Monthly Archives: April 2014

Retirement Planning – The First Step Is Getting Informed

Are you getting into a retirement state of mind? The last few years of your public employment career is the perfect time to start retirement planning. You’ll be asking important questions like when you will be eligible to retire or what type of New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) pension benefit option will best suit you, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you take the time to learn about your NYSLRS retirement plan and the benefits available to you, the transition from employment to retirement should go smoothly.

Preparing for Retirement: Part One – Information is the Key

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 One – Information is the Key, you’ll take a walk through the NYSLRS website, learning about the different publications and retirement planning tools available to you. As you’ll see in the video, knowing where to find retirement information is just the first step in preparing 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, or you could schedule a phone consultation instead. Don’t forget to check back for the rest of the Preparing for Retirement video series, which includes retirement planning topics like:

  • Service credit
  • Requesting a retirement benefit estimate
  • 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

Choosing the Option of How Your Pension Will Be Paid

When It Comes to Retirement, This Could Be One of The Most Important Financial Decisions You’ll Make

Getting ready to retire? If you are a New York State & Local Retirement System member (NYSLRS), one of the most important things you’ll do is to decide how your retirement benefit will be paid. You do that by choosing a pension payment option.

Choose the Pension Payment Option That Will Best Meet Your Needs

There are several options from which to choose and all of them provide you with a monthly benefit for life. You may elect to have your retirement benefit paid to you as a Single Life Allowance (Option 0). This will provide you with the maximum amount payable during your lifetime, with nothing payable to your beneficiaries upon death. Or, you may elect to receive a smaller monthly benefit to provide for a possible payment to a designated beneficiary after your death.

Since choosing an option is not a decision to be made lightly, you may want to consider the following:

Does your beneficiary have other income?

Is your beneficiary receiving his or her own pension? How much Social Security benefits does he or she get? Does your beneficiary have an Individual Retirement Account or a Deferred Compensation Plan?

Do you have life insurance coverage?

Remember to factor in payments from any life insurance you may have. They can help your beneficiary make ends meet.

What are your financial obligations?

List the monthly expenses your beneficiary might have if you die. Is there a mortgage payment, car loan, other loans or obligations? Excluding your pension, will your beneficiary’s income be enough to cover all the expenses?

Answering these three questions will help you determine which option best meets your needs. You may want to consult your retirement plan booklet to help you with your choice. You may also want to consult with a financial advisor before making your option selection.

One Other Important Thing to Remember…

You must file your Option Election Form before the first day of the month following your retirement date. Though you have up to 30 days after your pension benefit becomes payable to change your selection, once the deadline has passed, you cannot change your option.

(If you are a disability retiree, you may change your option selection up to 30 days after your disability application is approved, or up to 30 days after your retirement date, whichever is later.)

Infographic showing size of NYSLRS in three groups: ERS, PFRS, and Pensioners.

A Quick Look at NYSLRS, One of America’s Largest Pension Systems

An Important Historical Footnote

NYSLRS’ membership ledger (1921) showing Thomas Cantwell as the first entry.

NYSLRS’ membership ledger (1921).

Thomas Cantwell’s name might not ring a bell for the average New Yorker, but his place in New York history was cemented long before he passed away on July 20, 1931 at the age of 91.

Born on December 18, 1838, Cantwell worked for the New York State Insurance Fund from 1890 through 1916, after which he became a file clerk for the New York State Office of the State Comptroller, retiring on July 1, 1921. At the time of his retirement, he earned $2,400 per year, which is the equivalent of $31,410 today. His retirement benefits amounted to $1,076 per year, or $14,435 today.

As you’ve guessed by now, Cantwell was the first member of The New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and his membership marked the start of a timeline that has stretched more than 90 years.

Key Facts and Figures about NYSLRS Today

Picture of the first NYS Comptroller and the current NYS Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli

New York’s first State Comptroller, Samuel Jones (1797), pictured left, and New York’s current State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli (2014), pictured right.

One of the America’s largest pension systems, NYSLRS is comprised of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), which was established in 1921 and currently has more than 612,294 members, and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), which was created in 1966 and has more than 35,100.

The fiduciary and administrative head of the pension system is New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The Comptroller acts solely in the best interests of the System’s members and retirees and ensures that the 346 different benefit programs offered by NYSLRS are managed properly and effectively.

ERS provides service and disability retirement benefits, as well as death benefits to employees of participating public employers in non-teaching positions, exclusive of New York City. This includes uniformed services personnel, such as correction officers and sheriffs.

PFRS provides service and disability retirement benefits, as well as death benefits to police officers and firefighters who work for participating public employers, exclusive of New York City.

In addition to members, there are more than 440,900 pensioners and beneficiaries in the System bringing the total to more than 1,088,342 participants, as of March 31, 2016.

NYSLRS’ Core Purpose Remains

NYSLRS’ mission hasn’t changed since the days when Mr. Cantwell was working. Whether we’re talking about that inaugural class of 1921 or the more than one million members and retirees of today, NYSLRS seeks to fulfill New York State’s promise of secure retirement benefits to enable members, retirees and beneficiaries to plan for a more financially secure retirement. Perhaps most important of all, as a NYSLRS member or retiree, your pension system benefits are guaranteed under the New York State Constitution.