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.
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.
When was the last time you updated your contact information with NYSLRS? If you don’t remember updating it recently, make sure we have the correct ways to contact you. (Even if you updated your contact information with your employer, that doesn’t update it with NYSLRS.) We want to make sure you continue to receive important information about your NYSLRS benefits.
Please share this post with friends, family or coworkers who
are NYSLRS members so they can also check their contact information.
Use Retirement Online to Change Your Contact Information
The fastest way to check and change your contact information
is through Retirement Online. When you sign in to your Retirement
Online account, click on ‘Update’ next to your home address or email
If you don’t have a Retirement Online account, it’s easy to create one. Visit our Retirement Online for Members page and click ‘Register Now’ under the Sign In button. When you create your account, you’ll be asked to provide the ZIP code of your home address. If it doesn’t recognize your current ZIP code, it’s likely we have an older address on file for you. Please use the older ZIP code to create your account — you can update your address afterward.
Mail or Email? Pick Your Delivery Preference
You can receive correspondence from us by mail or email by selecting your delivery preference in Retirement Online. If you choose ‘Email,’ you’ll receive an email notifying you to log in to Retirement Online to read new correspondence that we sent you. If you choose ‘Mail’ or don’t select a preference, we’ll continue to send you letters through the US Postal Service. Email is the fastest way to receive an update from NYSLRS.
NOTE: For security purposes, certain correspondence (like
tax forms) will only be sent by mail.
To update your preference, go to the ‘My Profile
Information’ area of your Retirement Online Account Homepage and click
‘Update’ next to ‘Contact by.’
And starting this year, you can choose to receive your
Member Annual Statement (MAS) through Retirement Online. If you choose this
option, you’ll receive an email that directs you to Retirement Online to
see your 2020 MAS when it’s ready. To choose your MAS delivery preference, go
to the ‘My Profile Information’ area of your Retirement Online Account
Homepage and click ‘Update’ next to ‘Member Annual Statement by.’
Coming Soon: A New Look for Your MAS
Your MAS provides your retirement account information as of March 31, 2020, the end of the State fiscal year. The new, streamlined look provides valuable information about your NYSLRS benefits and membership in a clear, comprehensive and easy-to-read format. Your statement includes your retirement plan, total service credit and contributions, the beneficiaries for your death benefit, a projection of your pension benefit and more. You can also save and print it for your records.
The MAS is an important tool to help you plan for retirement. Be sure to choose your MAS delivery preference and update your contact information so you can receive it this year. In addition, you can see your current benefit information every day by logging into Retirement Online.
While most New York teachers and administrators are in the New York State Teachers’ retirement system, other school employees are members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). In fact, 1 out of 5 NYSLRS members works for a school district. Most work according to the school year, which could be only 10 or 11 months long. So how do we determine service credit for them?
Earning NYSLRS Service Credit When School Employees Work Full-Time
If you’re a school employee who works full-time, you receive one year of service per school year. Generally, a full-time 10-month school year requires at least 180 days worked in any school year. Depending on your employer, a full academic year can range from 170 to 200 days.
Earning NYSLRS Service Credit When School Employees Work Part-Time
Part-time school employees earn service credit based on the number of days they work. The number of hours in a full-time day is set by your employer (it’s between six and eight hours). If you don’t work full-time, your employer converts the number of hours you worked into the equivalent number of full-time days. Your employer reports that number to us, and your days worked are plugged into the formulas below.
Regardless of whether you work full- or part-time, depending on the length of your school year, your service is credited in the following ways:
For all BOCES and school district employees, as well as
teachers working at New York State schools for the deaf and blind:
Number of days worked ÷ 180 days
For college employees:
Number of days worked ÷ 170 days
For institutional teachers:
Number of days worked ÷ 200 days
Check Your Service Credit
You can check your Retirement Online account to find your current service credit total.
You can also check your Member Annual Statement, which is provided to you every summer. For most members, your statement will show how much service credit you’ve earned for the past fiscal year (April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019). It will also show your total service credit as of March 31, 2019. Make sure to look it over to see how much service credit you’ve earned over your career.
After months of planning and preparation, you’re ready to apply for retirement. To get your NYSLRS pension benefit, you need to send in an application. Let’s look at what you should include with the form to help make the retirement process go more smoothly.
Know your past employment. To help ensure you receive the proper credit for your public service, please list your public employment history. Include any military service and memberships in other New York public retirement systems.
Include your beneficiary’s information. You won’t make an official beneficiary designation with this form, but including these details will help us give you specific amounts for the pension payment options that offer a lifetime benefit for a beneficiary.
See a notary. The form must be filled out completely and signed by a notary public.
