Tier 3 & 4 Members: When Is The Right Time To Retire?

Tier 3 and 4 members qualify for retirement benefits after they’ve earned five years of credited service. Once you’re vested, you have a right to a NYSLRS retirement benefit — even if you leave public employment. Though guaranteed, the size of that benefit can vary.

Three Reasons to Keep Working

  1. Age 55 is the earliest that Tier 3 and 4 members can claim their benefits. However, unless you have 30 years of service, a significant penalty for such an early retirement is imposed — a 27-percent reduction. The longer you wait to retire, the greater your benefit will be. At age 62, you can retire with your full benefits.
  2. Your final average salary (FAS) is a significant factor in the calculation of your pension benefit. Since working longer usually means a higher FAS, continued public employment can increase your pension.
  3. The other part of your retirement calculation is your service credit. More service credit obviously earns you a larger pension benefit, but after 20 years, it also gets you a better pension formula. For Tier 3 and 4 members, if you retire with less than 20 years of service, the formula is FAS × 1.66% × years of service; between 20 and 30 years, the formula becomes FAS × 2.00% × years of service.

When is the Right Time to Retire?

If You’re Not Working, Here’s Something to Consider

Everyone’s situation is unique. For example, if you’re vested, you no longer work for a public employer and you don’t think you will again, retiring at 55 might make sense. When you do the math, full benefits at age 62 will take 19 years to match the money you’d have received retiring at age 55 — even with the reduction.

Tools To Help Make Your Decision

Here are two ways to decide what makes sense for you:

  1. Our online retirement benefit calculator allows most members to estimate their benefit with different retirement dates, FAS and service credit totals. By changing each variable, you can see the impact it may have on your benefit.
  2. If you’re a Tier 3 or 4 member with five or more years of service credit, you can request an estimate based on your actual salary and service reported to date. If you’re age 50 or older, we can include additional, projected service credit based on a date of retirement up to five years in the future.

To request your estimate, contact our Call Center toll-free at 1-866-805-0990 or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area. You can also send us a Request for Estimate (RS6030) form.

This post has focused on Tier 3 and 4 members. To see how early retirement affects members in other tiers, visit our About Benefit Reductions page.

63 thoughts on “Tier 3 & 4 Members: When Is The Right Time To Retire?

  1. Lisa

    I have 22 years in and I’m in Tier 4 with physical taxing and I’ll be 42. I would to like to retire now. Will I be able to?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      As a Tier 4 member, unless you are in a special plan that allows retirement after 20 or 25 years regardless of age, you must be at least 55 years old to retire and collect a NYSLRS service retirement benefit.

      If you are permanently disabled and cannot perform your duties because of a physical or mental condition, you may be eligible for a disability retirement benefit.

      For account-specific questions, please email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of them will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  2. Peter

    i am a tier 4 member with 20 yrs of service. Although I know there are penalties and I can not collect my benefit until I am at least 55 can I “retire” before 55? Not sure how all this works. Hope this isn’t a dumb question.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If you are a vested member of a regular retirement plan, and you leave public employment before age 55, you can begin collecting your pension once you turn 55.

      You should be aware that if you leave public employment before you are old enough to receive a pension, you may lose certain retiree benefits, such as death benefits. You should contact our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area) for more information. You should also speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how health benefits would be affected.

      Please note: Your pension is not automatic; you must apply for retirement to receive a benefit. You can file for retirement using Retirement Online. For more information, please read our booklet What if I Leave Public Employment?

      Reply
  3. Anthony

    I’m tier 4…I started working at 22. I’ll have 20 years when I’m 52. If I resign from my job at 52 (30 years) can I wait three years to then officially retire? and not have any penalties?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      A Tier 4 member with 30 years of service credit can receive a NYSLRS retirement benefits at 55 without penalty, even if they left public employment before they were eligible to retire.

      However, leaving public service before retirement may affect other benefits. You may wish to read our booklet What if I Leave Public Employment? for more information, and email us using the secure form on our website if you have questions. You may also wish to speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how leaving employment before retirement might affect your health benefits.

