NYSLRS Membership Basics

Whether you just joined or you’re a longtime member, you likely have questions about your NYSLRS membership. What is vesting? What are final average earnings? What tier are you in, and why does it even matter?

NYSLRS Membership

Basic Concepts of NYSLRS Membership

While NYSLRS administers many different retirement plans, the core concepts of our memberships are the same. Your pension will be calculated using a preset formula based on your earnings and years of service. To better understand your NYSLRS benefits, you should become familiar with these four basic concepts:

  • Tier. Your tier is based on the date you joined NYSLRS and helps determine the benefits available to you. If you’re a new NYSLRS member, you’re likely in Tier 6. Tier 6 members joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012.
  • Service Credit. Generally, you earn a year of service credit for each year you work for a participating NYSLRS employer. Part-time work is prorated. Your total service credit at retirement is a major factor in determining the amount of your pension.
  • Vesting. You become vested after you earn five years of service credit. It’s a significant milestone, because once you’re vested, you’re eligible for a NYSLRS pension when you reach retirement age, even if you leave public service.
  • Final Average Earnings. Final average earnings are the average of your earnings during the period when your pay is highest. It’s another major factor in determining the amount of your pension.

Your NYSLRS Pension and Other Benefits

As a NYSLRS member, you are part of a defined benefit retirement plan. This means your NYSLRS pension will be a lifetime benefit based on your final average earnings and service credit, not on the contributions you make toward your retirement.

Your NYSLRS membership also provides other important benefits, including:

More Information

We want to make sure you have the information you’ll need to plan for your retirement and make critical decisions about your future. Here are some resources available to you:

Retirement Online is the quickest way to access account information such as your tier, retirement plan and estimated total service credit. If you don’t already have one, sign up for a Retirement Online account now.

Explore the NYSLRS website to learn more about your NYSLRS membership. Our Welcome New Members page explains more about the benefits that are available to you. Your retirement plan publication offers a comprehensive overview of your benefits, and you can find it with our Find Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan Publication tool.

If you have questions about your account or your NYSLRS benefits, please message us using our secure contact form.

13 thoughts on “NYSLRS Membership Basics

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs. Please contact your employer’s health benefits administrator for questions about post-retirement coverage.


    Our HR Dept has told some of us that the Health Insurance Opt out buy back income is pensionable. I don’t believe it is as it’s time paid not worked. Can you clarify if it is or isn’t pensionable?

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You can find information about which payments are pensionable in your retirement plan publication.
      If you still have questions we recommend you message our customer service representatives using our secure contact form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Most members get their first pension payment at the end of the month following their retirement date. However, certain situations may delay your first payment. If you have not submitted your proof of date of birth or pension payment option form, or if you have a domestic relations order on file, your first payment may be delayed.

      You may be interested in the retirement timeline on our website. It shows the steps you’ll need to take and highlights topics and information you’ll need to consider as you prepare for retirement.

  2. Angela Joy

    I applied for a loan. What is an estimated time on when I may receive my funds? I called the 866# and it said up to 24 months??? That doesn’t seem reasonable.

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The average processing time for a loan application is four-to-six weeks.

      You can check the status of your loan by signing in to your Retirement Online account. The status of your application may remain in “New” or “Open” during the 4- 6 weeks it takes to process. Once the case status of the Loan Application case is “Closed”, your check will be in the mail the following Monday.

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs for its retirees. The New York State Department of Civil Service administers the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) for New York State retirees and some municipal retirees. You can call them at 800-833-4344 or 518-457-5754 or email them at pio@cs.ny.gov.If you retired from a public employer that did not participate in NYSHIP, you may wish to contact your former employer’s benefits administrator.


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