and we could see the actual process and amounts used to make the calculations!!!

        Reply
  5. Christopher J Hartigan

    This is the worst time to get recalibrated or whatever!! My wife and I live month to month on my pension along with my social security disability check. I need to make a appointment asp…

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      To speak with a customer service representative, please call 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

      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.

      Reply
  6. Frederick Bush

    I am retired for 11years now and still receive a cola of 1.8% on the first 18.000 of my pension. This is an outrage. Our pension fund sits on hundreds of billions of dollars and hoards it as if is all theirs while doling out a paltry cola that fails to keep up with unprecedented inflation. The roughly $21 in cola is quickly eaten up by the increase in taxes and other charges. Why can’t we get a fait cola that’s calculated off of our entire pension award?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Retirement benefits, including COLA, 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 the amount that COLA is calculated on.The September 2022 COLA equals 3 percent, for a maximum annual increase of $540.00, or $45.00 per month before taxes.

      Reply
      1. Frederick Bush

        $540 per year equals $45 monthly before taxes. After taxes $45 becomes $28. The increase in healthcare contributions brings the cola down to $17 a month. If you have life insurance and your age changes, that $17 becomes $11. So much for cola. It’s a sad fact that cola is a joke. Social security system does much better than our pension with a 5.9% cola this year and hopefully a 9.8% going forward in January 2023. Why isn’t the legislators moving to increase our cola? Who is responsible for lobbying for a cola increase? Why is State government involved in our private pension fund? How much money are they siphoning off of our pension monies? Is Syate government borrowing money from our plan the same way they borrow from social security and fail to pay it back?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Under New York State law, the Comptroller is the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds the assets of the Retirement System on behalf of members, retirees and beneficiaries. The Fund’s assets cannot be diverted to the New York State General Fund or used for any purposes other than paying pension benefits.

          Reply
  7. Elio Giuliani

    Thank you in NYS LRS for this clear explanation from the accurate source. Much appreciated to clear up all the false rumors and other stories

    Reply

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