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
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.
Brush up on your Retirement System knowledge! Here are 10 things all NYSLRS members should know.
Lifetime Retirement Benefit You are part of a defined benefit pension plan, which provides a lifetime benefit at retirement based on your earnings and years of service.
Qualify for a Retirement Benefit by Becoming Vested Becoming vested is a key milestone in every NYSLRS member’s career. Once you’re vested, you have earned enough service to qualify for a retirement benefit, once you meet the minimum age requirements established by your retirement plan.
Tier Determines Benefits Your tier determines your eligibility for benefits under your plan and how those benefits are calculated.
Conduct NYSLRS Business Using Retirement Online Retirement Online is the fastest and most convenient way to do business with NYSLRS. It only takes a few minutes to open your account. Use Retirement Onlineinstead of calling or mailing for instant access to benefit information and convenient tools to make account changes.
Estimate Pension Using Retirement Online Calculator Most members can use Retirement Online to create benefit estimates based on the most up-to-date information we have on file. You can enter different retirement dates and payment options to see how those choices would affect your benefit.
Use Plan Publication to Learn about Benefits Your retirement plan publication is a comprehensive source for information about your benefits.
Pension Calculated Using Highest Earnings Your final average earnings (FAE) is another major factor in calculating your NYSLRS pension. When we calculate your pension, we find the set of consecutive years (one, three or five, depending on your tier and retirement plan) when your earnings were highest.
Request Past Service Credit Before Retirement Service credit is one of the major factors in calculating your NYSLRS pension. You earn a year of service credit for each year of full-time employment with a participating employer. In some cases, you may also be able to request additional credit for past service.
NYSLRS Membership Includes Death and Disability Benefits NYSLRS membership provides more than just retirement benefits. If you become seriously ill or injured, you may be eligible for a disability benefit. And, you may also be eligible to leave a beneficiary a death benefit if you die while working for a public employer.
Best-Funded, Best-Managed The New York State Common Retirement Fund holds and invests the assets of NYSLRS on behalf of members, retirees and their beneficiaries and continues to be one of the best-funded and best-managed public pension funds in the nation. Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is the administrative head of NYSLRS and trustee of the Common Retirement Fund.
NYSLRS is one of the largest public retirement systems in America, serving more than 1.2 million members, retirees and beneficiaries. Read A Look Inside NYSLRS to learn more about your retirement system.
A lot can change in our lives, and sometimes people switch jobs or professions during their career. Perhaps you were a teacher, and you recently began working for New York State. Or maybe you had a job with New York City, and you took a position with a municipality outside of the city. If you are an active member of more than one public retirement system in New York State, you may have the option of transferring that membership to NYSLRS and receiving credit for that service.
Considering Service Credit
Service credit is a factor in calculating a NYSLRS pension benefit, so increasing your service credit will generally increase your pension benefit.
In some cases, transferring membership may not be beneficial. For example, if you are in a retirement plan that allows for retirement after 20 or 25 years of service (regardless of age), your service usually must be in specific job titles to be creditable toward your pension benefit. If you are in one of these plans, find your retirement plan publication to learn what service is creditable.
If you have questions, contact a customer service representative before you apply to transfer a membership. You can message them using our secure contact form.
Members who are transferring membership to NYSLRS must:
Be on the payroll in a job that is covered by NYSLRS;
No longer work in the job that was covered by the other retirement system; and
Still be an active member of the other system (off payroll for that job, but your membership in the other system has not been terminated or withdrawn).
To transfer a membership to NYSLRS, you first must submit a transfer request to your other retirement system. When we receive your membership information from the other retirement system, we will compare your date of membership in NYSLRS with your date of membership in the other system. When the transfer is complete, your date of membership will be the earlier of the two dates. If applicable, your tier will change.
If You Need to Transfer to Another System
You can submit an online request to NYSLRS to transfer your membership from NYSLRS to another New York State public retirement system:
It may not come up during your career, but if you leave public employment before you are eligible to retire, you should know what happens with your NYSLRS membership and benefits. Your options will depend on how many years of service you have. It’s also important to keep your account information up to date. If you remain a member of NYSLRS after you leave public employment, you can regularly review your account information and keep it up to date by using Retirement Online.
If you have 5 or more years of service when you leave public employment, and you leave public employment before you are eligible to retire, you can receive a vested retirement benefit when you become eligible.
