Your Pension Fund is Strong
Your Pension is Secure

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic uncertainty as well as a public health emergency. Businesses are struggling, more people are unemployed, and markets are volatile. Yet among all the uncertain news we seem to hear daily, there is something NYSLRS members and retirees can have confidence in: your Retirement System and pension fund are strong and secure.

Since it was established in January 1921, NYSLRS has proven its strength and durability. Over the past century, the Retirement System has weathered the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Dotcom bubble burst of 2001, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and more than a dozen other economic downturns. Each time, NYSLRS recovered and emerged stronger than before.

pension fund

Investing for the Long Term

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds and invests the Retirement System’s assets, has been impacted by this largely unprecedented crisis, but the Fund remains strong. While weighing the risk and benefit of every investment, the Fund employs a diversified investment strategy that is designed for the long-term, allowing it to take advantage of growth opportunities in good times, which helps it to better navigate through hard times.

NYSLRS entered the current crisis in a position of strength. Independent analysts, such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, have long recognized NYSLRS as one of the best-managed and best-funded public retirement systems in the nation. The strength of the Fund provides stability and enhances its ability to recover from market swings.

In recent months, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Fund’s professional managers recognized increased volatility in the stock market. The managers made adjustments in the Fund’s investment portfolio in preparation for an expected economic downturn and are actively managing the Fund through these difficult times. The Fund has more than enough assets to pay retiree benefits.

What This Means for You

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has a fiduciary responsibility to manage the Fund’s assets on behalf of NYSLRS members and retirees. Protecting the Fund is the Comptroller’s number one priority. As a NYSLRS member or retiree, your lifetime retirement benefits are guaranteed by the State constitution, and those benefits cannot be diminished.

NYSLRS continues to be well-positioned to meet both its short-term and long-term obligations. If you are already retired, you will continue to receive your pension payments on schedule. If you are a member, your pension will be there for you when you retire and throughout your retirement years.

We’ve faced similar challenges in the past. We will get through this one.

68 thoughts on “Your Pension Fund is Strong
Your Pension is Secure

  1. Rocco Sagarese

    Thank you for keeping our pension strong and secure we all work many years for this and we are proud to know during this unprecedented time we will continue to be strong and secure. Thank you Rocco sagarese Sr

    Reply
  2. Paul Cook

    So does anyone know the current balance of the pension fund? I believe it stood at $212 billions in January.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      As of Dec. 31, 2019 (third quarter results), the estimated value of the Fund was $225.9 billion. The fourth quarter Fund value has not yet been released. 

      Reply
  3. Theresa Vanalstyne

    Is it true that $50 million from the pension fund is being loaned to small businesses? And if so, Who made that decision & why aren’t the members a part of that?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $50 million announcement is not a new investment for the Fund. It is a continuation of an existing program begun in 1987 and in partnership with the NY Business Development Corp., now renamed as Pursuit Lending. The Comptroller’s office and the Fund have a long relationship with Pursuit having provided funds for business loans to help more than 1,000 qualifying New York businesses in all 62 counties retain jobs and expand. It is a positive for New York when we can get a safe, consistent return on an investment (returns to the Fund will be consistent with U.S. Treasury securities) and at the same time do something good for our state. We have high investment standards, which is why we are among the best funded of all state pension plans in the nation. For more information about the Fund’s investment strategies, please visit our website.

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS Post author

        The $50 million loan program for small businesses is not a new investment for the Fund. It is a continuation of an existing program begun in 1987 and in partnership with the NY Business Development Corp., now renamed as Pursuit Lending.

        It is a positive for New York when we can get a safe, consistent return on an investment and at the same time do something good for our state. We have high investment standards, which is why we are among the best funded of all state pension plans in the nation. For more information about the Fund’s investment strategies, please visit our website.

        Reply
  4. jim

    Why is the Comptroller, as the funds fiduciary, offering low nterest loaens to at risk businesses? Even if they manage to repay the loans, the returns are likely to be de minius. The likelihood of repayment seems pretty sketchy. In light of this, how is this consistent with the Comptroller’s fiduciary duty to the system’s beneficiaries? It sends purely political. We need an independent administrator to eliminate the political misuse of the retirement funds. Maybe a class action suit is in order if this continues.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $50 million announcement is not a new investment for the Fund. It is a continuation of an existing program begun in 1987 and in partnership with the NY Business Development Corp., now renamed as Pursuit Lending. The Comptroller’s office and the Fund have a long relationship with Pursuit having provided funds for business loans to help more than 1,000 qualifying New York businesses in all 62 counties retain jobs and expand. It is a positive for New York when we can get a safe, consistent return on an investment and at the same time do something good for our state. We have high investment standards, which is why we are among the best funded of all state pension plans in the nation.

      The fund gets a guaranteed return at a premium of Treasuries for providing the capital to Pursuit, which administers the program through banks across New York State. Each company is vetted and there is zero risk to the Fund because of the federal guarantees. This is a win-win for the pension fund and for New York small businesses trying to survive through these challenging times.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The Governor has not taken any money from the Pension Fund.

      The Pension Fund cannot be used by the Governor or the Legislature for budget relief. In the past, every State comptroller has blocked an attempt to use the Fund as source of money for the State. No one is trying to divert money from the Fund at this time, but if there is such an attempt, Comptroller DiNapoli will fight it.

      If you are referring to the $50 million loan program for small businesses, this is not a new investment for the Fund. It is a continuation of an existing program begun in 1987 and in partnership with the NY Business Development Corp., now renamed as Pursuit Lending. The Comptroller’s office and the Fund have a long relationship with Pursuit having provided funds for business loans to help more than 1,000 qualifying New York businesses in all 62 counties retain jobs and expand. It is a positive for New York when we can get a safe, consistent return on an investment (returns to the Fund will be consistent with U.S. Treasury securities) and at the same time do something good for our state. We have high investment standards, which is why we are among the best funded of all state pension plans in the nation. For more information about the Fund’s investment strategies, please visit our website.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The Pension Fund cannot be used by the Governor or the Legislature for budget relief. In the past, every State comptroller has blocked an attempt to use the Fund as source of money for the State. No one is trying to divert money from the Fund at this time, but if there is such an attempt, Comptroller DiNapoli will fight it.

      Reply
      1. Beth Burch

        I remember when Mario Cuomo took money from NYSRS to balance the budget, and what a hullabaloo that caused. NYSRS saw it to the end in the courts anf NYSRS got their money back, plus interest, if I’m not mistaken.
        Laws were changed, and no one, even Governor can touch that money.
        My dad retired from NYSThruway, he’s passed now, but I too, retired from NYSOffice of Mental Health. Retired 27 years now.
        It’s alway good to read about how healthy the find is. And I thank you for being such great stewards of our money.
        And I think it’s great that the loan program exists. Helps the neighbours, and we still get a return on the money…. Thank you again…

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          Correct, the Pension Fund cannot be used by the Governor or the Legislature for budget relief. No one is trying to divert money from the Fund at this time, but you can be assured that if there is such an attempt, Comptroller DiNapoli will fight it.

          Reply
  5. M.

    What happens to our retirements if the state has to declare bankruptcy because of their budget deficit, as suggested by some federal senators?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds and invests the NYSLRS assets used to pay pensions, is completely independent of the New York State budget. The Pension Fund cannot be used for NYS budget relief.

      Reply
  6. Deborah Makowski

    Thank you for protecting our pension fund . Looking forward to retirement early 2021 after 45 years of service.

    Reply
    1. Diane C.

      Deborah M. I hope you enjoy your retirement as much as I am. I have had no problems with getting my retirement benefits at all. I have not worried about receiving my benefit at all through this pandemic.

      Reply
  7. Jeff

    How about putting this out on Facebook because there is a story going around that the Governor is taking the money to do what he wants with it

    Reply
  8. Frances Page

    Please make sure we have our pensions intact. Social security alone will not cover retirement.

    Reply
  9. Carol Bratton

    Just want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli and his staff for giving retirees a peace of mind during these very worrisome times. Continue your excellent work and be safe.

    Reply
  10. Kenn

    What we can do to block the attempt by some in the legislature to use the fund’s investments as a tool to forward their political agenda? The fund’s investments strategy should be based solely on getting the best rate of return in a mix of investments to keep the fund stable and not to make a political statement (regardless of whether we agree with it or not).

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The Pension Fund cannot be used by the Governor or the Legislature. In the past, every State comptroller has blocked an attempt to use the Fund as a source of money for the State. No one is trying to divert money from the Fund, but if there is such an attempt, Comptroller DiNapoli will fight it.

      Comptroller DiNapoli is the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds the assets of the Retirement System on behalf of members, retirees and beneficiaries. We have high investment standards, which is why we are among the best funded of all state pension plans in the nation.

      Reply
  11. Susan Parrotte

    Was fortunate to work in a program that enabled me to raise a family, still be self supporting
    as a widow and have a home. The system has been good to me and my now late husband.

    Reply
  12. Larry Payne

    Thank you, Mr. DiNapoli – for all that you do…you are absolutely the right man for the job, because under your leadership the state pension fund remains stable, during the worst economic times in our country’s history. The pension supports retirees who has given years of their lives as public servants and now as older citizens can comfortable expect to live out the rest of our lives without financial fears and with honor and dignity knowing we served our generation.

    Reply
  13. Jagdish

    I hear that because of down turn in economy & revenue to NYS Operating budget, NYS may offer a Buy Out. Does a possibility exist? Is it true?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      At this time, we’re not aware of any statewide retirement incentives. The New York State Legislature (not NYSLRS) occasionally enacts these retirement incentive programs, which are approved by both houses and signed into law by the Governor. The Retirement System administers programs that are signed into law. We’ll notify your employer if the Legislature makes a State incentive program available.

      Reply
  14. Elio Giuliani

    Our strong CSEA union has also gone to court at least 3 times against 2 former NYS governors who tried to take NYS Pension funds for other uses. Our Political Action Coordinator and other officers of CSEA have informed us at several different CSEA events in the past.
    People should not be so quick to believe things told to them from “someone”. Do some research with these same computers used to spread those falsehoods.
    Thank you Tom DiNapoli and your CSEA and PEF members in protecting our future pensions.

