Tag Archives: Membership Milestones

PFRS Milestones

The Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) covers more than 35,000 police officers and firefighters across New York State. Let’s look at the PFRS milestones you will reach over the course of your public service career and how they will affect your benefits.

Why Milestones Matter

As a NYSLRS member, you earn service credit for your paid public employment. Generally, one year of full-time work equals one year of service credit. As you earn service credit, you’ll reach career milestones that will make you eligible for certain benefits or for increases to your existing benefits.

Some milestones are common to most PFRS members; others are shared by members in a particular tier or retirement plan. For example, your plan determines when you would be eligible to apply for a non-job-related disability benefit. Understanding these milestones will help you plan for retirement.

Important PFRS Milestones

PFRS milestones

Special Retirement Plans

Most PFRS members are in special retirement plans, which allow you to retire after 20 or 25 years of service regardless of age.

If you retire at your 20- or 25-year milestone, your pension will be 50 percent of your final average earnings (FAE). Depending on your retirement plan, you may earn 1.66 percent of your FAE for each year you work beyond the 20 or 25 years, however for most PFRS members, a maximum of 32 years of service can be used in your pension calculation.

Final Average Earnings

A new law improves your pension benefits. When you retire, your FAE will be based on the average of your three highest consecutive years of earnings, the same as members in other tiers. Read our blog post, Calculating Your Final Average Earnings, for more information, including how your FAE will be calculated and limitations.

Eligible Service

PFRS members in special plans should be aware that not all public employment counts towards reaching the 20- or 25-year milestone. Service usually must be in specific job titles to be creditable toward your pension benefit. For example, if you are in the New York State Police Plan, service with a city police department would be creditable, but service as a sheriff’s deputy or corrections officer would not be. PFRS members may be eligible to purchase credit for military service to reach 20 or 25 years.

More Information About Your Benefits

Most members can estimate their pension in Retirement Online. You can fine tune your estimate by entering your annual earnings and expected pay increases. You can also include any service credit you plan to purchase.

Your specific PFRS milestones, along with your eligible service and pension calculation, are determined by your retirement plan, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the details of your plan. You can visit our website to Find Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan Publication.

ERS Tier 6 Milestones

If you joined the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) on or after April 1, 2012, you are a Tier 6 member. Let’s look at the ERS Tier 6 milestones you will reach over the course of your public service career and how they will affect your benefits.

Why Milestones Matter

As a NYSLRS member, you earn service credit for your paid public employment. Generally, one year of full-time work equals one year of service credit. As you earn service credit, you’ll reach career milestones that will make you eligible for certain benefits or for increases to your existing benefits. Understanding these milestones will help you plan for retirement.

Your milestones depend on your tier and your retirement plan. Most ERS Tier 6 members are in the Article 15 retirement plan (named for a section of the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law). If you see Plan A15 listed in the ‘My Account Summary’ section of your Retirement Online account, you’re in this plan.

Important ERS Tier 6 Milestones

ERS Tier 6 milestones

Here are some additional important milestones for Tier 6 members in the Article 15 retirement plan:

  • With ten years of service credit, you can apply for a non-job-related disability benefit if you are permanently disabled and cannot perform your duties because of a physical or mental condition.
  • With ten years of service credit, your beneficiaries may be eligible for an out-of-service death benefit if you leave public employment and die before retirement.
  • Ten years also marks the point when you are no longer able to withdraw your membership and receive a refund of your contributions if you leave public employment.
  • You are eligible to retire once you are age 55 and have at least five years of service credit. However, for most Tier 6 members, there would be reductions to your benefit if you retire before age 63.
  • You can retire with full benefits at age 63.
    • If you retire with fewer than 20 years of service, your pension will equal 1.66 percent of your final average earnings (FAE) for each year of service.
    • If you retire with more than 20 years of service, your benefit will equal 1.75 percent of your FAE for each year of service.
    • Then, for each year of service beyond 20 years, you will receive an additional 2 percent of your FAE.

Note: A new law improves your pension benefits. When you retire, your final average earnings (FAE) will be based on the average of your three highest consecutive years of earnings, the same as members in other tiers. Read our blog post, Calculating Your Final Average Earnings, for more information, including how your FAE will be calculated and limitations.

Most members can estimate their pension in Retirement Online. You can fine tune your estimate by entering your annual earnings and expected pay increases. You can also include any service credit you plan to purchase.

NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time: ERS Tier 6

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you’re assigned a tier based on the date of your membership. This post looks at Tier 6 members of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS).

Your tier determines such things as your eligibility for benefits, the calculation of those benefits, death benefit coverage and whether you need to contribute toward your benefits.

ERS has six tiers. Anyone who joined ERS on or after April 1, 2012 is in Tier 6. There were 350,986 ERS Tier 6 members as of March 31, 2022. At 54 percent of membership, Tier 6 is the largest ERS tier.

Most ERS Tier 6 members (unless they are in special retirement plans) retire under the Article 15 retirement plan. Check out the graphic below for the basic retirement information for Tier 6 members in this plan.

ERS Tier 6

Membership Milestones

As of April 9, 2022, Tier 6 members only need five years of service credit to become vested. If you are a vested member in the Article 15 retirement plan, you are eligible for a lifetime pension benefit as early as age 55, but if you retire before the full retirement age of 63, your benefit will be reduced.

If you retire with fewer than 20 years, the benefit is 1.66 percent of your final average earnings (FAE) for each year of service. If you retire with exactly 20 years of service, the benefit is 1.75 percent of your FAE for each year of service (35 percent of your FAE).

If you retire with more than 20 years of service, you’ll receive 35 percent for the first 20 years, plus 2 percent for each additional year. For example, with 35 years of service you can retire at age 63 with 65 percent of your FAE.

Where to Find More ERS Tier 6 Information

For more information about ERS Tier 6 membership, find your NYSLRS retirement plan publication. It’s a comprehensive description of the benefits provided by your specific plan.

You can check your service credit total and estimate your pension using Retirement Online. Most members can use our online pension calculator to create an estimate based on the salary and service information NYSLRS has on file for them. You can enter different retirement dates to see how your choices would affect your potential benefit.

Members may not be able to use the Retirement Online calculator in certain circumstances, for example, if they have recently transferred a membership to NYSLRS, or if they are a Tier 6 member with between five and ten years of service. These members can contact us to request an estimate or use the “Quick Calculator” on our website. The Quick Calculator generates estimates based on information you provide.  

ERS Tier 5 Milestones

If you joined the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) on or after January 1, 2010, but before April 1, 2012, you are a Tier 5 member. Let’s look at the milestones you will pass over the course of your public service career and how they will affect your benefits.

ERS Tier 5 milestones

Why Milestones Matter

As a NYSLRS member, you earn service credit for your paid public employment. Generally, one year of full-time work equals one year of service credit. Certain amounts of service are milestones because they affect the benefits you receive and how your pension will be calculated. A better understanding of when they occur and how they change your benefits will help you plan for retirement.

Your milestones depend on your tier and your retirement plan. Most ERS Tier 5 members will retire under the Article 15 retirement plan. Some ERS Tier 5 members, such as deputy sheriffs and state corrections officers, are in special plans. You can find information for the Article 15 plan and other Tier 5 plans in your NYSLRS retirement plan publication.

Major Milestones for Tier 5

Here are some important milestones for Tier 5 members in the Article 15 retirement plan:

  • With ten years of service credit, you can apply for a non-job-related disability benefit if you are permanently disabled and cannot perform your duties because of a physical or mental condition.
  • With ten years of service credit, your beneficiaries may be eligible for an out-of-service death benefit if you leave public employment and die before retirement.
  • Ten years also marks the point when you are no longer able to withdraw your membership and receive a refund of your contributions if you leave public employment.
  • You are eligible to retire once you are age 55 and have five years of service credit. However, for most Tier 5 members, there would be reductions to your benefit if you retire before age 62.
  • You can retire with full benefits at age 62.
  • If you retire with fewer than 20 years of service, your pension will equal 1.66 percent of your final average earnings (FAE) for each year of service.
  • With 20 to 30 years of service credit, your benefit will equal 2 percent of your FAE for each year of service.
  • Then, for each year of service beyond 30 years, you will receive 1.5 percent of your FAE.

Note: The law limits the final average earnings of all members who joined on or after June 17, 1971. For example, for most members, if your earnings increase significantly during the years used in your FAE, it’s possible that some of those earnings may not be used toward your pension. The specific limits vary by tier. Visit our Final Average Earnings page for more information.

The amount of your pension also depends on several factors, including your years of service credit and your age when you retire. Most members can estimate your pension in Retirement Online and enter different retirement dates to see how those choices would affect your benefit. As of April 9, 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members only need five years of service credit to be vested. If you are a Tier 5 or 6 member with between five and ten years of service credit, you can contact us to request a benefit estimate.