If you have general questions about NYSLRS or your benefits, we have a web page that can help you find the answers.
That’s because the NYSLRS Contact Us page does double duty. It not only lists contact information, it also helps you find answers for many of the common questions we get from members, retirees and beneficiaries. It covers subjects like address changes, loans, pension estimates, direct deposit and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
To get started, go to the Contact Us page and select the Member, Retiree or Beneficiary button to find the questions and answers you need. Each section has categories specific to that member group.
Member Annual Statement
Mortgage Letter/Account Verification Letter
Withdrawing from NYSLRS
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
Pension Verification Letters
Pension Verification Letters
Reporting a Death
Who is a Beneficiary?
Getting Account-Specific Answers
The information on the Contact Us page is general. If you’re looking for information specific to your situation, like your loan balance or a breakdown of your pension payment, sign in to Retirement Online. If you don’t already have a Retirement Online account, sign up today.
For some NYSLRS members, your retirement age matters when it comes to receiving your NYSLRS retirement benefits.
Your pension will be based largely on your years of service and final average earnings, but your age at retirement is also a factor. How age plays into the equation depends on your tier and retirement plan.
Members in regular retirement plans can retire as early as age 55, but they may face significant pension reductions if they retire before their full retirement age. The full retirement age for members in most tiers is 62, and it’s 63 for Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) Tier 6 members and for Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) Tier 6 members who leave public employment before retirement age, but have enough service to receive a pension. If you joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012, you are in Tier 6.
Benefit reductions are prorated by month. The closer you are to your full retirement age when you retire, the less the reduction will be. Here are some examples of how that would work.
ERS Tiers 2, 3 and 4, PFRS Tiers 2, 3 (Article 11), 5 and 6:If you retire at age 58 1/2, your pension will be permanently reduced by 16.5 percent.
ERS Tier 5: If you retire at age 58 1/2, your pension will be permanently reduced by 20.83 percent.
ERS Tier 6: If you retire at age 58 1/2, your pension will be permanently reduced by 29.5 percent.
Once you retire with a reduced benefit, the reduction is permanent — it does not end when you reach retirement age.
Retirement Age Exceptions
Tier 1 members can retire at 55 without a benefit reduction. Benefit reductions don’t apply to ERS Tier 2, 3 or 4 members if they retire with 30 years of service. Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System can also retire between 55 and 62 without penalty if they have 30 years of service.
Understanding how age affects your NYSLRS benefits is crucial to retirement planning. To learn more, please review your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page.
You can check your service credit total and estimate your pension using Retirement Online. Most members can use our online pension calculator to create an estimate based on the salary and service information NYSLRS has on file for them. You can enter different retirement dates to see how your choices would affect your potential benefit.
This COLA is a permanent annual increase to your retirement benefit. It is based on the cost-of-living index and is designed to address inflation.
How COLA is Determined
The law requires that COLA payments, subject to certain limitations, equal 50 percent of the previous year’s inflation rate, but are never less than 1 percent or more than 3 percent of your benefit. The adjustment is applied to the first $18,000 of your Single Life Allowance, even if you selected a different pension payment option. Once COLA payments begin, you will receive an increase to your monthly benefit each September.
The September 2020 COLA equals 1 percent, for a maximum annual increase of $180.00, or $15.00 per month before taxes.
Who is Eligible for a COLA?
To begin receiving COLA payments, you must be:
Age 62 or older and retired for five or more years; or
Age 55 or older and retired for ten or more years (uniformed employees such as police officers, firefighters and correction officers covered by a special plan that allows for retirement, regardless of age, after a specific number of years); or
A disability retiree for five years; or
The spouse of a deceased retiree receiving a lifetime benefit under a pension payment option elected by the retiree. An eligible spouse is entitled to one-half the COLA amount that would have been paid to the eligible retiree when the retiree would have met COLA eligibility; or
A beneficiary receiving the accidental death benefit for five or more years on behalf of a deceased Retirement System member.
When Will You See the Increase?
Eligible retirees will see the first 2020 COLA payment in their September pension payment. It will be available to those with direct deposit on September 30, 2020. If you receive a paper check, the COLA will be included in the check to be mailed September 29, 2020.