    Reply
  15. Suzanne Schmitt

    Will he chance more people emigrating away from NYS taxes? Golisano & trump bailed. There’s so little transparency in government any more, it’d be nice to know what’s coming down the pike.

    Reply
  16. Rose Ann Smith

    The school district that I work for just presented a retirement incentive to the staff. Is there a chance the state may offer an incentive also? 55/25 would allow some members to take incentives from employers without a penalty.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      At this time, we’re not aware of any statewide retirement incentives. The New York State Legislature (not NYSLRS) occasionally enacts these retirement incentive programs, which are approved by both houses and signed into law by the Governor. The Retirement System administers programs that are signed into law. We’ll notify your employer if the Legislature makes a State incentive program available.

      Reply
  17. Kathy

    A heartfelt thank you to Comptroller DiNapoli and his staff for their responsible, diligent actions to protect the plan and our hard earned futures.
    Question…has there been any discussion regarding retirement incentives for tier 3 & 4 state & local employees as a way to assist with the current budget difficulties the State and local governments are facing?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      At this time, we’re not aware of any statewide retirement incentives. The New York State Legislature (not NYSLRS) occasionally enacts these retirement incentive programs, which are approved by both houses and signed into law by the Governor. The Retirement System administers programs that are signed into law. We’ll notify your employer if the Legislature makes a State incentive program available.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      At this time, we’re not aware of any statewide retirement incentives. The New York State Legislature (not NYSLRS) occasionally enacts these retirement incentive programs, which are approved by both houses and signed into law by the Governor. The Retirement System administers programs that are signed into law. We’ll notify your employer if the Legislature makes a State incentive program available. 

      Reply
  18. marian barnes

    When does the comptroller plan to retire and how can we be assured the next comptroller will be as conscientious as the current one?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      For nearly a century, every New York State Comptroller has vigorously, and successfully, defended the integrity of the Pension Fund. It is our expectation that any future Comptroller will do the same.

      Reply
  19. Paul bax

    Didn’t his father raid the pension system and was ordered by the courts to pay it back and he never did?

    Reply
  20. daniel day

    hello, why is there no earnings in our MAS this year, i just checked mine online and there is no mention of the value of the pension fund, the percentage up/down or any earnings for my account

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      As of March 31, 2019, the Pension Fund balance was $210.5 billion and reflected a one-year return rate of 5.23 percent. After the balance is calculated for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, that information will be posted on the New York State Common Retirement Fund page.

      You can find your account balance in your MAS under the Member Contribution Summary heading. Member contributions earn a fixed annual return of 5 percent.

      However, you should be aware that your contribution balance does not reflect your potential NYSLRS retirement benefit. You pension will be based on your earnings and years of service, not on your contributions. You can find out more in the Projected Monthly Retirement Benefit section of your MAS.

      Reply
  21. Daniel Day

    Hello, the MAS statement is different this year, no mention of the funds value or its percentage of earnings/loss. plus no mention of any earnings for my individual account. any info on this would be appreciated. thank you

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      As of March 31, 2019, the Pension Fund balance was $210.5 billion and reflected a one-year return rate of 5.23 percent. After the balance is calculated for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, that information will be posted on the New York State Common Retirement Fund page.

      You can find your account balance in your MAS under the Member Contribution Summary heading. Member contributions earn a fixed annual return of 5 percent.

      However, you should be aware that your contribution balance does not reflect your potential NYSLRS retirement benefit. You pension will be based on your earnings and years of service, not on your contributions. You can find out more in the Projected Monthly Retirement Benefit section of your MAS.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The Pension Fund’s managers employ a diversified investment strategy designed to take advantage of growth opportunities in good times, which helps it to better navigate through hard times.

      The Fund has high investment standards, which is why Independent analysts have long recognized NYSLRS as one of the best-managed and best-funded public retirement systems in the nation.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Over the past century, the Pension Fund has weathered numerous financial crises. The Fund remains strong.

      Reply
  22. Richard J Riccobono

    Question: I have nearly 45 years in the New York State retirement system. I plan on retiring soon, however, the hypothetical of a possible early incentive is looming in the State Assembly and Senate. My question is, if I have maxed out on my pension at 79%, would I be entitled to additional benefits because I have 25 or more years of service in the system with an early incentive package? I realize this is a hypothetical and a bit of a long shot, but just wondering whether I should Linger on in case I can benefit from it.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      While there are several statewide retirement incentive bills that have been introduced in the Legislature, they have not progressed at all as of yet through the legislative process. We’ll notify your employer if a State incentive program is signed into law by the Governor, and we’ll provide the kind of details you’re looking for on social media and our website.

      Reply
  23. David

    How does the current state deficit affect pensions both short term or long term in the event that the federal government does not provide the necessary aid to states and local governments? Is there any scenario under which the state can use pension funds to plug fiscal holes?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The pension fund is totally separate from the New York State general fund. Neither the Governor nor the Legislature has access to the pension fund and they cannot use its assets to help balance the State budget.

      Reply

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