If you leave with between five and ten years of service, you can either remain a member and receive a vested retirement benefit when you become eligible or terminate your membership and receive a refund of your contributions.
If you leave with more than ten years of service, you cannot withdraw your NYSLRS membership and you can receive a vested retirement benefit when you become eligible and apply.
If you leave with less than ten years of service, you can end your membership and receive a refund of your contributions.
Keep Your Contact Information Updated
It’s important to make sure we have your current mailing address, phone number and personal email address, and let us know about any future changes. That way, you won’t miss important information from us, such as your Member Annual Statement.
To update your contact information, sign in to Retirement Online. Go to ‘My Profile Information,’ find your address, phone number or email address under ‘My Profile Information’ and click “update.”
Keep Your Beneficiaries Updated
If you leave public employment, your beneficiaries may still be eligible for a death benefit, so you should review your beneficiary designations periodically. Sign in to Retirement Online, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ area of your Account Homepage and click “View and Update My Beneficiaries.” Your beneficiary changes will be considered filed on the day you submit them.
Repay Any NYSLRS Loans
If you leave public employment, you will no longer be able to pay off your NYSLRS loans by payroll deduction. If you have any outstanding NYSLRS loans, you must make payments directly to NYSLRS at least once every three months and repay your loan within five years of when it was issued, or you will default on the loan. Defaulting on a loan may carry considerable tax consequences: You’ll need to pay ordinary income tax and possibly an additional 10 percent penalty on the taxable portion of the loan. You can make loan payments to NYSLRS via Retirement Online.
You aren’t eligible to take a new NYSLRS loan once you are off the public payroll.
Receiving a Vested Retirement Benefit
If you are vested, once you reach retirement age, you can receive a lifetime pension based on your salary and service from when you were working in public employment. It’s your responsibility to apply for retirement — NYSLRS will not pay out your pension benefit unless you apply for it.
The earliest date you can receive your retirement benefit depends on your tier and retirement system.
Tier 1 and 2 members are eligible for a vested retirement benefit as early as the first of the month following your 55th birthday.
Tier 3, 4 and 5 members and Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) Tier 6 members are eligible for a vested retirement benefit as early as your 55th birthday.
Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) Tier 6 members are eligible for a vested retirement benefit on your 63rd birthday.
For most members, however, if you retire before your full retirement age, you would face a permanent early retirement benefit reduction. The full retirement age is 62 for Tier 1 – 5 members, and age 63 for ERS Tier 6 members and off-payroll PFRS Tier 6 members.
If You Leave Public Employment with Less than Ten Years of Service
With less than ten years of service credit, you can choose to end your membership and request a refund of your contributions. If you withdraw your contributions, however, you will no longer be eligible to receive a pension benefit. You can withdraw by signing in to Retirement Online, going to the ‘My Account Summary’ area of your Account Homepage, and clicking “Withdraw My Membership.”
You cannot withdraw from NYSLRS once you have ten years of service credit.
(Note: Tier 1 and 2 members and PFRS Tier 3 (Article 11) members covered by a non-contributory retirement plan can make voluntary contributions. These members can withdraw their voluntary contributions without ending their membership. Contact us if you have questions.)
If you have less than five years of service credit (aren’t vested) and don’t withdraw your contributions, they will continue to earn 5 percent interest for seven years. After seven years off the public payroll, your membership ends automatically, and your contributions will be deposited into a non-interest-bearing account until you withdraw them.
For certain business transactions, such as getting a mortgage or housing, you may be asked to verify your NYSLRS benefit or account information. With Retirement Online, you can get your own verification letter in just a couple quick steps.
Pension Income Verification Letter for Retirees
As a retiree, you may need a letter verifying your pension income — maybe for housing or as part of an application for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
Retirement Online is the fastest way to get a pension verification letter. Sign in to your account and from the ‘I want to…’ section of your Account Homepage, click the “Generate Income Verification Letter” link.
A pop-up box with a confirmation message will appear. Just click “OK,” and your pension income verification letter will open in a new browser tab, ready for you to print or save.
Mortgage Verification Letter for Members
Members (not yet retired) can quickly generate a mortgage letter in Retirement Online. Sign in to your account and from your Account Homepage, in the ‘I want to…’ section, click the “Generate Mortgage Verification Letter” link.