You can sign in to your Retirement Online account to view a current breakdown of your pension payment. If you have direct deposit and are eligible for a COLA increase, you will receive notification of the net change in your monthly payment amount in September.
If you are not eligible for a COLA yet, you will receive your first increase in the month after you become eligible. This payment will include a prorated amount to cover the month you became eligible. After that, you will receive a COLA increase each September.
Your Member Annual Statement includes valuable information about your NYSLRS membership and benefits that can help you plan for retirement. You can view your 2020 Statement right now by signing into Retirement Online. If you don’t already have an account, you can register today.
From your Retirement Online Account Homepage, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ area of the page, click the “View My Member Annual Statement” button and follow the steps. You will also be able to print or save your Statement.
Delivery of Your Member Annual Statement
NYSLRS members who chose email delivery of their Statement in Retirement Online received an email informing them that their Statement is available online. All other members will receive their 2020 Member Statement in the mail by the end of June.
New Look for 2020
This year’s Member Annual Statement has a new, streamlined look that presents your benefit and membership information in a clear, comprehensive and easy-to-read format. Some information, such as detailed pension estimates and five years of employment history, was removed from your Statement because you now have access to it in Retirement Online. Your Statement provides you with information as of March 31, but Retirement Online provides you with the most up-to-date information available.
Pension Estimates: Most members can create customized pension estimates and calculate their benefit options using Retirement Online. From your Account Homepage, scroll down to ‘My Account Summary’ and click the “Estimate my Pension Benefit” button. You can base your estimate on the salary and service information we have on file or adjust your earnings or service credit to account for possible increases in earnings or purchases of service credit. By entering different retirement dates and beneficiaries, you will see how your choices affect your potential benefit. If you are not able to use the Retirement Online calculator, contact us for an estimate.
Employment History: You can also view your employment history and reported earnings in Retirement Online. From your Account Homepage, scroll down to ‘My Account Summary’ and click the “View my Employment Summary” button. If you find that part of your employment history is missing, you can request credit for the missing service. Return to ‘My Account Summary’ and click the “Manage My Service Credit Purchases” button.
Address Change: To view or update your account information, sign in to Retirement Online. On your Account Homepage, ‘Under My Profile Information,’ you will be able to update your address and other contact information, instead of mailing in a paper form.
Update Your Delivery Preference for Next Year
Want to be notified by email next year when your Statement is ready? Sign in to Retirement Onlineto change your Statement delivery preference. Go to the ’My Profile Information‘ section on your Retirement Online Account Homepage, click “update” next to ‘Member Annual Statement By,’ then choose “email” from the dropdown menu.
Have Questions About Your Statement?
Remember, your 2020 Statement provides your account information as of March 31, 2020. To view your current membership information any time throughout the year, sign in to your Retirement Online account.
Most members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) contribute a percentage of their earnings toward their pensions. For Tier 6 members, that percentage, or contribution rate, can vary from year to year. If you joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012, you are in Tier 6.
When Tier 6 Contribution Rates are Determined
Tier 6 contribution rates are calculated annually. New rates become effective each year on April 1, the beginning of the State’s fiscal year. Once your contribution rate is set for a fiscal year, it will not change for the rest of that fiscal year. However, depending on your earnings, it may change the following year.
How Your Tier 6 Contribution Rate is Calculated
As a Tier 6 member, your contribution rate is based on how much you earn. Changes in your earnings may result in changes to your contribution rate.
For the first three years as a NYSLRS member, your contribution rate is based on an estimated annual wage we receive from your employer. After three years, the rate is based on what you actually earned two years prior. The minimum contribution rate is 3 percent of your earnings, and the maximum is 6 percent.
The percentage you contribute toward your pension while you work does not affect the pension amount you may receive in retirement. Your NYSLRS pension is a lifetime benefit based on your retirement plan, years of service credit and final average salary. You can learn more about your pension by reading your plan booklet on our Publications page. For help finding the right plan book, read our blog post, Knowing Your Retirement Plan is the Key to Retirement Planning. For more information about ERS Tier 6 memberships, read our blog post, What to Know About ERS Tier 6.
