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.
NYSLRS is actually two retirement systems: The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS).
PFRS, which provides retirement benefits for police officers and paid firefighters, is the smaller of the two systems, with about 35,000 members. Roughly a third of PFRS members work for cities, while 20 percent work for New York State. The remainder work for towns, counties and villages.
There are five tiers in PFRS, reflecting when the members joined the system: Tiers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 (there is no Tier 4). Tier 2, which includes PFRS members who joined the Retirement System from July 31, 1973 through June 30, 2009, is the largest tier, accounting for almost 60 percent of membership. If you joined PFRS on or after April 1, 2012, you are in Tier 6.
The vast majority of PFRS members (98 percent) are in special retirement plans that allow for retirement after 20 or 25 years of creditable service. If you are in one of these plans, once you have the full amount of required service, you can retire at any age.
Some PFRS members are in regular retirement plans, which require a member to reach a certain age before they are eligible for a pension.
As a PFRS member, you’ll pass a series of important milestones throughout your career. Knowing and understanding these milestones will help you better plan for your financial future.
Service credit is a key in determining your eligibility for a pension and other benefits, including the amount of those benefits.
Under most 20- and 25-year plans, not all public employment is creditable. Usually, police and firefighting service can be counted as special-plan service. You may also be able to use military service to help you reach 20 or 25 years. If you have questions about the service that can be used to calculate your pension, please check your retirement plan booklet or contact us.
PFRS Plan Booklets
You can find details about your NYSLRS benefits in your retirement plan booklet.
For the majority of PFRS members, that’s the Special 20- and 25-Year Plans booklet. This booklet is for PFRS Tier 2, 3, 5 and 6 members covered by Sections 384, 384-d and 384-e of the State Retirement and Social Security Law.
Tier 6 members (those who joined NYSLRS since April 1, 2012) are eligible for a lifetime pension benefit once they’ve earned 10 years of credited service. And that pension can replace a portion of your salary throughout your retirement.
Your NYSLRS pension will be based on your Final Average Earnings (FAE) and the number of years you work in public service. FAE is the average of the five highest-paid consecutive years. For most members, those higher-paid years come at the end of their careers. Since retirement is still some years in the future for most of you, we won’t focus on the dollar amount of your FAE today. But we can look at what percentage of that salary would be replaced by your pension if you continue in the system until retirement age.
For Tier 6 members of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), the benefit is 1.66 percent of your FAE for each year you work, up to 20 years. (Benefit calculations for members of the Police and Fire Retirement System vary based on plan.) At 20 years, the benefit equals 1.75 percent per year (for a total of 35 percent). After 20 years, the benefit grows to 2 percent per year.
Financial advisers say you will need to replace between 70 to 80 percent of your salary to maintain your lifestyle during retirement. Let’s see how we can get there.
NYSLRS Pension: Say you begin your career at age 30 and work until your full retirement age of 63. That’s 33 years of Service Credit. You’ll get 35 percent of your FAE for the first 20 years, plus 26 percent for the last 13 years, for a total benefit that would replace 61 percent of your salary. If you started at age 25, and continue till 63, you’d get 71 percent of your FAE. If you didn’t start till age 35, you’d still get 51 percent at 63.
Social Security: You also should factor in Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security now replaces about 36 percent of the wages of a typical worker who retires at full retirement age. In the future, it’s estimated that Social Security might still replace between 25 and 30 percent of a typical worker’s pay.
Savings: Retirement savings can also replace a portion of your income. How much, of course, depends on how much you save. The key is to start saving early so your money has time to grow. New York State employees and some municipal employees can participate in the New York State Deferred Compensation Plan. If you haven’t already looked into Deferred Compensation, you might consider doing so now.
The New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) consists of two retirement systems: the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Your job title determines what system you’re in. In some cases, however, it’s possible to have a dual membership, to be a member of both systems.
How Does Dual Membership Work?
Let’s say you work as a firefighter, so you’re a member of PFRS. You decide to take on a part-time job as a bus driver for your local school district. Your school district participates in ERS, so you’re eligible for ERS membership. You fill out the membership application, and now you’re a member of both ERS and PFRS. The date you join each system determines your tier in each membership.
