With two retirement systems, six tiers and 346 retirement plan combinations, it’s quite possible that the NYSLRS benefit information your coworker is talking about may not apply to you. That’s why, periodically, we like to clear up some common misconceptions we hear from members and retirees. Here are our top five retirement myths from 2016.
“NYSLRS can change the rules determining pension contributions and retirement benefits.”
We can’t. The contributions you make and the benefits you enjoy are dictated by law — as passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. NYSLRS administers these programs.
This is also true for retirement incentives; the decision to offer an incentive comes from the Legislature and the Governor. Individual employers, like your town or police department, may decide to offer their own incentives to employees, but these do not affect a member’s NYSLRS pension benefits.
“Your final average salary (FAS) is based on the years immediately preceding your retirement”
While the number of years used to calculate your FAS varies by tier and plan, they aren’t limited to your final years of employment. We look at your entire employment history while you were a member of NYSLRS to find the consecutive years when you earned the most, and those years are used in the calculation for your FAS. For more information, visit our website.
“NYSLRS membership ends when you stop working for a NYSLRS participating employer.”
Even when you leave public employment before you’re eligible to retire, you’re still a NYSLRS member. If you’re vested, you will be eligible for a pension benefit once you reach the retirement age specified by your plan. If you’re not vested, your contributions stay with NYSLRS and continue to earn 5 percent interest for seven years. If you leave public employment with less than 10 years of service, you can end your NYSLRS membership and request a refund of your retirement contributions.
What else happens when you leave public employment? Check out your plan publication to learn more about your benefits. You can also visit our website for more information.
“You can’t make extra payments to pay off a NYSLRS loan faster.”
You can make additional payments or pay your loan in full at any time, with no prepayment penalties. For the payoff balance on your loan, call our automated phone service (1-866-805-0990 or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area and press 3 for members; then 1 or 2 for the Employees’ Retirement System or the Police and Fire Retirement System; and then 1 for loan services). For more information, visit Loans: Getting One and Paying it Back.
“If Call Center lines are busy, there’s no way to get benefit information.”
Even when the Call Center phone lines are busy, our automated phone system can help members and retirees with a number of tasks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Press 3 for Member Services, which includes current loan balance and application status information.
Press 4 for Retiree/Beneficiary Services, which includes COLA eligibility and federal tax withholding information.
Press 6 for Other Services, which includes requesting forms by fax.
Another way to get benefit information is to visit the Contact Us page on our website, which has answers to many commonly asked questions. You can also email us using our secure email form.
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