NYSLRS’ Membership by Tier

NYSLRS, comprised of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), had 652,324 members as of March 31, 2017. Our members are State, local government and school district employees from across New York, including 617,143 in ERS and 35,181 in PFRS. Eighty-one percent of our members are active, which means they were on a public payroll as of March 31.

As new public employees come on board and more Tier 3 and 4 members reach retirement age, Tier 6 is expected to represent the majority of NYSLRS members in a few years.

Tier 6 includes members who joined NYSLRS since April 1, 2012. In just five years, they’ve grown to more than 174,000 members, making up 26.7 percent of total membership.

Here’s a look at our membership by Tier, as of March 31:
NYSLRS' Membership
Tier 1: NYSLRS’ oldest tier, whose members first joined the system before July 1, 1973 (July 31 for PFRS members). Tier 1 now represents only one half of 1 percent of our membership. There are only 54 Tier 1 PFRS members remaining.

Tier 2: With 29,186 members, Tier 2 represents 4.5 percent of membership. More than 87 percent of Tier 2 members are in PFRS.

Tier 3&4: Tiers 3 and 4, which have similar retirement plans, represented nearly 90 percent of membership just seven years ago. The 392,699 Tier 3 and 4 members now make up 60 percent of the total. (Note: There is no Tier 4 in PFRS.)

Tier 5: Tier 5 covers members who joined in a period of a little over two years (January 2010 through March 2012). With 53,118 members, Tier 5 now represents 8.1 percent of membership.

Tier 6: This tier covers both ERS and PFRS members who joined since April 1, 2012. Its ranks have grown by nearly 29 percent over the past year.

7 thoughts on “NYSLRS’ Membership by Tier

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The New York State Constitution protects your NYSLRS pension benefit from being diminished or impaired. Your pension can only be reduced if the Constitution is amended, and one way to do that is through a constitutional convention.

      Every 20 years, a question appears on the ballot asking voters if there should be a convention to revise and amend the constitution. This question will be on the November 7, 2017, general election ballot. If voters approve the convention, delegates would be elected the following November, and the convention would begin in April 2019. Any constitutional changes proposed by the delegates must be approved by the voters in the following general election.

      Although there’s no guarantee that a convention would result in changes to public pension benefits, your pension, along with other protections provided by the constitution, could possibly be affected. That is one of several reasons why Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is opposed to the constitutional convention.

  1. Karen

    Why has the Comptroller or the Legislature made no effort to equalize the benefit changed in 2002 when members stopped contributing after 10 years of service? At that time, I believe Tier 1 & 2 members were given extra service credit while Tier 3 & 4 members who had already contributed more than 10 years (some as many as 25 years or more) received no credit, no reimbursement or no compensation for the extra contributions they made. When will this inequity be fixed?????

    1. NYSLRS

      When the Legislature created Tier 3 in 1976 and Tier 4 in 1983, it provided that membership would be contributory. Subsequently, the Legislature approved a bill, which became Chapter 126 of the Laws of 2000, which eliminated contributions for Tier 3 and 4 members after ten years of credited service or ten years of membership on or after October 1, 2000. There was no provision in the legislation to refund contributions before that date.

      Since Tier 3 had been established in 1976, there are some members who had contributed for more than the 10 years. There has been legislation proposed since 2000 to either refund or provide additional benefits for those members who contributed for more than ten years. However, such legislation has not been enacted into law.

      1. Richard Lenaghen

        I was a tier 3 member and contributed over 12 years into the retirement system. Tier 3’s should all let their voices be heard ! If you are a tier 3 member and paid into the retirement past 10 years , we are owed a refund plus accrued interest for the extra we paid into the retirement system.

  2. Michael Rock

    I was a tier 3 member ( now retired as a tier 4) that paid 20 years into the system. For the life of me I could never understand the logic behind compensating Tier1 and Tier 2 member’s (who never contributed) with an extra 2 years service credit for shutting off the contributions for tier 3 and tier 4 at 10 years while offering no compensation or service credit for those that contributed over 10 years. Right, Tier 3 member should make their voices heard, we should receive a refund for the extra years paid or additional service time added to our pension commensurate with the overpayment.

  3. Karen Clark

    I am a Retired State employee with 32.5 years of service combined County and State years.
    I retired as a Tier 3 having “contributed” for 1 payperiod short of 20 years when the law changed to stop contributions after 10 years. I have received NOTHING for my additional close to 10 years of extra contributions. I have complained to everyone – my coworkers, my PEF stewards, my legistlators. I get the same answer all the time – there’s nothing we can do about it. Except for 1 steward who let me know that PEF did have something on the Legal committee to work for a compensation of added service time for us in this position – yet they continue to NOT make it a priority AND I recall the compensation was still less than what Tier 1 & 2 received for NEVER contributing at all. I’m guessing they’re waiting for all of us to die off or retire and then only apply it those who are still working and retire after they get their act together and finally pass something. They claim it is too much of a burden on our Retirement System – yet the System is stronger than ever with yearly earnings in the double digits.

    It’s well over due for us Tier 3 to get compensated for our over-contributions and in my view it should be equal to what they gave Tier 1 & 2 .
    If anyone knows who else could help to bring this issue to the fore front, please share. I know there are people who are likely in the same boat as I or even worse.


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