The letter will show your account summary, including the current balance of your contributions, and if you have a loan, the date of your last loan and current loan balance.
Note for both retirees and members: You can also request a pension income or mortgage verification letter using our secure contact form. Tell us what information you need the letter to include and be sure to provide your personal identification and contact information when you submit the form. In most cases, we’ll mail you a letter within five to seven business days.
Use Retirement Online
Retirement Online is the fastest and most convenient way to conduct business with NYSLRS. Submitting applications through Retirement Online speeds up the process and enables NYSLRS to serve you more quickly.
Retirees and members can view up-to-date account information and quickly update their contact or beneficiary information.
Members can estimate their pension, apply for a loan, request credit for previous service, and apply for retirement. Read our blog post, What Members Can Do in Retirement Online, to learn about these features and more.
If you need help signing in to your account, these tools and tips may come in handy.
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 2 members of the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS).
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.
PFRS has five tiers. Almost half of PFRS members are in Tier 2, which began on July 31, 1973, and ended on June 30, 2009. Most are in special retirement plans that allow for retirement after 20 or 25 years, regardless of age, without penalty.
The special plans that cover most police officers and firefighters fall under Sections 384, 384(f), 384-d, and 384-e of Retirement and Social Security Law. You can sign in to Retirement Online to find your benefit plan, which is listed under ‘My Account Summary.’
Where to Find PFRS Tier 2 Information
Whether you’re in one of the retirement plans described in this post or another retirement plan, we encourage you to visit our website to find your NYSLRS retirement plan publication. It’s a comprehensive description of the benefits you’re entitled to receive as a PFRS member.
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, if they are a Tier 6 member with between five and ten years of service, or if they have worked for multiple employers and were covered by different retirement plans. 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.
If your last federal tax bill was larger than you expected, or if you received a hefty refund, it might be time to review how much federal tax withholding comes out of your NYSLRS pension. If you’re not sure whether you need to adjust your federal withholding, you may want to check with a tax preparer.
Remember, NYSLRS only withholds federal income tax. New York State doesn’t tax your NYSLRS pension, and we can’t withhold for income tax for other states.
New W-4P Federal Tax Withholding Form
The IRS released a new version of their W-4P federal income tax withholding form. For 2023, NYSLRS was required to update our tax withholding form as well.
The new form no longer allows tax filers to adjust their withholding by electing a specific number of withholding allowances. Instead, the W-4P form has fields for increasing or decreasing the amount of withholding, including fields for tax credits and deductions.
You do not need to submit the new W-4P unless you want to change the amount of your tax withholding.
To Change Your Withholding
Retirement Online makes it fast and convenient to view your current federal withholding information and make changes using our online form that collects the same information as the paper form. You can check your current withholding by signing in to Retirement Online and viewing your most recent pension pay stub. To change your federal tax withholding, click the green “Update My W-4P Tax Information” button on your Account Homepage.
If you update your withholding online by the middle of the month, your changes will generally be applied that month. We’ll notify you by mail or email (depending on your contact preference) when the update has been completed.
Completing the Form
Step 1. Select your filing status. If you want your federal withholding to be based only on the benefit amount you receive from NYSLRS, with no adjustments, you can skip steps 2 – 4.
Adjustments to Withholding (Dependents, Tax Credits)
Complete Steps 2 – 4 ONLY if they apply to you.
Step 2. If you have income from a job or more than one pension/annuity, in addition to your NYSLRS pension, or if you’re married filing jointly and your spouse receives income from a job or pension/annuity, you can enter that in Step 2.
If you prefer to send in a paper form, you can print, complete and submit our W-4P Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments form to update your withholding information, however paper forms take longer to process. Please be sure you are using the new form (revised 12/22), because NYSLRS will no longer accept previous versions of the W‑4P form.
If You Receive More Than One Benefit Payment from NYSLRS
NYSLRS administers two retirement systems — the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). It is possible to receive more than one benefit from one or both systems — as a retiree, a beneficiary or an ex-spouse who is receiving a benefit under a domestic relations order.
Generally, your withholding is tied to the retirement system. So, if your benefits are from the same system, you only need to submit your withholding information once and your preferences will be applied to all benefit payments you receive from that system. However, if you receive a benefit from both ERS and PFRS, you’ll need to submit a W-4P form for each system.
Your benefit payment pay stub will list whether the payment is from ERS or PFRS.
For More Information
Our Taxes and Your Pension page has additional information about withholding, including 1099-R tax form information, how to submit a paper W-4P form, what to do if you receive more than one benefit payment from NYSLRS and more.
If you need help completing the W-4P form, you can find phone numbers and online resources on the IRS Let Us Help You page.
Please note: Effective January 1, 2023, NYSLRS does not withhold federal income tax from benefits that are not subject to tax reporting.
New York Retirement News is dedicated to keeping NYSLRS members and retirees informed about developments that may affect their benefits. In case you missed them, or just want to take another look, here are some of our most popular blog posts from the past year.
Becoming Vested Becoming vested is a crucial milestone in your NYSLRS membership. Under legislation enacted in April 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members are now vested after five years of service. Previously, these members needed ten years of service credit to be eligible for a service retirement benefit.
Update Regarding Retiree Earnings Limit Normally, most NYSLRS retirees who return to work for a public employer are limited in how much they can earn before their pension would be suspended. The limit is $35,000 per calendar year, however, executive orders from the Governor and legislation temporarily suspended this limit. Read the blog post for current information.
Enhanced Death Benefit for Survivors of COVID-19 Victims Survivors of NYSLRS members who contract COVID-19 on the job may be entitled to an enhanced death benefit if the member dies as a result of the disease. This accidental death benefit covers eligible deaths through December 31, 2024.
Find Your Retirement Plan Publication Your retirement plan publication is an essential resource that provides comprehensive information about your NYSLRS benefits. It explains how long you’ll need to work to receive a pension, how your benefit is determined, what death and disability benefits may be available and more. Our new tool can help you find your plan publication.
What is a Defined Benefit Plan? As a NYSLRS member, you are part of a defined benefit plan, also known as a traditional pension plan. Defined benefit plans are often confused with defined contribution plans, but there are major differences between the two types of plans.
Service credit is one of the major factors in calculating your NYSLRS pension. You earn a year of service credit for each year of full-time employment with a participating employer. In some cases, you may also be able to request additional credit for past service, which could increase your pension amount.
You can request credit for past service if you:
Worked for a participating employer before joining NYSLRS;
Worked for a public employer that later participated in NYSLRS; or
Received an honorable discharge from active military duty.
In most cases, you have to pay to receive additional service credit. The sooner you purchase your credit, the less it will generally cost. You must apply for any additional service credit that you wish to receive before you retire. After you apply, we’ll determine whether you’re eligible for the credit and how much it would be.
Credit for Previous Public Employment
Additional service credit includes work for an employer who later joined NYSLRS, or for public employment before you became a NYSLRS member.
Example: You worked at the town library while going to school and, as a part-time employee, you chose not to join NYSLRS. When you graduated and took a full-time job at the Town Supervisor’s office, you were required to join. You can request credit for the part-time service at the library.
When you apply, you’ll be asked for the name of the employer and the approximate dates you worked there. We encourage you to submit any proof you may have of your previous service. We will also reach out to your former employer, but you may be able to expedite the process by providing payroll records such as W-2 forms or pay stubs to NYSLRS when you apply.
You must earn two years of service credit as a member before additional service can be credited to you.
Military Service Credit
If you served in the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible to purchase credit toward your retirement for your military service, regardless of whether your military service was before or after you joined NYSLRS.
There are different sections of the law that allow credit for military service. The amount of military service credit you can receive, and the cost (if any), will vary depending on which section of the law allows the credit. Reserve and National Guard service may qualify if it’s considered active duty.
For certain military service, you must have five years of member service credit before you can apply.
How to Request Additional Service Credit
You can apply for additional service credit and military service credit in Retirement Online. Sign in to your account, scroll down to the ‘My Account Summary’ section of your Account Homepage and click the “Manage My Service Purchases” button, then click “Request Additional Service Credit.” If you are applying for military service credit, select “Article 20 Military” when asked for your employer.
There may be other ways to increase your retirement service credit. If you had a previous membership in a New York State public retirement system and it was terminated, you may be able to reinstate your membership. If you still have an active membership in another public retirement system, but you are no longer working for the employer that participates in that retirement system, you may be able to transfer that membership to NYSLRS.