Proof of Birth
Make sure we have proof of your birth date. You can send it with your retirement application or before or after, but we cannot pay pension benefits without it. We accept photocopies of the following as proof:
New York State driver’s license issued on or after January 1, 2005
You’ll need to choose your pension payment option, or how you want your pension paid. Option election forms are available on our website, but we will also send you a form after we process your application. If you choose an option that provides your beneficiary a lifetime pension benefit when you die, you must provide proof of your beneficiary’s birth date.
Federal Income Tax Withholding
Your NYSLRS pension isn’t subject to New York State income tax, but it is subject to federal tax. You can fill out a W-4P form any time to tell us how much to withhold from your monthly benefit. We don’t withhold income tax for other states. Visit the Retired Public Employees Association’s website to see whether your benefit will be taxed in another state.
Direct deposit is the fastest and most secure way to receive your pension benefits. You can enroll in our direct deposit program when you file for retirement. Just fill out a Direct Deposit Enrollment Application (RS6370), and return it to us.
Domestic Relations Order
If an ex-spouse is entitled to part of your pension, you should send us a copy of your domestic relations order (DRO) as soon as possible. The DRO gives us specific instructions on how to divide your benefits. We cannot finalize your pension until we review it and calculate the court-mandated distribution of your benefit. For more detailed information, please read our Guide to Domestic Relations Orders.
Service credit plays a vital part in your pension calculation and your eligibility for other NYSLRS benefits. As a NYSLRS member, you earn service credit by working for an employer who participates in the Retirement System. All your paid public employment is creditable. You would not, however, earn credit for any period when you are not receiving a salary, such as an unpaid leave of absence. If you work full-time or part-time, you’re earning service credit, just at different rates.
Earning Service Credit When You Work Full-Time
When you work on a full-time, continuous basis throughout your career, we’ll calculate your total service credit from your date of employment up until the date you leave paid employment. Most full-time workers earn a year of service credit for working 260 work days in a year. For a full-time 12-month employee, 260 work days constitutes a full year. For our members who work for school districts, a full-time 10-month academic year can be 180 work days. (If you work in an educational setting, we covered that in an earlier blog post.)
Earning Service Credit When You Work Part-Time
Your service credit is prorated if you work part-time. Part-time employment is credited as the lesser of:
the number of days worked ÷ 260 days
your reported annual salary ÷ (the State’s hourly minimum wage × 2,000)
You can think of it like this: let’s say you work 130 days in a year. If a year’s worth of service credit is earned for working 260 days full-time, you’d earn half a year (0.5) of service credit for your part-time work.
Check Your Member Annual Statement
From May to July, we’ll send out this year’s Member Annual Statements. For most members, your statement will show how much service credit you’ve earned over the past fiscal year (April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018). It will also show your total service credit as of March 31, 2018. Make sure to look it over to see how much service credit you’ve earned over your career.
As we sit down to plan our retirement, we ask ourselves some tough questions: Am I saving enough? Am I ready for the lifestyle change? Do I need to tighten my budget now or will I need to in retirement?
These questions are all aimed at helping us answer one central question: When is the right time to retire?
According to recent Gallup research, there is often a significant gap between the age we plan to retire and how old we are when we actually do.
Gallup’s April 2016 survey asked workers, “At what age do you expect to retire?” And, it asked retirees, “At what age did you retire?”
On average, there is a significant gap between the percent of workers who plan to retire within a certain age range and the percent of retirees who actually did. For example, 31 percent of workers intend to retire at age 68 or older. However, only 12 percent of retirees actually do. And, only 23 percent of workers think they’ll retire before age 62. Nevertheless, 36 percent of retirees ended up doing so. On average, Americans expect to retire at age 66, but actually retire at age 61. That means a significant number of us may be underestimating how many years our retirement savings need to last.
Age and Your NYSLRS Pension
Regular readers may recall that most NYSLRS retirement plans have a minimum age requirement to retire with a full benefit. However, once you are vested, you are generally able to retire as early as age 55.
An early retirement may come with a significant — and permanent — benefit reduction, though. So, if you plan to retire with a full benefit at age 62 (or 63 for Tier 6 members), but end up retiring early instead, your pension will be less than you planned.
NYSLRS has several resources to help you make your retirement plans and stay on target. We distribute your Member Annual Statement (MAS) between May and July. It contains valuable information to help you understand your benefits and plan for the future, including: your earnings, your service credit total and up to three pension projections based on your specific details. You can also check out our Preparing for Retirement — A Checklist and 5 Step Plan for Retirement pages on our website. Our Life Changes: How Do I Prepare to Retire? publication offers a step–by–step guide to the retirement process, a list of available resources and some key factors to consider as you plan.
If you have any questions about your retirement plan, we’re glad to help. Email us using our secure email form, which allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.
Generally, three main components determine your NYSLRS pension: your retirement plan, your final average salary (FAS) and your total service credit.
