NYSLRS loans are paid back through
payroll deductions, which are taken out of your paycheck by your employer. During
the five-year period, we’ll periodically review your remaining loan balance. If
your current payroll deduction amount won’t be enough to pay off your loan
within the required timeframe, we’ll notify your employer to increase your
payroll deduction. We do this to make sure you can repay your loan on time.
Generally, the increase of your
payroll deduction will be small. Your increase could be more significant if,
for example, you go on leave without pay and need to make up any missed
Once you pay your loan in full,
we’ll notify your employer to stop taking payroll deductions.
How You Can Adjust Payroll Deductions
You can sign in to your Retirement Online account or call our automated phone line to check your outstanding loan balance. Knowing your outstanding loan balance can help you determine how to adjust your payroll deductions if you want to pay off your loan sooner. Please visit our website for more information about repaying your NYSLRS loan.
After we receive your application, we will send you a
confirmation letter, which lists your retirement date and the forms we’ve
received from you. If you don’t submit a W-4P, we’ll withhold federal taxes
based on the status “married with three dependents.” (You can change your
withholding at any time.)
If you haven’t received an estimate in the past 18 months,
you don’t need to send an option election form with your retirement
application. We’ll send you an estimate, along with an option election form,
after we receive your retirement application.
Your First Payment
Your monthly payments will be based on the salary and
service information we have on file.
We cannot send your first payment until we have proof of
your date of birth. If you can, you should submit this document with your retirement
application. (A copy of your New York driver’s license, birth certificate,
passport or naturalization papers are acceptable proofs.) If you don’t have
proof of date of birth available when you submit your retirement application,
you can email us a photocopy by attaching it to our secure contact form.
We encourage you to sign up for direct deposit,
so you’ll have safe and reliable access to your pension payments on the last
business day of each month. Paper checks are mailed on the second to
last business day of each month and may take longer to receive.
If we receive additional payroll information from your
employer, such as eligible lump sum payments, a retroactive pay increase or
lagged regular earnings, we may need to adjust your pension payment. Because of
the many variables that are often involved in verifying service and salary
details with your former employer, finalizing your retirement benefit amount
can take some time. The time this takes depends on the complexity of the circumstances.
For example, if you worked for multiple public employers, it may take longer to
pull together all your income information.
Once we have all the information we need, we’ll recalculate
your pension amount. If your payment increases, you will receive a retroactive
payment for the amount you are owed back to your date of retirement (the
difference between your initial payments and your final retirement benefit
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
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
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
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.
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.
Today’s post looks at Tier 2 in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). A majority of PFRS members are in Tier 2, which began on July 31, 1973 and ended on June 30, 2009. Most Police and Fire Retirement System members are in “special” retirement plans that allow for retirement after 20 or 25 years, regardless of age, without penalty.
The special plans that cover municipal police officers and firefighters fall under Sections 384, 384(f), 384-d, and 384-e of Retirement and Social Security Law. As of March 31, 2018, there were 17,380 Tier 2 members in these plans; most of whom are covered by either Section 384-d (36.5 percent) or 384-e (62.8 percent).
Check out the graphic below for the basic retirement information for PFRS Tier 2 members.
NYSLRS pension payment options are designed to fit your needs after you retire. Understanding these options will make it easier for you to choose the one that’s right for you.
While the basic option, the Single Life Allowance, would provide you with a monthly payment for the rest of your life, all payments would end at your death. Other options, in exchange for a reduced benefit, allow you to provide for a spouse or other loved one after you’re gone.
Five and Ten Year Certain options don’t provide a lifetime benefit for a beneficiary, but they have advantages you may want to consider.
How These Pension Payment Options Work
The Five Year Certain or Ten Year Certain options provide you with a reduced monthly benefit for your lifetime. If you die within the five- or ten-year period after your retirement, your beneficiary would receive pension payments for the remainder of the five or ten years. If you live beyond the five- or ten-year period, your beneficiary would not receive a pension benefit upon your death.
Let’s say you choose the Five Year option. If you die two years after retiring, your beneficiary will receive a benefit for three years. If you choose the Ten Year option, and die after two years, your beneficiary will get a benefit for eight years. In either case, your beneficiary would receive the same amount you were receiving, though they would not be eligible for any COLA increases.
Another feature of these plans is that you can change the beneficiary at any time within the five- or ten-year period.
Whatever your situation, you should review the payment options and choose carefully. Visit our Payment Option Descriptions page for details about all available pension payment options. For a better idea of how these payment options would work out for you and your beneficiary, try our online Benefit Calculator.