A word of caution — there are certain situations where purchasing additional service credit will not increase your pension. For example, special retirement plans for police officers and firefighters allow retirement after 20 or 25 years of service regardless of age, but not all types of public employment count toward the 20 or 25 years in these plans. Contact us if you have questions.
For more information about purchasing additional credit:
Retirement Online is a secure and convenient way for members to do business with NYSLRS. Submitting applications through Retirement Online speeds up the process and enables NYSLRS to serve more customers more quickly. Here’s a look at some of the things NYSLRS members (not yet retired) can do online.
View Your Account Information
Sign in to Retirement Online for easy access to key information about your NYSLRS account. On your Account Homepage, scroll down to the ‘Account Info’ section. There, you can find your date of membership, tier, retirement plan, estimated total service credit and more.
Update Your Contact Information
It’s important that we have your current contact information to make sure you receive the news, letters and statements that we send you. You can change your mailing address, phone number or email address in the ‘My Profile Information’ section of your Account Homepage. Just click “update” next to the item you’d like to change.
You can save time and reduce paper waste by going green and opting to receive information from NYSLRS electronically. Choose “E-mail” next to ‘Contact by,’ and when important information is ready for you to view in Retirement Online, we will send you an email to let you know.
View and Update Your Beneficiary
NYSLRS retirement plans provide death benefits for beneficiaries of eligible members who die before retiring. It’s a good idea to review your beneficiaries from time to time to make sure your choices reflect your current wishes. Retirement Online is the fastest way to add or remove beneficiaries or update beneficiary information. Click “Manage My Beneficiaries” on the right, under “I want to…”
Estimate Your Pension
How much will your pension be? It’s an important question as you’re planning for retirement. In just a few steps, most members can estimate their retirement benefit based on up-to-date account information, then save or print the estimate. Entering different dates and comparing the results can help you choose the retirement date that’s right for you. From your Account Homepage, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ section and click the “Estimate my Pension Benefit” button.
Apply for a Loan
It’s easy to apply for a loan in Retirement Online. If you are eligible to take a loan, you can see how much you can borrow, what your repayment options will be and whether your loan will be taxable — all before you apply. And, of course, if you decide to go ahead with the loan, you can apply online too. Click “Apply for a Loan” on the right, under “I want to…”
After you’ve received your loan, click the “Manage My Loans” button to adjust your payment amount or to make a one-time payment.
Request Credit for Previous Service
If you worked for a participating employer before joining NYSLRS, you may be able to purchase service credit for that time. You can use Retirement Online to request credit for previous public employment (and for military service) and to upload any supporting documentation. Click “Manage My Service Credit Purchases” to get started.
View Your Member Annual Statement
Your Member Annual Statement can help you understand your benefits. It’s a snapshot of your NYSLRS account based on the information we have on file for you as of March 31 each year, which is the close of our fiscal year. From your Account Homepage, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ area, click the “View My Member Annual Statement” button and follow the steps to view, print or save your Statement. While you’re there, consider updating your MAS preference to “email” in the ‘My Profile Information’ area of your Account Homepage to receive your Statements faster.
Generate a Mortgage Verification Letter
If you need to show your NYSLRS account information for a mortgage, just click the link under ‘I want to…’ to the right of ‘My Profile Information.’ You can print a document that shows your contribution balance, and, if you have an outstanding loan, the date of your last loan, the current balance and the interest rate.
Apply for Retirement
When you are ready to retire, Retirement Online allows you to skip the hassle of mailing paper forms or visiting our office. You can apply for a service retirement benefit, choose your pension payment option, sign up for direct deposit and submit retirement-related paperwork online. A big advantage of applying online is that you don’t have to get anything notarized. Read our Applying for Retirementblog post for more information and links to resources.
Other Online Transactions
If you previously were a member of another New York State public retirement system before joining NYSLRS, your service could be recredited and your date of membership and tier restored. You can click “Reinstate a Previous Membership” to get started.
If you leave public employment with less than ten years of service credit, you can use Retirement Online to withdraw your membership. However, this will terminate your membership with NYSLRS, so you may wish to speak with a customer service representative before you submit your withdrawal application if you have any questions. You can call them at 866-805-0990 or message them using our secure contact form.