During this challenging time, NYSLRS staff continues to work hard to serve you, which includes processing retirement applications. If you are eligible and planning to retire, you don’t need to delay filing. And, if you become ill with COVID-19, you may want to file for retirement to protect your loved ones.
Regardless of your reason for retiring, you can now file for a service retirement benefit using Retirement Online. This new feature makes applying for retirement faster and easier than ever before. If you don’t already have an account, register today.
File for a Service Retirement Online
After signing in to your Retirement Online account, scroll down to the ‘My Account Summary.’ On the right, under the heading ‘I want to…,’ click the green “Apply for Retirement” button.
From there, you’ll go through a series of screens where you’ll be able to:
If you decide to file your application by mail, you will have to have your signature notarized on the application and on the payment option election form.
You can have forms notarized using audio-video technology, which allows a notary to witness a signature remotely. You can find more information about the virtual notary process on the New York Secretary of State website.
If you are in quarantine and unable to use a virtual notary, you can submit a signed form that is not notarized. You’ll need to include a letter to NYSLRS to explain that you were under quarantine when the form was signed, and submit notarized forms once the quarantine is lifted.
If you use regular mail, the filing date will be the date we receive it. If you die between the time you mail it and the time we receive it, a legible postmark will serve as the date of filing. (If you mail it from a post office, you can ask for a hand cancellation, which may help ensure the postmark is legible.)
If you become seriously ill, you may wish to file for a disability retirement benefit. That way, if you were to die before your retirement date, your beneficiary may still be eligible for a continuing pension, rather than a one-time, in-service death benefit. You may apply for a disability retirement at the same time you apply for a service retirement — there is no 15 day waiting period when filing for disability retirement.
For More Details, Read Your Retirement Plan Booklet
Your service and disability retirement benefits and death benefits are based on your tier, plan, service credit, and other factors. For details about your available benefits, please read your retirement plan booklet, available on our Publications page, or you can call our Contact Center at 866-805-0990 if you have questions.
Federal tax withholding and other deductions taken from your pension, such as union dues.
Health insurance premiums. (NYSLRS doesn’t administer health insurance benefits, but we deduct retiree premiums at the request of your former employer.)
Not a Tax Document
While your Retiree Annual Statement includes information about your benefit payments and tax withholding, it is not a tax document and should not be used for filing your federal income tax return. NYSLRS mailed 1099-R tax forms to retirees and beneficiaries in January.
If you need a reprint of your 2019 1099-R to file your taxes, you can order one online. Reprints will be mailed to the address we have on file for you, so if you’ve moved recently, you should check to make sure your contact information is up to date before requesting a reprint. The fastest way to check and update your address is with Retirement Online. From your account homepage, you can also let us know how you would like to receive information from NYSLRS by choosing your correspondence preference.
News & Notes, our semiannual newsletter, will be included with your Retiree Annual Statement. The newsletter will help you keep up with the latest news about NYSLRS and other topics of interest.
Your Statement provides a snapshot of your NYSLRS account as of December 31, 2019, but you can get up-to-date information by signing in to Retirement Online. If you don’t already have an account, you can learn more or register today.
NOTE: when there is a change in your net benefit amount, NYSLRS will notify you by mail or email.
As an Employees’ Retirement
System (ERS) Tier 6 member, your years of service are critical to your
benefits. As time goes by, and you earn service credit, you’ll reach a number
of career milestones. These milestones are points where you become eligible for
certain benefits or your existing benefits improve. Understanding these milestones
will help you better plan your career and retirement.
In ERS Tier 6, you reach your first milestone on your first day of membership. This milestone covers you for certain job-related death and disability benefits. (You can learn more about them in your Tier 6 retirement plan booklet.)
10 & 20 Years Make a Big Difference
For all NYSLRS members, there is one critical milestone: becoming vested. Being vested means that you have earned the right to a pension, even if you leave public employment before retirement age. ERS Tier 6 members become vested after they earn 10 years of service credit.
For most ERS Tier 6 members, another big milestone is the 20-year mark, when your retirement benefit improves significantly. If you retire with less than 20 years of service, you earn 1.66 percent of your final average salary (FAS) for each year of service. At 20 years, you receive 35% of your FAS. After 20 years, you’ll earn an additional 2 percent of your FAS for each year of service beyond 20.
