NYSLRS Basics: Pension Payment Options

When you retire, you need to decide how we’ll pay out your retirement benefit. You do that by choosing a pension payment option. Each payment option provides you with a monthly benefit for life. Nine of our payment options let you receive a smaller benefit so you can provide for a beneficiary when you die. There is also an option that pays you the largest amount of your benefit, but pays nothing to a beneficiary.

Read the full descriptions of our payment options on our website.

Payment options

Filing Your Option Election Form

When you’ve decided which payment option you’d like, you need to file an option election form. You must file before the first day of the month following your retirement date. If you file on time, you have 30 days before you receive your first benefit payment to change your payment option. If you miss this deadline, we’re required by law to process your benefit based on the basic retirement benefit listed in your plan. (The Single Life Allowance (Option 0) is the basic retirement benefit for some plans, while the Cash Refund — Contributions (Option ½) is the basic retirement benefit for others. Check your retirement plan publication to see what your options are.)

What To Consider When Choosing A Payment Option

Choosing your payment option is a big decision. Once the 30-day deadline has passed, you can’t change your payment option. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want a payment made to one or more beneficiaries after your death?
  • Do you know about your beneficiary’s future income in retirement? Will your beneficiary receive their own pension? How much will they receive from Social Security benefits or other retirement savings accounts?
  • Do you have life insurance coverage? Life insurance payments could help your beneficiary make ends meet.
  • What are your financial obligations? Will your beneficiary have enough income to cover expenses if you die?

The answers to these questions can help you decide which option meets your needs. If you have any questions, email us from our website.

Would you like to read more NYSLRS Basics posts? Check out our earlier post on when you can retire.

8 thoughts on “NYSLRS Basics: Pension Payment Options

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The average processing time can change depending on how many applications are coming in. In order to get the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form, and one of our representatives can review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

  1. Marie Van Patten RN

    my husband he doesnt need my retirement I can give to my poor needy relatives what shall I do. Please send me if there aare any forms to fill out.

    1. NYSLRS

      When you retire, you must decide how you want your retirement benefit paid. All payment options provide you with a lifetime monthly benefit, but some provide you with a smaller monthly benefit to provide for a possible payment to a designated beneficiary after your death. When you file for retirement, you would designate a beneficiary to receive this benefit. Some options allow you to name more than one beneficiary, and you may designate anyone as your beneficiary – it doesn’t have to be your spouse.

      Also, your Member Annual Statement will be going out within the next few weeks. If your beneficiaries are eligible for a death benefit (a one-time benefit that would be paid if you die before you retire) your statement will tell you who is currently named as the beneficiary(ies). If you need to change your beneficiaries, please complete and send us a new Designation of Beneficiary (RS5127) form.

  2. Dan Zag

    I was told that there is a one time payment choice as one of the options, is that true? The payment is the present value of the lifetime payments.

    1. NYSLRS

      One payment option you may be thinking of is the Cash Refund – Initial Value. This option is for Tier 1 members only. Like all our options, it provides a retiree with a lifetime monthly benefit. If a retiree dies before receiving retirement benefit payments that equal the value of their benefit, the balance of the initial value will be paid to their beneficiary or estate in a lump sum.

      However, if the retiree dies after the full initial value has been paid out, no benefit is payable to their beneficiary.

      Another payment option for certain members who meet eligibility requirements is the partial lump sum (PLS) payment at retirement. A PLS payment is a percentage of the actuarial value of a retiree’s retirement benefit at the time they retire. If the one-time payment is chosen, it permanently reduces their lifetime monthly benefit. You can read more about it in our publication, Partial Lump Sum (PLS) Payment at Retirement — For Eligible Retirement System Members.

  3. Pauline R Lilley

    I am having trouble with my password on the online website and cannot get ahold of anyone to talk with them by phone on either number the message is always there are a high volume of calls.

    1. NYSLRS

      We’ve forwarded your concerns on to one of our Information Representatives so he or she can discuss your concerns with you. We are certain you will be hearing from that unit shortly.


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