      Reply
  4. Larry

    Im a tier 4 with 18 years in the pension system. I have been thinking about retiring at 20 years. I will be 42 years old then. Can I do that? If so I can’t start to collect until I turn 55?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      With ten years of service, you’ll be eligible for a NYSLRS pension even if you leave public service before retirement age. However, most NYSLRS members must be at least 55 years old to begin receiving a pension.

      For account-specific information, please email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  5. Rosemary Spano

    I have asked this question several times at NYSERS workshops and no one seems to know anything about it. I am referring to the Windfall Elimination Provision of Social Security. I am told that when I retire and start collecting my pension, due to the fact that the Williamsville district does not pay enough , therefore not enough ss was taken out of my paychecks, they will reduce my social security by almost half. They consider my pension a windfall. Which is crazy because it will not be anywhere near what I am making and taking that much ss away from me will put me in the poverty level where I will have to go on medicaid. How is this helping? I am in my 33rd year and am afraid to retire and put myself in this position. Social security sends me a form several times a year asking me when I will retire. I reply NEVER due to the WEP. This form also lists the amounts of salary for each year as a parameter, and I fall short each year by a couple thousand dollars. Right now I am collecting my regular pay and my full social security. Would it not have been better for them to reduce my ss while I was working and give me my full amount when I retire? Anyone else out there in this predicament?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Your question and circumstances would be better addressed by the Social Security Administration. You can call them at 1-800-772-1213.

      Reply
  6. Melody A Beecher

    I am 58 with 19 years of service to date. I was recently told by our school representative, that as a Tier 4 member, as long as I wait until age 62 to retire, at which time I will have 23 credit years of service, there would be no penalty and I would receive full benefits the same as if I had 30 years, ie 60% of my FAS. Based on own my interpretation, I thought I would be entitled to only 23 x 2%, or 46% of my FAS. Although I am fairly certain this is correct, I just want to clarify, as I only read throughout the benefits information package, “At age 62, you can retire with your full benefits”, which doesn’t fully explain this.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      A Tier 3 or 4 member who retires at age 62 with 23 years of service credit will receive 2 percent of their final average salary for each year of service (for a total of 46 percent of FAS). “Full benefits” means there would be no penalty for early retirement.

      Most members can use the pension benefit calculator on our website to estimate your pension based on information you enter. You can enter different retirement dates, final average salaries and service credit totals to compare different outcomes.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Final Average Salary (FAS) is the average of the highest three (five for Tier 6) consecutive years of earnings. The years used in calculating your FAS are usually your last three years of employment, and they do not need to correspond to the calendar year, the State fiscal year or hiring date.

      Reply
  7. David Martin

    I’m trying to figure out if taking 41j for my sick time is better than taking a buy out. I have 265 sick days banked and 35 years of service. Is there a formula that calculates what your pension would be with and without 41j service credit? I realize a lot of it can depend on how long you live, but if you picked an arbitrary number of years like 15 years someone should be able to calculate the difference. This is simply an investment question.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You can find out how unused, unpaid sick leave may affect your pension calculation by reading our blog post titled What Unused Sick Leave Might Mean For You at Retirement. Once you know approximately how much service your sick leave would provide, you can use our online calculator to estimate your pension with and without the additional service.

      For account-specific information, please email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If you are in a retirement plan that allows for retirement with no reduction at age 62, there’s no waiting period after you turn 62.

      We recommend that you contact our customer service representatives to ask any account-specific questions you may have before you choose a date. You can email them using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      You may also find our publication, How Do I Prepare to Retire, helpful. It’s available at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/vo1709.php.