Retirement comes too soon for some people. Poor health, an injury, family situations, layoffs and other unforeseen circumstances could force you into an unplanned retirement.
You may already have a plan based on the date you would like to retire, but do you have a backup plan if that date comes a few years earlier than expected?
Know Your Benefits
As a NYSLRS member, you’re entitled to benefits that may help. Most vested members can begin collecting a lifetime pension as early as age 55, though your benefit may be permanently reduced if you retire before full retirement age. (Full retirement age for NYSLRS members is either 62 or 63, depending on your tier. Full retirement age for Social Security benefits depends on your year of birth.)
Doing your homework is important. The more you understand the potential benefits available to you, the better you can estimate your income if you are forced to retire early. Unfortunately, the numbers you come up with may not be enough when dealing with an unplanned retirement.
But one potential source of income can make a big difference: retirement savings. Your savings could help you get by until you are eligible to collect your NYSLRS pension or another retirement benefit. If you are not saving for retirement, consider starting now. And if you are saving, consider increasing your savings. It could become a lifeline if the unexpected happens.
Passwords may be used indefinitely as long as they’re strong and have not been compromised. Obviously, if you have an account with a company that just had a data breach, you’ll want to change that password.
Other Ideas on Secure Passwords
Changing passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days was recommended for thwarting hackers, but some security experts now question that tactic. Changing passwords on a regular schedule may have little security value and can lead to bad habits. Research has shown that people tend to make only minor changes when updating their passwords or create weak passwords that are easier for them to memorize. You’re better off creating a strong password, memorizing it and holding on to it.
While NIST has changed some of its guidelines, some of the old ones still apply. Don’t share your secure passwords with anyone, or leave them on sticky notes by your computer. Create unique passwords for important accounts, such as your bank account and your email, and avoid bad passwords such as “password,” “12345678,” “qwerty” and “iloveyou.”
We’ve started distributing the 2019 Member Annual Statements (MAS) to more than 600,000 NYSLRS members. The process is done in stages over six to eight weeks. School employees receive their statements first; most others should see theirs by mid-July.
Your MAS contains important information about your NYSLRS membership, including your reported salary, service credit and beneficiaries. Depending upon your circumstances, you may also see projected annual benefits, loan balances or past service account balances.
When You Receive Your Statement
Be sure to review the information in your MAS carefully. If you need to update your beneficiaries or change your address, email or phone number, you can use Retirement Online — our convenient and secure self-service tool. You can contact us to correct most errors, but if you have a question about your reported salary, please ask your employer.
The information in your statement is valuable year-round; after you check it over, file your MAS away securely. It’s very likely you’ll reference it again in the future.
Member ID Cards
Your statement also includes a member identification card, with both your registration number and NYSLRS ID number. As we complete our series of computer upgrades, we will phase out the old registration numbers and keep just the NYSLRS IDs.
As identity theft becomes more and more prevalent, please help us protect you and your personal information. Reference either your registration or NYSLRS ID number — not your Social Security number — whenever you contact us.
When you receive your statement, be sure to clip out your ID card. Keep it in a secure but easily accessible place, so you’ll always have your numbers handy.
Earlier this month, NYSLRS finished a series of computer system upgrades to improve the services available to our customers. Retirement Online was unavailable during the upgrade period, but it is now once again available to NYSLRS members, retirees and beneficiaries.
View benefit information. You don’t need to rely on your annual statement or call our Contact Center. With Retirement Online, you can review up-to-date information about your account when it’s convenient for you.
Update contact information. Change your address, phone number or email address online instead of calling or emailing. If you submitted an address change form during the upgrade, we are processing those now.
View or update beneficiaries. It’s a good idea to keep your beneficiary designations up to date. View your selections and submit changes instantly. If you submitted a paper beneficiary designation form during the upgrade, your beneficiary change is effective as of the date we received it, however, updates may not appear in your Retirement Online account until your form is processed.
Apply for a loan. You may be eligible to take out a loan against your NYSLRS contributions. Do it safely and conveniently with Retirement Online. If you submitted a loan application during the upgrade, we are processing those now.
Generate an income verification letter. Sometimes a business or government agency requires you to verify your pension income. Generate and print an official income verification letter any time you need one.
As a result of this spring’s upgrades, we expect to roll out even more features later this year. Members will be able to estimate their pension benefit, purchase service credit and apply for retirement; retirees will get to manage their direct deposit information and more. Stay connected to NY Retirement News for details.