ERS Tier 6 Special Plans
For ERS Tier 6 members in special plans, such as corrections officers, many of the milestones are the same. For example, you will become vested with 10 years of service credit.
But there are also major differences. Most importantly, correction officers in the special 25-year plan can retire after 25 years regardless of age. You can find more information in your retirement plan booklet.
In an earlier blog, we explained how to locate your retirement plan booklet. Your retirement plan booklet is an essential resource that you should consult throughout your career. It will help you in planning for your retirement and guide you when your retirement date draws near. Today we discuss what information you’ll find in that booklet and what it means.
About Your Membership
This section has information about your membership and
tier status. Look here to find out if your plan requires contributions toward
retirement, when you will be eligible for a retirement benefit, and how to
withdraw your membership.
Service credit is one of the main factors in determining
how much your pension will be. If you work full-time for the State or a participating
municipal employer for 12 months, you’ll earn a year of service credit. If you
work part-time, your service credit is prorated.
You’ll also find information about how your service
credit is calculated, how to purchase credit for previous public employment and
military service, how leaves of absence affect service credit, and how sick
leave can be used for extra service credit at retirement.
Final Average Salary
Final average salary (FAS) is another major factor in determining the amount of your pension. Your FAS is your highest average earnings during a period of consecutive years. This can be three or five years, depending on your tier.
This section describes what types of payments are used in
calculating your FAS and any limitations that may apply.
This section describes your retirement eligibility and how
your benefit is calculated. If you have questions about how much your pension
will be, this is an important section of your retirement plan booklet to read
Choosing a Pension Payment
There are several ways you can collect your pension. Some
payment options, in exchange for a reduction in your monthly payment, will
allow you to provide for your spouse or other beneficiary after you die. When
reading through this section, consider each payment option carefully, as you’ll
only have a limited time to change it after you retire.
Items That May Affect Your
This section describes different factors that can change
the amount of your pension. For example, if you retire with an outstanding
loan, your pension will be permanently reduced. Also, if you get a divorce,
your ex-spouse may be entitled to a portion of your benefit.
A Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), on the other hand, could
increase your benefit once you become eligible.
Vested Retirement Benefits
If you leave public employment before retirement age, but have met the minimum service requirement to receive a pension, you can apply for a vested retirement benefit when you become eligible.
Disability and Death
Your NYSLRS benefits include more than a pension. If you
are no longer able to perform your job because of a medical condition, you may
be eligible for a disability retirement. If you die before retirement, your
survivors may be eligible for a death benefit.
Receiving Your Benefits
Before you can receive a retirement benefit, you must file
the appropriate form with the Office of the State Comptroller. Here you’ll
learn where to find the form and what deadlines apply.
If you became an Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) Tier 5 member when the tier began in 2010, you’ve crossed one of many milestones in your public service career. You are now vested, which means you are guaranteed a NYSLRS pension even if you leave public employment at a later date.
So, what are milestones, and how do they affect NYSLRS members
throughout their career?
Why Milestones Matter
As a NYSLRS member, you’ll cross a series of thresholds throughout
your career. These member milestones occur when you earn a certain amount of service credit. Because these milestones affect how your
pension will be calculated, a better understanding of them will help you plan
You can find
these milestones on the Membership Milestones page and in your retirement plan booklet. Most
members ERS Tier 5 members will retire under the Article 15 retirement plan. (This booklet
does not cover ERS Tier 5 members in special plans, such as deputy sheriffs and
state corrections officers, but they can also find information on the
Membership Milestones page.)
Milestones for Tier 5
The day you joined NYSLRS, you were automatically covered
by certain job-related death and disability benefits. This is the first
milestone for ERS Tier 5 members. After your first year of service, you became
eligible to borrow from your retirement contributions, and after two years you
became eligible to purchase credit for previous public service.
After becoming vested at ten years, the next big
milestone is 20 years, when your retirement benefit improves. If you retire
with less 20 years of service, your pension will equal 1.66 percent of your
final average salary (FAS) for each year of service. But with 20 to 30
years of service credit, your benefit will equal 2 percent of your FAS,
multiplied by your years of service.
For each year of service beyond 30 years, you will receive
1.5 percent of FAS.