      Reply
  8. AJ

    If i have 21.5 years of service (tier 4) and I just turned 58, If I decide to leave public service (retire) from what I have been reading(not sure I am interpreting correctly) my FAS X .02 X 21.5 years will be penalized by 18%. Will I be collecting my pension immediately upon leaving public service at the 18% reduction? Or will I be penalized further? What is confusing to me is, age is a variable. In other words, If a person who is five years older starts working same day I do, and if we retire same day 21.5 years of service. The person who has same amount of time in service but is older will make more money because he was not penalized. It is very hard to understand. Can anyone shed light on this. I would greatly appreciate. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You are correct, for most members, age is a factor in retirement benefit calculations.
      If you are a Tier 4 member with less than 30 years of service, and you retire (collect your pension) before age 62, your pension will be permanently reduced. Whether you collect your pension immediately upon leaving public service is up to you. You can delay taking your pension and continue working till you turn 62 and receive a full benefit.

      Tier 4 members can use our Benefit Projector Calculator to estimate what your benefit would be at different retirement dates. You may also be interested in our publication What If I Leave Public Employment?

      Reply
  9. Cynthia Johnson

    Just curious as to how much my benefit would be reduced if I left state service at age 54 with 30 years state service? I can’t seem to find any information about leaving before 55 with 30 years in.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Most NYSLRS members must be at least 55 to collect a pension. If you are considering leaving payroll before you retire, you should contact our customer service representatives to discuss how that would affect your NYSLRS benefits. We would also recommend that you speak to your health benefits administrator to find out how any post-retirement health benefits would be affected.

      For account-specific information, please email our customer service representatives using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. You may also wish to read our publication What If I Leave Public Employment?

      Reply
  10. Dan

    I would like to retire at 55, with less than 30 service, but not collect benefits until I am 62. Do I need to wait until 62 to fill out my paperwork or can I fill it out at 55 and defer benefits? My concern is for my wife if I die between 55 and 62. I want to make sure she continues to receive my retirement check if I die first. But if I die between 55 and 62 and haven’t filled out retirement paperwork then I assume she would loose out on the ability to collect my retirement benefits.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You cannot submit an application for retirement benefits more than 90 days before your retirement date.
      If you are considering going off the payroll and waiting to collect your pension, you should speak to a customer service representative about how that would affect your benefits. For example, depending on your retirement plan, you may need to retire (collect your pension) within a certain amount of time after leaving the payroll to maintain eligibility for certain death benefits.
      You can email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com), and one of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.
      You may also want to speak to your employer health benefits administrator to find out how leaving payroll and waiting to collect your pension would affect your health benefits.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Assuming you are in the regular ERS Article 15 retirement plan, for each year of service beyond 30 years, you’ll receive 1.5 percent of your final average salary (FAS) with no maximum percentage. For the first 30 years, you’d receive 60 percent of your FAS.

      You can find information about your pension benefit in your plan publication.

      For information about your specific situation, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Under most Tier 4 retirement plans, you must be 62 years old (or have 30 years of service credit) to retire with your full benefit. However, you may retire as early as age 55 with a reduction for early retirement. The specific amount of the reduction varies by age.

      For information about your particular situation, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  11. Roseanne Nadrich

    This may sound like a strange question, but is there a MANDATORY age for retirement under Tier 4? My municipality is forcing us to retire upon our 65th birthday. Is there any law governing that limitation?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Certain retirement plans may have a mandatory retirement age, but unfortunately, the NYSLRS Social Media Team does not have access to your account information to determine if they apply to you.

      To get the account specific information you need, we recommend emailing our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Generally, unless you retire under a disability retirement, earnings are unlimited for retirees if they are self-employed; work for a private employer; work for another state or its political subdivisions; or work for the federal government.

      For more information, we suggest reading our Life Changes: What If I Work After Retirement? publication.

      Reply
  12. Russ Zocco

    this is very confusing to me. I am a Tier 4 member. It is my understanding that as a Tier 4 you can retire at age 55 with 30 years of service and receive 60% of your final highest average salary. Why is it being explained that full retirement is at age 62? That is simply not accurate. Please explain. Thank you

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You are correct that Tier 4 members in the Employees Retirement System with 30 years of service credit can retire at age 55 without a benefit reduction. And, yes; with 30 years of service, your calculation would be 60 percent of your FAS.

