Tag Archives: Countdown to Retirement

Countdown To Retirement — 12 Months Out

Once you decide to retire and begin preparing, the final months leading up to your retirement date go by quickly. Previously, we discussed the steps to take when you’re 18 months away from retirement. As we continue our Countdown to Retirement series, let’s take a look at what you should be doing 12 months out.

12 Months Out

Domestic Relations Order

Pensions earned during a marriage are considered marital property. So, if you divorce, you may need to split your retirement benefit with your ex-spouse. If you agreed to such a division, or if a court ordered you to share a portion of your pension benefits with your ex-spouse, now is the time to make sure NYSLRS has a valid domestic relations order (DRO) on file:

If you have a DRO, send it to our Matrimonial Bureau, which will review it for consistency with New York State law. If your DRO isn’t complete, visit our website for a NYSLRS-developed DRO template and tips to help the review process move more quickly. We’ll need certified photocopies of the final DRO and your judgement of divorce, before we can distribute any pension benefits to an ex-spouse.

This process can take some time, which is why you want to begin 12 months before you retire.

If you have questions about DROs, you can review our Guide to Domestic Relations Orders.

Review your health insurance coverage

NYSLRS doesn’t administer health insurance benefits, but they’re an important part of a financially secure retirement. Check with your health benefits administrator to determine what coverage you’re eligible for once you retire. Now is the time to investigate private health insurance plans if you’re not eligible for post-retirement coverage or if you need to supplement it. If you are a New York State employee, you may want to review the Planning for Retirement guide from the Department of Civil Service.

countdown to retirement - 12 months out

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date is just a year away. As it gets closer, check out the rest of our Countdown to Retirement series for steps to take eight months, four to six months and one to three months before your retirement date. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Countdown To Retirement — 18 Months Out

After taking time to plan and learn about your NYSLRS retirement benefits, you’ve decided to retire. In the final months leading up to your retirement date, there are important things you need to do. Our Countdown to Retirement series will help you know what to do and when — beginning with 18 months out.

18 Months Out

You should request a NYSLRS retirement estimate 18 months before you plan to retire. Your estimate will provide your approximate pension payment amounts under different payment options, as well as information about your retirement benefits.

To get your NYSLRS retirement estimate, send us a completed Request for Estimate form (RS6030). On the form, make sure you include:

  • Planned retirement date
  • Name and birth date of your intended beneficiary
  • Public employment history

Your public employment history dates don’t have to be exact, but NYSLRS will use this information to review your account to see whether you are eligible for any additional service

countdown to retirement - 18 months out

Your NYSLRS Retirement Estimate

When you receive your NYSLRS retirement estimate, you can expect to see your:

With your NYSLRS retirement estimate, you can see how an outstanding loan balance or additional service credit might affect your pension. This is information you need now; it shouldn’t be a surprise when you retire. You may receive your estimate and decide that you’re not ready to retire. That’s fine; you can request a new one later on.

The NYSLRS retirement estimate is based on the information we have on file for you, so it’s important to review it carefully. If your estimate isn’t what you expected, report any inconsistencies to us as soon as possible.

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date will be here before you know it. As it gets closer, check out the rest of our Countdown to Retirement series for steps to take 12 months, eight months, four to six months and one to three months before your retirement date.

Your Checklist to Apply for Retirement

After months of planning and preparation, you’re ready to apply for retirement. To get your NYSLRS  pension benefit, you need to send in an application. Let’s look at what you should include with the form to help make the retirement process go more smoothly.

Filling Out the Retirement Application

Unless you’re filing for a disability retirement, you’ll need to fill out the Application for Service Retirement (RS6037). As you fill out the form, make sure you:

  • Know your registration number. You can find it on your most recent Member Annual Statement or retirement estimate.
  • Know your past employment. To help ensure you receive the proper credit for your public service, please list your public employment history. Include any military service and memberships in other New York public retirement systems.
  • Include your beneficiary’s information. You won’t make an official beneficiary designation with this form, but including these details will help us give you specific amounts for the pension payment options  that offer a lifetime benefit for a beneficiary.
  • See a notary. The form must be filled out completely and signed by a notary public.

Proof of Birth

Make sure we have proof of your birth date. You can send it with your retirement application or before or after, but we cannot pay pension benefits without it. We accept photocopies of the following as proof:

Other Forms

Option Election

You’ll need to choose your pension payment option, or how you want your pension paid. Option election forms are available on our website, but we will also send you a form after we process your application. If you choose an option that provides your beneficiary a lifetime pension benefit when you die, you must provide proof of your beneficiary’s birth date.

Federal Income Tax Withholding

Your NYSLRS pension isn’t subject to New York State income tax, but it is subject to federal tax. You can fill out a W-4P form  any time to tell us how much to withhold from your monthly benefit. We don’t withhold income tax for other states. Visit the Retired Public Employees Association’s website to see whether your benefit will be taxed in another state.

Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is the fastest and most secure way to receive your pension benefits. You can enroll in our direct deposit program when you file for retirement. Just fill out a Direct Deposit Enrollment Application (RS6370), and return it to us.

Domestic Relations Order

If an ex-spouse is entitled to part of your pension, you should send us a copy of your domestic relations order (DRO) as soon as possible. The DRO gives us specific instructions on how to divide your benefits. We cannot finalize your pension until we review it and calculate the court-mandated distribution of your benefit. For more detailed information, please read our Guide to Domestic Relations Orders.

Questions

If you have other questions about applying for retirement, read our publication, Life Changes: How Do I Prepare to Retire? or contact us.

Countdown to Retirement: What to Do 1–3 Months before Your Retirement Date

Our Countdown to Retirement series highlights the steps you need to take as you approach your retirement date. This post focuses on the final three months.

Filing for Retirement

You must file your Application for Service Retirement (RS6037) with us 15–90 days before you plan to retire. You can get the form from our website or our consultation sites. Make sure to provide all the requested information and have it notarized.

If you send the form by “Certified Mail — Return Receipt Requested,” we will consider your application filed on the date it was mailed. Please don’t give your application to your employer; send it directly to NYSLRS.

Next Steps

Once we receive your application, we’ll mail you a confirmation letter. If you’ve received an estimate from us within the past 18 months, we will include three forms with the letter:

If you haven’t previously received an estimate, we will send you just the W-4P and Direct Deposit Enrollment forms, and we’ll begin processing your estimate. Once your estimate is complete, we will send it to you with the Option Election form.

Choosing Your Pension Payment Option

Select a payment option based on your most recent estimate, which shows what your pension benefit could be based on the pension payment options available to you. All of the options provide a monthly benefit for life, and some provide payments to a designated beneficiary when you die. You must file this form by the last day of the month in which you retire (unless otherwise notified).

Make Sure You’re Prepared

As your retirement date draws near, it’s important to understand the retirement process. Think about scheduling a consultation at one of our offices to file for retirement. Our information representatives can answer any questions to you have, help you complete the paperwork and notarize your retirement application. You can also contact us, if you have questions.

Countdown To Retirement: What To Do 4-6 Months Before Your Retirement Date

There are important things you need to do in the final months leading up to your retirement date. Our Countdown to Retirement Series will help you remember what to do and when to do it.

Last month we talked about what you should do when you’re 8 months away from retirement. This post talks about preparing a post-retirement budget and researching your post-retirement health insurance coverage.

6 Months Out: Preparing a Post-Retirement Budget

In our post on requesting an NYSLRS retirement estimate, we talked about how your estimate will have an approximate amount of what your retirement benefit could be. You can use the amount from your estimate to prepare a post-retirement budget. Having a post-retirement budget helps you to decide how you want to spend your money in retirement and helps you keep your goals in focus.

We feature worksheets to help you prepare a post-retirement budget on our website. Keep track of what you spend now for a month or two to get an idea of how you spend your money. You should include periodic expenses, such as car insurance, or property and school taxes as well.

4 Months Out: Review Your Post-Retirement Health Insurance Coverage

You should also check your eligibility for post-retirement health insurance coverage, as NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs for retirees. If you work for a non-State employer, contact your health benefits administrator for information on coverage available; if you work for a State employer, you can visit the New York State Department of Civil Service website for post-retirement health insurance information.

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date is just a few months away. Check back for more Countdown to Retirement posts on what to do after you’ve filed your Application for Service Retirement form. If you have any pre-retirement questions, please contact us.

Countdown To Retirement: What To Do 8 Months Before Your Retirement Date

There are important things you need to do in the final months leading up to your retirement date. Our Countdown to Retirement Series will help you remember what to do and when to do it.

Last month we talked about what you should do when you’re 12 months away from retirement. This post goes over what to be aware of at 8 months out, when you should start reviewing what other sources of retirement income you’ll have available besides your New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) pension.

Review Your Post-Retirement Income

There’s a good chance your pension alone will not provide you with the same level of income during retirement as you had while you were employed. This is why it’s important to review any other sources of income you may have available to you in retirement, such as:

Some experts say that you’ll need at least 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to keep your current standard of living. You also may be retired for 15 to 20 years, or longer. It’s important to have a financial plan in place in case you need extra income once you’re retired, so take some time to review what you’ll have available.

Counting Down

Your planned retirement date is less than a year away. Check back for more Countdown to Retirement posts on issues such as your eligibility for post-retirement health insurance coverage and what to do after you’ve filed your Application for Service Retirement form.If you have any pre-retirement questions, please contact us.