Tier status is a major factor in determining your NYSLRS retirement benefits. Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members who joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012, are in Tier 6. They have plenty of company. There were 285,750 ERS Tier 6 members as of March 31, 2020, making up nearly 45 percent of ERS membership.
ERS Tier 6 members contribute to the Retirement System based on their earnings, but the amount of their pensions will be determined by years of service and final average salary, not by the amount of their contributions.
ERS Tier 6 Membership Milestones
ERS Tier 6 members need ten years of service credit to become vested. Once vested, they’re eligible for a lifetime pension benefit as early as age 55, but if they retire before the full retirement age of 63, their benefit will be reduced. Tier 6 correction officers, however, can retire with 25 years of service, regardless of age, without penalty.
The Final Average Earnings (FAE) Calculation
An ERS Tier 6 member’s final average earnings is the average of their earnings in the five highest-paid consecutive years of employment. Earnings in any year included in the period cannot exceed the average earnings of the previous four years by more than 10 percent.
Tier 6 Service Retirement Benefit
Generally, if an ERS Tier 6 member retires with less than 20 years, the benefit is 1.66 percent of their FAE for each year of service. If a member retires with exactly 20 years of service, the benefit is 1.75 percent of their FAE for each year of service (35 percent of the member’s FAE).
If a member retires with more than 20 years of service, they receive 35 percent for the first 20 years, plus 2 percent for each additional year. For example, a member with 35 years of service can retire at 63 with a pension worth 65 percent of their FAE.
If you’re an ERS Tier 6 member, you can find out more about your benefits in one of these plan booklets: