Tag Archives: New York State and Local Retirement System

Estimate Your Pension in Retirement Online

Here is an important retirement planning tip — most members can create their own pension estimate in minutes using Retirement Online. Your estimate will be based on the most up-to-date account information we have on file for you. You can enter different retirement dates to see how those choices would affect your benefit. When you’re done, you can print your pension estimate or save it for future reference.

Estimate Your Pension in Retirement Online

How to Create a Pension Estimate

To get started:

  • Sign in to Retirement Online.
  • Click the ‘Estimate my Pension Benefit’ button to access the pension calculator.
  • Enter the date (or age) you plan to retire.

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. If you add the birthdate for a beneficiary, you’ll see the estimated monthly payment amounts under the pension payment options that provide a benefit for a survivor.

Remember, the pension amounts you’ll see are just an estimate; it is not a guarantee of what you’ll receive when you retire.

Most Tier 2 through 6 members (more than 90 percent of all NYSLRS members) can use the Retirement Online pension calculator. However, some members may not be able to because of their circumstances — for example, members who recently transferred to NYSLRS, some PFRS members, or Tier 6 members with between five and ten years of service. The system will notify you if your estimate cannot be completed using the Retirement Online pension calculator. Please contact us to request a pension estimate if you receive this notification.

Do More With Retirement Online

In Retirement Online, you can view your date of membership, tier, retirement plan, estimated total service credit and more. Purchase previous service credit well before retirement and save on interest costs. Check out what else members can do in Retirement Online.

If you don’t already have an account, learn more and register for one today. If you need help with Retirement Online, read our Retirement Online Tools and Tips blog post.

Financial Literacy and Retirement

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a time dedicated to helping people make informed financial decisions and manage money effectively. Financial literacy means understanding and using skills such as budgeting, investing and managing your personal finances.  

Greater financial literacy generally translates into greater financial well-being, according to a recent report from the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index. TIAA’s research also finds a connection between financial literacy and saving for retirement.

Financial Literacy and Retirement

Financial Literacy and Planning for Retirement

Increase your financial literacy and make a good plan for retirement by understanding your NYSLRS benefits, your other sources of retirement income and your current financial situation. Once you know where you stand, you’ll be in a better position to plan.

Understand Your NYSLRS Benefits

As a NYSLRS member, you are enrolled in a defined benefit plan, also known as a traditional pension plan. If you are vested and retire from NYSLRS, you will receive a monthly pension payment for the rest of your life. Your pension will be calculated using a formula based on your earnings and years of service, your retirement plan, and your tier. 

Find your retirement plan publication for comprehensive information about the benefits you are entitled to receive as a member of the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS).

Depending on your tier and retirement plan, certain membership milestones will affect how your pension is calculated and how much you’ll receive at retirement. Read our milestones blog posts for general information about the retirement plans that cover most NYSLRS members:

Consider Other Sources of Retirement Income

Your pension will provide you with monthly payments for the rest of your life. But there is more to a financially secure retirement than having a pension. Understanding your potential sources of income will help you plan for your future and boost your retirement confidence. Think of retirement security as a three-legged stool. Each leg is a source of income to help support you when your working days are done.

The formula for a financially secure retirement

Retirement savings can be an important financial asset when you retire. Savings can provide money for you to travel, continue your education, pursue a hobby or start a business. The money you set aside can also be a resource in case of an emergency, act as a hedge against inflation and boost your retirement confidence.

Evaluate Your Current Financial Situation

Estimate Your Retirement Income

An estimate of your NYSLRS pension benefit is essential for effective retirement planning. Most members can create their own estimate in minutes using Retirement Online. Your estimate will be based on the most up-to-date account information we have on file for you. You can enter different retirement dates to see how those choices would affect your benefit.

There are also a variety of online calculators that can help you estimate the retirement income you might expect from Social Security or personal retirement savings.

Create a Budget

Use our Monthly Income & Expenses Worksheets to help you track your current spending habits and project your future needs. Remember to account for non-monthly expenses, such as car insurance, property taxes and school taxes.

Pay Down Your Debt

If you’re planning to retire soon, it’s a good idea to take inventory of any debt you owe. Debt is not necessarily bad but paying it down can give you more flexibility to enjoy the type of retirement you want.

How Your Tier 6 Contribution Rate Can Change

Most NYSLRS members contribute a percentage of their earnings to help fund pension benefits. For Tier 6 members (those who joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012), that percentage, or contribution rate, can change from year to year based on your earnings. The minimum rate is 3 percent of your earnings, and the maximum is 6 percent.

Tier 6 contribution rates

When Tier 6 Contribution Rates are Determined

A Tier 6 member’s contribution rate is calculated annually. New rates become effective on April 1, the beginning of the state’s fiscal year. Once your rate is determined for a given fiscal year, it doesn’t change for the rest of that fiscal year. We provide rates to your employer in March, a few weeks before they need to apply any rate changes.

How Your Tier 6 Contribution Rate is Calculated

If you are a new NYSLRS member, during your first three years of membership your contribution rate is based on an estimated annual wage that your employer provided when you were enrolled as a new member.

If you have been a member for three or more years, NYSLRS calculates your rate using the earnings reported to us by your employer from the last completed fiscal year, April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023.

Rates are calculated using your base pay, which includes:

Update for 2024: Overtime is no longer excluded from the Tier 6 contribution rate calculation.

Legislation enacted during the COVID-19 emergency temporarily removed overtime from the Tier 6 contribution rate calculation. For some Tier 6 members, this meant lower contribution rates for up to two years, from April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024.

Beginning April 1, 2024, overtime will be included in the calculation of contribution rates.

This video will help explain how your contribution rate is determined:

How Your NYSLRS Pension Works

The amount you contribute to the Retirement System does not affect the amount of your pension. A NYSLRS pension is a defined-benefit plan. Under this type of plan, once you are eligible for a pension and apply for retirement, you will receive a monthly payment for the rest of your life. The amount of your pension will be calculated using a formula based on your retirement plan, years of service and final average earnings.

You can learn more about how your pension will be calculated by reading your retirement plan publication. Use our Find Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan Publication tool to find yours.

Make Sure You Receive Your Member Annual Statement

Member Annual Statements are distributed to NYSLRS members each spring. Don’t wait for a mailed copy — get your Statement online instead! You can update your delivery preference in Retirement Online to receive an email when your Statement is available.

(Note: Retiree Annual Statements were made available online in February.)

Get Your Member Annual Statement Sooner

You’ll receive your Member Annual Statement sooner if you choose to receive it through Retirement Online.

To update your delivery preference:

  • Sign in to Retirement Online.
  • From your Account Homepage, click “update” next to ‘Member Annual Statement by.’
  • Choose “Email” from the dropdown.
Get Your Member Annual Statement Faster with Retirement Online

Check and Update Your Contact Information

Retirement Online is the fastest way to check your contact information and update it if needed. If you don’t already have an email address on file, please provide it so that we can contact you quickly if we need to notify you about important information such as a change to your benefits. Use a personal email address you will have access to before and after you retire, rather than a work email address. You should also make sure your mailing address and phone number are current.

To update your contact information, click “update” next to your email address, mailing address or phone number to make corrections.

Use Retirement Online to Stay Informed

Your annual Statement is a snapshot of your NYSLRS account as of March 31. For the most up-to-date information year-round, sign in to your Retirement Online account.

In Retirement Online, you can view your date of membership, tier, retirement plan, estimated total service credit and more. Check out what else members can do in Retirement Online.

If you don’t already have an account, learn more and register for one today. If you need help with Retirement Online, read our Retirement Online Tools and Tips blog post.

Supplement Your NYSLRS Pension with Retirement Savings

Your NYSLRS pension can provide a significant portion of your retirement income, but it’s also a good idea to supplement your pension and Social Security with a retirement savings account.