Implications of Dual Membership
As a member of both systems, you’d have separate membership accounts. Let’s look again at our fire-fighting bus driver example. While working as a firefighter, you make any required contributions and earn service credit toward your PFRS pension only. The same is true for your work as a bus driver—your required contributions and earned service credit only go toward your ERS pension, not your PFRS pension.
There are other implications to dual membership. Assuming you’re vested in both memberships and meet the service credit and age requirements, you could retire and collect a pension from both systems. You’d need to file separate retirement applications for ERS and PFRS, and we’d calculate each pension separately. We’d calculate your ERS pension using the final average earnings (FAE) you earned as a bus driver and your PFRS pension using the FAE from your time as a firefighter.
And, since you’d have both an ERS pension and a PFRS pension, you would need to choose a beneficiary for each in the event of your death.
You’ll want to make sure to know the details of your retirement plan in each system. If you have questions about dual membership, or want to discuss your particular situation when you decide to retire, please contact us.
When we first launched Retirement Online, we were proud to provide our members and retirees a new, convenient way to review their benefit information and do business with NYSLRS. But as a result of recent upgrades, Retirement Online now offers a variety of time-saving features that make doing business from home a snap.
What Can You Do in Retirement Online?
Retirement Online gives you an easy and secure way to review your NYSLRS benefit information and conduct transactions in real time. In many cases, you can use Retirement Online instead of sending forms through the mail or calling NYSLRS. Here’s a quick look at some of its features:
Update Contact Information Do you have a new mailing address, email address or phone number? Make sure NYSLRS can get in touch with you by updating your contact information.
Update Your Beneficiary Information You can designate beneficiaries for your death benefits, and also make updates to existing beneficiaries.
Create a Pension Verification Letter or Mortgage Letter If you’re a retiree and need to provide proof of your retirement income, you can generate and print an income verification letter from your account. If you’re a member and need to verify your retirement account information, you can generate and print a mortgage letter when you need it.
Update Your Last Name If you changed your last name recently, you can change it online instead of submitting a Name Change form.
Change Your Correspondence Preference Would you prefer to receive emails from NYSLRS instead of mail? You can update your correspondence preference and receive an email notification from NYSLRS whenever we have updated information to send you. (Please note that some information, such as tax forms, will be sent by mail for security purposes.)
Estimate Your Pension (Members Only) You can estimate your pension benefit based on up-to-date account information, then save or print the estimate for your records.
Manage Loan and Service Credit Payments (Members Only) Need to pay back a loan or purchase service credit? You can adjust your payment amount or make a lump sum payment.
Apply for Retirement Ready to retire? You can file your service retirement application right from home.
Apply for a Loan (Members Only) Eligible members can apply online to take a loan out against their NYSLRS contributions.
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.
When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you’re assigned a tier based on the date of your membership. There are six tiers in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and five in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Each tier has a different benefit structure established by New York State legislation.
Our series, NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time, walks through each tier to give you a quick look at the benefits in both ERS and PFRS. Today’s post looks at PFRS Tier 6. Anyone who joined PFRS on or after April 1, 2012 is in Tier 6. Tier 6 members currently make up about 36 percent of PFRS membership, totaling 12,883 members, making it the second largest tier in PFRS. Check out the graphic below for the basic retirement information.
Where to Find PFRS Tier 6 Information
If you’re a PFRS Tier 6 member, please find your retirement plan publication from the list below for more details about your benefits:
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.
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.
Your final average salary (FAS) is a major factor in your pension benefit calculation. Your FAS is 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.
If you receive a retroactive payment from your employer, it could affect your final average salary. Let’s look at how.
How Retroactive Payments Can Affect Your Benefit
When we calculate your FAS at retirement, retroactive payments are applied to the pay periods when they were earned, not when they were paid. In general, retroactive payments can increase your FAS as long as the time period in which you earned that money is part of the time period your FAS is based on.
Your employer should let us know if you receive a retroactive payment before or after you retire. If you are a State employee who receives a retroactive payment after you retire, we will recalculate your pension automatically; you do not need to notify us. If you receive a retroactive payment from a non-State employer after your pension calculation is finalized, send a letter to our Recalculation Unit in the Benefit Calculations & Disbursement Services Bureau. Please include a copy of your check stub and/or any correspondence you received from your employer. You may also email and upload this information to the Retirement System through our secure contact form.