Your Retirement Plan
NYSLRS retirement plans are established by law. Your plan lays out the formula we’ll use to calculate your pension as well as eligibility requirements. It’s important to read your plan booklet, which you can find on our Publications page. If you aren’t certain what retirement plan you’re in, check your Member Annual Statement or ask your employer.
Final Average Salary
Your FAS is the average of your earnings during the set period of time when they were the highest. For ERS and PFRS members in Tiers 1 through 5, that period is three consecutive years; for Tier 6 members, it’s five consecutive years. Some PFRS members may be eligible for a one-year period, if their employer offers it. We will use your FAS, age at retirement, total service credit and the formula from your retirement plan to calculate your NYSLRS pension.
Generally, the earnings we can use for your FAS include regular salary, overtime and recurring longevity payments earned within the period. Some payments you receive won’t count toward your FAS, even when you receive them in the FAS period. The specifics vary by tier, and are listed in your retirement plan booklet.
In most cases, the law also limits how much your pensionable earnings can increase from year to year in the FAS period. Earnings above this cap will not count toward your pension.
Our Your Retirement Benefits publications, (ERS and PFRS), provide the limits for each tier and examples of how we’ll determine your FAS.
Service credit is credit for time spent working for a participating public employer. For most members who work full-time, 260 workdays equals one year of service credit. Members who work part-time or in educational settings can refer to their retirement plan publication for their service credit calculation.
Service credit is a factor in the calculation of your NYSLRS pension. Generally, the more credit you have, the higher your pension will be. Some special plans (usually for police officers, firefighters or correction officers) let you retire at any age once you’ve earned 20 or 25 years of service credit. In other plans, if you retire without enough service credit and don’t meet the age requirements of your retirement plan, your pension will be reduced.
It may never come up, but, you should know what would happen with your NYSLRS membership and benefits if you ever leave public employment. Even if you no longer work for a New York public employer, you’d still be a NYSLRS member. Depending on your circumstances, that membership may come with certain benefits and responsibilities.
What Happens to My Contributions If I Leave Public Employment?
If you have less than ten years of service credit, you can end your membership and request a refund of your contributions by filing a Withdrawal Application (RS5014).
If you have not earned enough service credit to be vested (eligible for a retirement benefit) and don’t withdraw your contributions, they will continue to earn 5 percent interest for seven years. At that point, if you are still off the public payroll, by law, your membership ends automatically, and your contributions will be deposited into a non-interest-bearing account. (Your contributions are not automatically refunded.)
If you are vested, your contributions will remain on deposit with NYSLRS, and when you reach retirement age, you’ll be eligible to apply for a retirement benefit.
How Will Leaving Public Employment Affect My Death Benefits?
If you have at least ten years of service credit before you leave, 50 percent of your death benefit may still be payable when you die. With less than ten years of service credit, the 50 percent death benefit is only payable if you die within one year of leaving public service.
How Can I Pay Back My Outstanding Loans?
If you have an outstanding NYSLRS loan, you must still make payments directly to NYSLRS at least once every three months. You must repay your loan within five years of the date it was issued, or you will default on the loan. Defaulting on a loan may carry considerable tax consequences: You’ll need to pay ordinary income tax and possibly an additional 10 percent penalty on the taxable portion of the loan. Once you’ve left public employment, you aren’t eligible to take a NYSLRS loan.
How Can I Stay Informed About My Membership If I Leave Public Employment?
If you leave public employment, but haven’t ended your NYSLRS membership, you’ll still:
If you’ve accumulated unused, unpaid sick leave, you may be able to use it toward your NYSLRS pension benefit.
New York State employees are eligible for this benefit. You also may be eligible if your employer has adopted Section 41(j) for the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), or 341(j) for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), of Retirement and Social Security Law. Not sure? Ask your employer or check your Member Annual Statement.
Here’s How It Works
Your additional service credit is determined by dividing your total unused, unpaid sick leave days by 260. Most ERS members can get credit for up to 165 days (7½ months) of unused sick leave. The benefit is capped at 100 days (4½ months) for most Tier 6 members. State employees in certain negotiating units may be able to use 200 days (about nine months). Those extra “months” would be used in calculating your retirement benefit.
Also, depending on your employer, your unused sick leave may be used to cover some health insurance costs during your retirement. Please check with your employer for information about health insurance.
Unused sick leave cannot be used to reach NYSLRS retirement milestones. Let’s say you have 19½ years of service credit. At 20 years, your pension calculation would improve substantially. You also have 130 days of unused sick leave. Can you add the six months of sick leave credit to get you to 20 years? No. Retirement law does not permit it. You’ll have to work those extra six months to get the 20-year benefit rate, though sick leave credits can still be used in your final pension calculation.