Retirement savings can be an important financial asset when you retire. Savings can enhance your retirement lifestyle and give you the flexibility to do the things you want. Your savings can provide money for you to travel, continue your education, pursue a hobby or start a business. The money you set aside can also be a resource in case of an emergency, act as a hedge against inflation and boost your retirement confidence.

Set a Retirement Savings Goal

How much to save is a personal decision, but here are some things to consider.

Financial advisers often recommend saving 10 to 15 percent of your gross earnings throughout your career to retire comfortably. However, that advice is aimed at people with 401(k)-style defined contribution retirement plans as their main source of retirement income.

As a NYSLRS member, you’re part of a defined benefit plan, also known as a traditional pension plan. Your pension, based on your years of service and earnings, will provide a lifetime benefit. You can estimate your pension in Retirement Online to get an idea of the income it will provide in retirement.

Having a pension means you may not need to save as much as someone with only a 401(k). Use a retirement savings calculator to see how much a retirement savings plan could yield over time, or test the results of different savings amounts.

Below you can see potential savings results of someone who invests 50 dollars every two weeks over 30 years. While the stock market can be turbulent over the long term, stock market returns average about 10 percent a year.

Saving for Retirement

As you get closer to retirement, you should develop a plan to withdraw money from your retirement savings. A withdrawal plan will give you a better idea of the income you might expect from your nest egg.

Here is one possible withdrawal strategy, which was designed to provide retirement income for 20 years. Please note, if your retirement is far in the future, the money you withdraw may not have the same value that it has today. However, while inflation has been high recently, it does cycle and has been lower in the past.

Withdrawing from Retirement Savings

If you find you’ll need to save more to meet your goal, you can make adjustments to help ensure you’ll have enough savings in retirement.

Deferred Compensation – A Way to Save

State employees and many municipal employees are eligible to save for retirement through the New York State Deferred Compensation Plan. Once you’ve signed up, your retirement savings, which may be tax-deferred, depending on your plan, will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. (The Deferred Compensation Plan is not affiliated with NYSLRS.)

Check with your employer’s human resources or personnel office to see if they participate in the Deferred Compensation Plan or if they offer other savings options.

Read More About Retirement Savings

You can find more information about saving for retirement in these posts:

Apply for Retirement in Retirement Online

Ready to retire? Retirement Online makes it fast and convenient to apply for retirement. There are no forms to mail in and nothing to have notarized. If you don’t already have an account, sign up today.

As a reminder, you must submit your application 15 – 90 days before your retirement date. Before you apply for retirement, make sure you have proof of your date of birth on hand. If you choose a pension payment option that leaves a lifetime benefit to a beneficiary when you die, we will need proof of their birth date too.

Retirement Online Makes It Fast and Convenient to Apply for Retirement

From there, you’ll go through a series of screens where you’ll be able to:

  • Choose a retirement date;
  • Get an estimate of your pension and the payment options available to you;
  • Select a payment option;
  • Enter federal tax withholding information;
  • Sign up for direct deposit (have your bank account information ready);
  • Upload required documents, such as proof of date of birth;
  • Pay off your NYSLRS loan or service credit purchase; and
  • Review your employment history.

After you click the “Submit” button, make sure you receive a confirmation message that your retirement application has been successfully submitted before closing your browser.

One Exception — Disability Retirement

NYSLRS provides disability benefits for members who are permanently disabled and cannot perform their duties because of a physical or mental condition. Applications for disability retirement can’t be submitted in Retirement Online. Members who wish to apply for a disability retirement need to submit a paper application. Visit our Disability Benefits page for more information.

For Benefit Information, Read Your Retirement Plan Publication

Your service and disability retirement benefits and death benefits are based on your tier, plan, service credit, and other factors. For comprehensive information about your available benefits, find your NYSLRS retirement plan publication.

How School Employees Earn NYSLRS Service Credit

school employeesWhile most New York teachers and administrators are in the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, other school employees are members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). In fact, 1 out of 5 NYSLRS members works for a school district. Usually, their employment is tied to the school year, which is often 10 or 11 months long.

So how do we determine service credit for school employees?

