What Makes Up Your NYSLRS Pension?

Many factors go into the calculation of your NYSLRS pension, but there are three core components that help us determine what your pension will be. They are:

  • Your NYSLRS retirement plan
  • Your Final Average Salary (FAS)
  • Your service credit

We use this information to calculate your retirement benefit – but how does each part fit into that calculation?

Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan

When you first joined NYSLRS, in either the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), you were assigned to a tier. In most cases, if you know your System and tier, you can identify your NYSLRS retirement plan.

Your NYSLRS retirement plan determines the formula we would use to calculate your NYSLRS pension. It also defines, based on your tier and Retirement System, a minimum amount of time you need to work and earn service credit in order to be eligible for retirement. Some retirement plans have more requirements than others, so you should refer to your plan publication for more information.

Final Average Salary (FAS)

At NYSLRS, a Final Average Salary (FAS) is the average of the wages a member earned during a set period of time when his or her earnings were the highest. If you are an ERS or PFRS member in Tiers 1 through 5, we would calculate your FAS using a three-year period; for members in ERS and PFRS Tier 6, we’d use a five-year period. Some PFRS members, if their employer offers it, may be eligible for a one-year period. We will use your FAS, in combination with your age at retirement and your total amount of service credit, to calculate your NYSLRS pension.

There are some restrictions as to what can and can’t be included in a member’s FAS. For instance, for ERS Tier 3, 4 and 5 members, if the earnings in any year included in the FAS period exceed the average of the previous two years of earnings by more than 10 percent, the amount in excess of 10 percent is excluded from the computation.

For ERS and PFRS Tier 1 members, if your date of membership is 6/17/71 or later, the wages* in any 12-month period cannot exceed the earnings in the previous 12-month period by more than 20 percent. Any amount in excess of this will be excluded.

Other FAS limitations you should be aware of include the following:

  • For Tier 2 ERS and PFRS and Tier 3 PFRS members covered by Article 11, the FAS is based on the highest average of wages earned during any three consecutive years. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average of the previous two years by more than 20 percent. Any amount in excess of this will be excluded.
  • For Tier 3 PFRS members covered by Article 14, the FAS is based on the highest average of wages* earned during any three consecutive years. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average of the previous two years by more than 10 percent. Any amount over the 10 percent limit will be excluded.
  • For Tier 5 PFRS members covered by Article 22, the FAS is based on the highest average of wages earned during any three consecutive years. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average of the previous two years by more than 20 percent.
  • For Tier 6 ERS and PFRS members, the FAS is based on the highest average of wages* earned during any five consecutive years. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average of the previous four years by more than 10 percent.

You can find out what earnings go into your FAS by checking the Final Average Salary page on our website or your plan publication. Our publication, Your Retirement Benefits, also features examples on how we’ll determine your FAS.

Service Credit

As a NYSLRS member, by working for an employer who participates with NYSLRS, you earn service credit over the course of your career. For most members who work full-time, it takes 260 workdays per year to equal one year of service credit. Members who work a part-time schedule or in educational settings can refer to their plan publication to see how their service credit is calculated.

Your NYSLRS pension will be directly related to your service credit. Your NYSLRS retirement plan may require you to earn a specific amount of service credit in order to receive your full NYSLRS pension. In other cases, if you retire with less service credit and don’t meet the age requirements of your NYSLRS retirement plan, your NYSLRS pension will be reduced.

Planning Ahead for Your NYSLRS Pension

As you get closer to retirement age, keep an eye on your service credit and FAS. Make sure we have an accurate record of your public employment history so you receive the service credit you’re entitled to. You can check the total amount of service credit you’ve earned in your latest Member Annual Statement. Also, take some time to look into the FAS information for your NYSLRS retirement plan to be aware of any FAS limits.

If you have questions, or want to find out more detailed information about what makes up your NYSLRS pension, please contact us.

 

*Wages include regular salary, overtime, and recurring longevity payments earned within the period used to determine final average salary.

12 thoughts on “What Makes Up Your NYSLRS Pension?