      However, members retiring before age 62 without 30 years of service credit would see a significant reduction in their benefits as shown in the graphic.

      Reply
  13. Cheryl Darrow

    I will be 59 on October 5th and will have 30 years of service in September. Will I qualify for my full benefit at that time? I would love to retire at the end of October. Which day would be best to go? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If you are an ERS member in Tier 3 or 4 and over age 55, you will be eligible for your full retirement benefit once you reach 30 years of service.

      Which day you retire is up to you, but if you are thinking of retiring this year, you may want to contact our Customer Service Representatives to request a benefit projection or discuss your options.

      To get the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com), and one of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  14. Todd Schall

    “the formula for the first 20 years is FAS × 1.66% × years of service; between 20 and 30 years”

    I understood that when you reach 20 years of service, all of your years are then calculated at 2.00%?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      You are right. When you reach 20 years of service, the first 20 years of service are calculated at 2 percent instead of 1.66 percent. We apologize for the confusion, and we have updated the blog to make that clear. Thank you.

      Reply
  15. Charles Rodenas

    Is there any chance of a State financial incentive and or County incentive to induce state and County workers to retire and reduce payroll? Word is the State is offering a buyout. Is this true?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      At this time, we’re not aware of any discussions about 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.

      Non-State employers (such as Counties) may choose to offer incentives to their employees, however, it’s important to note that these individual employer incentives will not affect a member’s NYSLRS pension benefits.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      That depends on your situation. If you are a Tier 3 or 4 member with 30 years of service, you can retire at 55 with no reduction to your benefits. But if you continue to work till 62, you will accrue additional service credit, which would increase your benefit.

      However, if you were to leave public service at 55, your benefit would not increase if you waited until 62 to apply for retirement.
      Our online retirement benefit calculator allows most members to estimate their benefit with different retirement dates, final average salaries and service credit totals. By changing each variable, you can see the impact it may have on your benefit.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Pension benefits are paid on a monthly basis, at the end of every month. For example, we send out May’s payment at the end of May.

      If your benefit is paid by direct deposit, you will have access to it on the last business day of each month. If your benefit is paid by check, we will mail it on the second-to-last business day of each month.

      For specific pension payment dates, check out our Pension Payment Calendar page.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you’re an ERS member, starting in 2008 would place you Tier 4. Tier 4 members only need five full-time years of service credit to earn a retirement benefit.

      However, there is also an age requirement: You must be at least 55 years old to qualify for a retirement benefit. And, to receive your full benefit, you must be 62 years old at retirement. If you retire before 62 with less than 30 years of service, you will receive a reduced benefit.

      For account-specific information, we recommend emailing our customer service representatives using our secure email form (see link below). One of our representatives will review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      http://www.emailNYSLRS.com

      Reply
  16. Sue

    If I leave State service before 55 when I do file on my 55th birthday will my dad still be based on leaving with 30 days vac?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Actually, a recent blog post tackles filing for retirement.

      If you are a Tier 3, 4, 5, or ERS Tier 6 member, you are eligible for a benefit on your 55th birthday. You can submit your retirement application 15 to 90 days before you turn 55. If you are off payroll and you submit your application on or after your 55th birthday, your application will be effective immediately upon filing with this office.

      Assuming you’re a Tier 3 or 4 ERS member, your lump-sum vacation payout will still count towards your final average salary (FAS), even if you go off state payroll, as long as your FAS is based on your last three years of service. Learn more in the ERS Tier 3 and 4 retirement plan book.

      For more detailed, account-specific information, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      Reply
  17. D. C.

    According to #3 above, for Tier 3 and 4 members, “the formula for the first 20 years is FAS × 1.66% × years of service; between 20 and 30 years, the formula becomes FAS × 2.00% × years of service”. How to understand the “first 20 years” here? If an employee has 30 years of service, the formula is “(FAS x 1.66% x 20) + (FAS x 2% x10)” OR “FAS x 2% x 30”? Please clarify. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      In this case, if a member has less than 20 years of service, the formula is:
      FAS x 1.66% x total years of service.

