Most of us will change jobs over our lifetimes, and some of us will leave public employment before retirement. But if you leave the public workforce, what will become of your NYSLRS retirement benefits?
NYSLRS has published a booklet to provide guidance in that situation. What If I Leave Public Employment? outlines what happens with your benefits and details your rights and responsibilities. If you recently left public employment or plan to leave in the future, here are some key points the publication can help you understand.
If You Leave Public Employment, Will You Still Get a Pension?
If you’re vested, you can still collect a NYSLRS pension when you reach retirement age. Members in Tiers 1 – 4 become vested after five years of service; members in Tiers 5 and 6 become vested after ten years. Most members can apply for a pension as early as age 55, but their pension may be reduced if they take it before full retirement age (62 or 63).
What if You End Your Membership?
If you’re not vested, you can end your membership and get a refund of your contribution balance, which includes accumulated interest. After you have been off the public payroll for 15 days, you can request a refund by filing a withdrawal application.
If you don’t withdraw your contributions, they will continue to earn 5 percent interest for seven years. If you’re still off the public payroll after seven years, your membership will automatically end. Your contributions will be deposited into a non-interest account but will not be refunded to you automatically. You must file a withdrawal application to receive them.
If you end your membership, you will no longer be eligible for any NYSLRS benefits. There may also be tax consequences to withdrawing your contributions.
What are Your Responsibilities?
If you leave public employment, but remain a member, it’s your responsibility to notify us of any address changes. You will also need to keep your beneficiary information current.
Please read What If I Leave Public Employment? to get the full story on leaving public employment.