  1. Debra J. Onacki

    How long does the final calculation usually take? I retired 5/29/14 and am still getting the partial payment. Does this mean there could be a problem with the final calculation? Would I be notified if you were lacking any more documentation? I was asked to provide some extra things and that was sent in back in June.
    Thank you very much,
    Debbie Onacki

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Debra, thanks for your question. The average processing time for a final benefit calculation is about four months. However, every retirement case is different, and some may require more time to complete than others. The Retirement System would contact a retiree if any additional information were required to complete the case.

      We’ll be emailing you directly to further address your question. If you have any other retirement questions, you can reach out to us by using the Contact Us page on our website: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/contact_us/index.php.

      Reply
  2. patricia Alheidt

    What is my final salary used to calculate my NYS pension?

    **Comment edited by NYSLRS to remove personal information**

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Patricia, thank you for your question to New York Retirement News.

      Since this is a public information blog, and because we want to protect your personal information, we are unable to discuss the details of your circumstances in this forum. For your protection, we have edited your comment and will instead contact you via email to address your question.

      Reply
  3. Denise

    Question – My original Start Date of employment was 2/10/86 – in Sept of 1995 I was laid off during that time I withdrew from the Pension System not knowing that I would be called back to my same job. My question is, when I was called back my employer reinstated me with a new start date of 7/1/1986 and I’m still in tier 4. I bought all my original time back with a start date from 2/10/1986 from the NYS Pension System. My question is, will I have 30yrs of Service Credit with the NYS Pension System as of 2/10/2016? or does my service date have to match my employers Start Date of 7/1/2016 which would give me 30yrs of Service Credit. And if that’s the case, what happens to the additional months I bought back from the NYS Pension System.

    Sincerely hope I didn’t confuse you.

    Thank you

    Denise

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      You accrue service credit for all of your paid service, including the time from before your date of membership that you bought back, but you don’t accrue service credit for any time periods during which you aren’t paid. If you’re trying to reach 30 years of service, you would have to make up any breaks in service that you’ve had since 7/1/1986.

      Your Member Annual Statement, which we provide to members every summer, should tell you what your total service credit was as of March 31, 2015. This total, again, would include any time you bought back but would not include the time you were laid off, which is not creditable. Your Statement should also include estimates of retirement benefit amounts based on key retirement milestones, such as the age at which we assume you will reach 30 years.

      Reply
  4. patti

    I have been working for 18 but only enrolled in the system 3 or so years ago. I am in Tier 5. My question is whether my retirement benefit will change if I buy back all the time I worked or just the minimum of 10 years required for full vesting?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Your retirement benefit is based, in part, on how much total service credit you have. Purchasing service credit would, in most cases, increase your retirement benefit. For Tier 5 members, your benefit calculation changes significantly when you reach 20 years of service. Please visit your Tier 5 Service Retirement Benefit page for more information on how your service credit affects your benefit.

      You can also visit our Get Credit for All Your Public Service page for more information.

      Reply
  5. Dennis Orlowski

    I’m Tier 4, during my first 10 years while I was contributing, I didn’t contribute anything for 1 pay period because I was on military leave and I wasn’t pay through my employer for just that 1 pay period (ran out of military time/vacation/comp). Does that affect my retirement at all?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      For the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      Use the comment field of the form to ask how much credit you received for that fiscal year. Be sure to explain the full circumstances in case you may be eligible to receive additional service.

      Filling out this secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      Reply
  6. Dewitt Sharp

    I retired Feb. 10, 2016 and don’t have my full payment yet. They said they are still calculating.
    Dewitt Sharp

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We recommend that you send your question your final retirement amount using our secure email form (link below), and note that you are still receiving partial payments after having retired in February 2016. Once received, one of our customer service representatives should forward your inquiry to the right staff person who can handle your request. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely provide you with the member-specific information you need. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      The time it takes to finalize your retirement benefit amount can vary depending on how many incoming requests we’ve received and the complexity of your own circumstances. Once we’ve finalized your benefit, you will receive a retroactive payment of what you are owed back to your date of retirement (the difference between partial payments and your finalized retirement benefit amount).

      http://www.emailNYSLRS.com

      Reply

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