Most of us will change jobs over our lifetimes, and some of us will leave public employment before retirement. But if you leave the public workforce, what will become of your NYSLRS retirement benefits?
NYSLRS has published a booklet to provide guidance in that situation. What If I Leave Public Employment? outlines what happens with your benefits and details your rights and responsibilities. If you recently left public employment or plan to leave in the future, here are some key points the publication can help you understand.
If You Leave Public Employment, Will You Still Get a Pension?
If you’re vested, you can collect a NYSLRS pension when you reach retirement age. NYSLRS members are vested once they have five years of service credit. Most vested members can apply for a pension as early as age 55, but their pension may be reduced if they take it before full retirement age (62 or 63).
What if You End Your Membership?
If you’re not vested, you can end your membership and get a refund of your contribution balance, which includes accumulated interest.
After you have been off the public payroll for 15 days, you can request a refund by filing a withdrawal application.
If you leave public employment with more than five years of service but less than ten years, you have the option to either apply for a retirement benefit once you reach retirement age or withdraw your contributions. You cannot withdraw your contributions once you have ten years of service.
If you’re not vested and you don’t withdraw your contributions, they will continue to earn 5 percent interest for seven years. If you’re still off the public payroll after seven years, your membership will automatically end. Your contributions will be deposited into a non-interest account but will not be refunded to you automatically. You must file a withdrawal application to receive them.
If you end your membership, you will no longer be eligible for any NYSLRS benefits. There may also be tax consequences to withdrawing your contributions.
What are Your Responsibilities?
If you leave public employment, but remain a member, it’s your responsibility to notify us of any address changes. You will also need to keep your beneficiary information current.
Please read What If I Leave Public Employment? to get the full story on leaving public employment.
Does it have to be your last 3 highest consecutive years before you retire? Or can it be any of your highest years you achieved before retirement?
Final average earnings (FAE) is the average of the highest three or five (depending on your tier) consecutive years of earnings. For most members, the highest earnings come in the last years of employment, but they can come any time in your career.
The earnings used toward your pension calculation may be limited depending on your tier. You can read our Final Average Earnings blog post for more information.
i would like to buy back some of my previous time
You may be able to purchase service credit if you have previous public employment or military service.
You can request credit for previous public employment or military service, and upload any supporting documentation, using Retirement Online. If you don’t already have an account, go to the Sign In page and click the Sign Up link under the Customer Sign In button.
You can find more information on our web page, Get Credit for All Your Public Service.
For account-specific questions about purchasing credit for previous service, please email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.