Service Credit for School Employees

As a member, you receive service credit for paid public employment beginning with your date of membership. That credit is based on the number of days you work, which your employer reports to us.

If you’re working full-time, you receive one year of service per school year, even if you only work 10 months of the year.

For part-time work, your employer calculates days worked by dividing the number of hours worked by the hours in a full-time day. The number of hours in a full-time day is set by your employer (between six and eight hours). So, for example, if a 40-hour work week is considered full-time for your employer, and you work 20 hours a week for a given school year, you will receive half a year of service credit.

Calculating Service Credit

Usually, a full-time, 10-month school year is at least 180 days. However, depending on your employer, a full academic year can range from 170 days to 200 days. Whether you work full- or part-time, your service is based on the length of your school year:

For all BOCES and school district employees, as well as
teachers working at New York State schools for the deaf and blind:

Number of days worked ÷ 180 days

For college employees:
Number of days worked ÷ 170 days

For institutional teachers:
Number of days worked ÷ 200 days

Calculating Part-Time Service Credit for School Employees

Check Your Service Credit

You can sign in to Retirement Online and find your current estimated service credit listed on your Account Homepage under ‘My Account Summary.’

If you’re not sure whether you’re earning full-time or part-time service, you can check your most recent Member Annual Statement to see how much service you earned over the past fiscal year. To view your most recent Statement, sign in to Retirement Online. From your Account Homepage, click the “View My Member Annual Statement” button under ‘My Account Summary.’ If you are receiving full-time service, it will say “1.00 Years” for service credited from 4/1/2022 – 3/31/2023. A reminder: the total credited service you will see listed on your Statement was as of March 31, 2023.

For more information about service credit, read our booklet Service Credit for Tiers 2 through 6 (VO1854) or find your retirement plan publication.

Visit NYSLRS and OUF at the New York State Fair

If you’re visiting the Great New York State Fair, stop by and see us.

The celebration of everything New York begins Wednesday, August 23 and runs through Monday, September 4 (Labor Day). Our information representatives will be at the fairgrounds in Syracuse from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm to help members and retirees with their retirement planning and benefit questions. You’ll also be able to pick up retirement plan brochures and forms, request an estimate that will be mailed to you and get help registering for a Retirement Online account.

The NYSLRS booth will be in the Center of Progress Building, Building 3 on the State Fair map, near the Main Gate.

State Fair

Find Unclaimed Funds at the State Fair

OSC’s Office of Unclaimed Funds booth will also be in the Center of Progress Building. An unclaimed fund is lost or forgotten money, perhaps in an old bank account or insurance policy, that has been turned over to the State. See if any of that money is yours. So far this year, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the Office of Unclaimed Funds have returned more than $295 million.


Special Fair Days

Wednesday, August 23

  • Opening Day — Governor’s Day

Thursday, August 24

  • Student Youth Day — Youth and students under 18 years of age are admitted free on this day. ID showing date of birth may be requested.
  • Agriculture Career Day

Friday, August 25

  • Pride Day — The first State fair in America to host an official Pride Day to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • New Americans Day

Monday, August 28

  • Law Enforcement Day — Free admission to any active or retired law enforcement or corrections personnel who present a badge or picture ID from the department from which they are or were employed.

Tuesday, August 29

  • Comptroller DiNapoli Visits the Fair — He is the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and is the administrator of NYSLRS. He will present area residents and organizations with unclaimed funds, and he’ll be stopping by the NYSLRS booth during the day.
  • Fire & Rescue Day — Free admission to any active or retired member of a fire department or emergency services organization who presents a picture ID from that department or organization.
  • Beef Day

Wednesday, August 30

  • Women’s Day

Thursday, August 31

  • Armed Forces Day — Free admission to any active-duty service member or veteran with military identification (military ID card, form DD-214 or NYS driver license, learner permit or nondriver ID card with a veteran designation).
  • Dairy Day
  • Stomp Out Stigma Day

Friday, September 1

  • Native American Day — Free admission to all members of Native American tribes, no ID required.

Saturday, September 2

  • Apple Day 

Monday, September 4

  • Labor Day