Monthly Archives: June 2014

Comptroller DiNapoli Addresses America’s Retirement Security Crisis

Many Americans At Risk of Retiring With a Lower Standard of Living

Depending on the household, Americans face a “staggering” national retirement savings shortfall that’s between $6.8 and $14 trillion. That was the message New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli delivered during a June 17 Retirement Summit at The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. As Comptroller DiNapoli notes in this video, retirement insecurity is among the most important and pressing social and economic challenges Americans now face.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, now valued at $176.2 billion, is one of the best funded State retirement plans in the country. At the summit, Comptroller DiNapoli reiterated that well-funded and well-managed defined benefit plans like those of the New York State & Local Retirement System are affordable and sustainable for the long term and serve as an example of how a good pension plan can work, and not just for public employees. Americans nonetheless face what he calls a “staggering” crisis of retirement insecurity.

Retirement Statistics Tell The Story

Comptroller DiNapoli pointed out the following sobering statistics:

How to Address A Complex and Growing Problem?

According to the Comptroller, though recently proposed initiatives, such as Senator Tom Harkin’s Retirement Fund s Act and President Barack Obama’s MyRA, are encouraging, it’s unlikely that any comprehensive federal legislation is going to be passed anytime soon. Comptroller DiNapoli believes that any proposed solution to this problem, whether at the state or federal level, must include a vehicle that provides ease of enrollment, protects principal, has low cost fees and provides for some level of guaranteed income in retirement. “The one thing we can’t do,” he stressed, “is stand still.”

Retirement Planning – Getting Your NYSLRS Retirement Estimate

When it comes to retirement planning, it’s vital to get informed about your NYSLRS retirement plan, but also to make sure your records with NYSLRS are up to date. Keeping your records current, like your public employment history or who your beneficiary should be, helps us provide you with more accurate information about your retirement benefit. One way we do this is with a NYSLRS retirement estimate, an essential step of retirement planning. The NYSLRS retirement estimate provides you with an estimation of what your pension could be based on a retirement date of your choosing and the information we have on file for you.

Preparing for Retirement: Part Three – Request a NYSLRS Retirement Estimate

The Preparing for Retirement 7-part video series discusses the main aspects of retirement planning to help NYSLRS members nearing retirement make good, informed decisions for the future. In Part Three – Request an Estimate, you’ll learn what form you need to fill out to request a NYSLRS retirement estimate and what information you’ll receive about your estimated benefits. As you’ll see in the following video, having a NYSLRS retirement estimate can help you decide how ready you are for retirement.

Important Links for Retirement Planning

Where to Find More Retirement Planning Information

If you are close to retirement and have more questions, consider scheduling an appointment to meet with an information representative at one of NYSLRS’ consultation sites in New York State. Don’t forget to check back for the rest of the Preparing for Retirement video series, which includes retirement planning topics like:

  • Personal financial planning during retirement
  • How divorce may affect your pension
  • Filing your retirement application
  • Choosing the option of how your pension will be paid

How Divorce Affects Your NYSLRS Benefit

If you get divorced you should be aware that, in a decision called Majauskas v. Majauskas, the New York State Court of Appeals determined that retirement benefits earned during a marriage are marital property, which means that, in the event of a divorce, your ex-spouse may be entitled to a share of your benefit.

Here are some ways the division of your retirement benefit can take place:

  • Your ex-spouse could receive a portion of your pension
  • Your ex-spouse could be named a beneficiary of any pre-retirement death benefit payable
  • You may need to choose a retirement option that on your death, provides a monthly benefit to your ex-spouse
  • Your ex-spouse could receive a portion of your Cost-of-Living Adjustment

However, the division of your retirement benefit needs to be in the form of a domestic relations order (DRO ) — a court order that gives us specific instructions on how your benefits should be distributed. Once we approve your DRO, it must be signed by a trial court judge and entered with the appropriate court clerk. We require a certified copy of the signed DRO and a copy of your judgment of divorce prior to implementing the terms of the DRO. Payments will start when your retirement benefit is calculated and finalized, and will be retroactive to your date of retirement if we receive the DRO and judgment of divorce before your retirement benefit is finalized.

Remember — a DRO is not to be confused with a judgment of divorce or separation agreement. It is not the same. The DRO is a separate court document which, once accepted by NYSLRS, is legally binding on us. Please read our Guide to Domestic Relations Orders before you finalize your divorce.

Significantly, the DRO won’t distribute any portion of your pension until you actually retire, die or terminate your NYSLRS membership.

Drafting Your NYSLRS DRO

The parties may draft their own DRO or create one using our DRO template. Submissions received using the NYSLRS’ template are given priority review. Please fill out the template completely. Once you have created a proposed DRO, please print a copy and submit it, along with a copy of your judgment of divorce, to our NYSLRS Matrimonial Bureau for review.

Our Matrimonial Bureau will provide an interpretation of your proposed DRO before you submit the draft DRO to the court. If the DRO cannot be implemented by NYSLRS, you will have a chance to make revisions.

Still have some questions? Our Divorce and Your Benefits FAQs may be helpful. Otherwise, you can always email us at

The Top 5 Retirement Myths And Their Impact On Your Benefit

NYSLRS Members Would Be Wise to Avoid These Misconceptions

Retirement laws and procedures can be confusing. Sometimes even a small misunderstanding can have a big impact on your benefit. That’s why we feel it’s important to correct certain misconceptions that NYSLRS members have had over the years. The following are five of the most common myths:

Myth #1 My NYSLRS loan has gone into default and I have already paid taxes on it, so that means my loan has been satisfied and I no longer need to repay it.

Fact Not only does your loan still need to be repaid, but it continues to accrue interest. Since you cannot pay off your loan once you retire, an outstanding loan at retirement will permanently reduce your benefit. However, it does not prohibit you from filing for or receiving your pension.

Myth #2 I am required to contribute toward my pension. When I retire, my benefit will be based on what I have contributed to NYSLRS.

Fact Your member contributions are not a factor in the calculation of your pension. Your pension is based primarily on your service credit and the salary you earned when you were an active member. Other factors that may play a role in the calculation include your retirement plan and your age at retirement. In addition, if you have any outstanding loan balance when you retire, it will permanently reduce your retirement benefit.

Myth #3 I cannot collect my pension until I start receiving Social Security.

Fact You can collect your pension as soon as you meet the eligibility requirements of your retirement plan. Most members in regular retirement plans can retire as early as age 55. You should check the eligibility requirements for your tier when planning for your retirement.

Myth #4 If I am vested, off payroll and no longer working for a public employer, NYSLRS will automatically start paying me my pension as soon as I meet eligibility requirements.

Fact Since only you can decide when retirement is right for you, in order to begin collecting your pension benefits, you must file an Application for Service Retirement (RS6037).

Myth #5 I recently applied for retirement by giving my employer the paperwork.

Fact Giving your employer your retirement paperwork does not mean that you have filed for retirement and will receive your benefits. To apply for your NYSLRS benefits, you must file your retirement application form with the Office of the State Comptroller. For a form to be considered as “filed with the Comptroller,” it must be received by our Albany office, one of our consultation sites, or another office of the State Comptroller.

Have a concern that wasn’t covered? You can always email us from the Contact Us page of our website.