      If a member has 20 to 30 years of service, the formula is:
      FAS x 2% x total years of service.

      If a member has 30 or more years of service, the formula is:
      FAS x 2% x 30 PLUS FAS x 1.5% X each year beyond 30 years.

      Reply
      1. R.T

        Hello. It the last sentence accurate? The Comptroller’s website says: •For each year of credited service beyond 30 years, you will receive 1.5 percent of your FAS.

        Example shown:
        35,000 × 2% × 30 years = $21,000 per year
        plus
        $35,000 × 1.5% × 1 year = $525 per year
        = $21,525 per year or
        $1,794 per month

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          ERS Tier 3 and 4 members who have reached 30 years of service receive 1.5 percent of their final average salary (FAS) for each additional year of service. So a member with 31 years would receive a retirement benefit equal to 61.5 percent of their FAS.

          Reply
          1. JJT

            Hello,

            I had same question as previous commenter RT did when reading your April 5, 2017 comment: That comment says:

            “If a member has 30 or more years of service, the formula is:
            FAS x 2% x total years of service PLUS FAS x 1.5% X each year beyond 30 years.”

            But what I believe it should say is:

            “If a member has 30 or more years of service, the formula is:
            FAS x 2% x 30 YEARS of service PLUS FAS x 1.5% X each year beyond 30 years.”

            Your follow up comment on May 4th saying that someone with 31 years of service would have 61.5 percent of FAS does appear to be the correct info, but that is different than than the first info I quoted above.

        2. Dave Lapinel

          I just had a change in employment which raises my salary more than 10%. I am just short of 62, with over 30 years service credit. Do I now have to work 5 more years to benefit from the increase in terms of my FAS?

          Reply
  18. Patti Tifft

    At age 55 I will have 35 yrs of service. I understand there will NOT be a penalty for retiring at this age, other people which have retired at ages 58 or 60 indicated they have been informed if they were to continue to work another year or two, they gain an additional $500 to $800 dollars more a year and have been told by the person advising them it isn’t worth the additional years working for that amount of money. Is this truly the case? The additional years only adds maybe $500? If so, then I feel retiring at 55 is the answer since I could find a part time job and make that amount of money and enjoy more down time.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Benefits and reductions vary significantly by tier and plan. We have two ways to help you compare your specific pension benefits at age 55 versus 58 or 60:

      1. Our online retirement benefit calculator allows most members to estimate their benefit with different retirement dates, salary and service credit totals. By changing each variable, you’ll be able to see the impact it may have on your benefit.
      2. If you are over 50 years old, you can email us using our secure contact form (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com) to request benefit projections based on your salary and service reported to date. Benefit projections can also be requested through our automated phone line by calling 1-866-805-0990. To hear the member menu, press 3, then 1 for the Employees’ Retirement System or 2 for the Police and Fire Retirement System, and then press 4 for the benefit projector.
      Reply
  19. Tom

    I have 30 yrs of service credit and will be 54 yoa in June.
    Will I be penalized if I quite my job and start collecting my retirement next year when I turn 55?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you leave public service, you may apply for a retirement benefit at age 55. However, certain benefits could be affected if you don’t retire directly from the public payroll.

      Unfortunately, the NYSLRS Social Media team doesn’t have access to members’ account information. To get the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of our representatives will review your account and get back to you. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      In addition, you may want to speak with New York State Civil Service or your employer’s health insurance benefit administrator for information about your health insurance benefits. (Please note: NYSLRS does not administer health insurance benefits for its members or retirees). If you participate in the New York State Deferred Compensation plan, you may also wish to speak with one of their representatives.

      Reply
  20. GW

    and yet sometimes if the organization wants you to retire early they make it difficult to work longer and they do – do it and it’s not up to the employee Sad but true- saw it happen too many times

    Reply

Leave a Reply