Working After Retirement: Retiree Earnings Limit

Working After Retirement: Retiree Earnings Limit

As a NYSLRS retiree, you can work and still receive your pension, but you should be aware there may be a limit on how much you can earn each year without affecting your NYSLRS pension. Whether the earnings limit applies to you depends on:

  • Whether you receive a service retirement or disability retirement;
  • Whether you will be working for a New York State public employer, private employer (yourself or other); and
  • Your age.

Please read the information below carefully to find out more.

Working While Receiving a Service Retirement Benefit

An earnings limit of $35,000 generally applies to NYSLRS retirees who:

  • Are under age 65;
  • Receive a service retirement benefit (see disability benefit rules below); and
  • Return to work for a public employer (including contract or consultant work, if you joined NYSLRS on or after May 31, 1973).

2024 Update Regarding the Earnings Limit

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, NYS executive orders suspended the earnings limit. The last order expired in June 2023. This means for most retirees under the age of 65, the $35,000 limit applies to the entire calendar year starting 2024.

The earnings limit for retirees employed by school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), however, is suspended through June 30, 2024. The earnings limit suspension for school employees does not apply to retirees who work for a college, university or charter school.

There is no earnings limit if you are self-employed or if you work for:

  • The federal government;
  • A state or local government in another state; or
  • A private employer.

Also, beginning in the calendar year you turn 65, the earnings limit no longer applies.

Note: Special rules apply to elected officials.

Working While Receiving a Disability Retirement Benefit

Almost all earnings for retirees who are working while receiving a disability retirement benefit are limited whether they work for a public or private employer. The limit is specific to each retiree. To find out your earnings limit, please contact us.

How the Limit Applies

The limit applies to all earnings for the calendar year, including money earned in the calendar year, but paid in a different calendar year (for example earned in December but paid in January).

The limit does not apply to:

  • Payments received after you retire from your employer, such as for vacation or sick time you earned when you were still working; and/or
  • A retroactive payment for a new union contract, if the earnings are for employment before you retired.

Reporting Your Earnings

It is your responsibility to notify NYSLRS if you earn more than the limit. If you know you are going to exceed the limit, contact us at least a month before you do.

You can message us using the secure contact form, or you can fax a letter to 518-402-2498. Be sure to include the name of your employer, the approximate date you expect to exceed the limit and a daytime phone number in case we have questions.

If You Exceed the Limit

If you earn more than the limit, you must:

  • Pay back NYSLRS for the pension payments you received after the date you reached the limit. If you continue to work, your pension will be suspended for the remainder of the calendar year and resume the following January.

    OR

  • Rejoin NYSLRS, in which case your pension will be suspended until you retire again at some future date. (You’d need to reapply.)

Earnings Limit Waiver

Under Section 211 of the Retirement and Social Security Law, the earnings limit can be waived if your prospective employer gets approval before hiring you. Approval is not automatic; it is based on the employer’s needs and your qualifications. In most cases, the New York State Department of Civil Service would be the approving agency. A Section 211 waiver covers a fixed period, normally up to two years.

For More Information

Before you decide to return to work, please read our publication What If I Work After Retirement? It includes information such as how earnings limits are calculated for retirees receiving a disability retirement benefit, consequences to consider before returning to NYSLRS membership and more. If you have questions, please contact us.

21 thoughts on “Working After Retirement: Retiree Earnings Limit

  1. Bradley Canning

    If I am currently earning a salary of $80,000 and I chose to retire on June 30th, does that mean I cannot get a part time municipal job until January 1st as I have earned $40,000 for this year? Or does the $35,000 cap apply to July 1-Dec 31?

    Reply
  2. Frederick E Cornelius

    I am a retiree and I am self-employed through an LLC. The LLC does receive money from different municipalities for work performed for them. I get 1099’s from those municipalities. Does this self-employment income count toward the cap?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Generally, pay earned from a public employer as a contractor or consultant is subject to the earnings limit.

      For account-specific information about how this may apply in your situation, please message our customer service representatives using our secure contact form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  3. BrianP

    A starting comment like “Return to work for a public employer (including contract or consultant work, if you joined NYSLRS on or after May 31, 1973)” seems over encompassing since later its admitted that this doesn’t apply non-NY public employers and the Feds. Why not be more specific up front – you seem to mean NY public employers.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      A 1099-R is the tax form used to report the distribution of taxable retirement benefits. If you received a W-2, you may wish to speak to the employer it was sent from.

      In January, NYSLRS mailed 1099-R tax forms to retirees who receive a taxable benefit from NYSLRS and did not change their delivery preference to email.

      If you have account-specific questions, please contact the NYSLRS Call Center at 866-805-0990, press 2 and follow the prompts. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

      Reply
  4. David Galarneau

    As with everything else, retirement promises made can be changed or broken without repercussions’ unless you have plenty of $$ to fight it. Of course, if you depend on a pension to survive, having plenty of $$ is rare. When first joining the retirement system, Tier 4, I was told the pension is 2% per year served, based on highest 3 years of income (FAS). I understood this to mean, as an example: 35 years served, with highest 3-year average of 100,000 means a pension of 70,000 (35×2%x100,000). Since then, it has become a moving target. The highest 3 years’ salary cannot be more than 10% of the average of the next 2 highest. The 2% per year became, in short, 2% up to 30 years and 1.66% for each over 30. That has been recently changed to 1.5% for each year over 30. Even ignoring the FAS calculations, if a Tier 4 member has a 100,000 FAS, and serves 35 years, they originally expected a pension of 70,000. As it is now, the pension is only 67,500. The 2,500 annual shortfall becomes 25,000 if a retiree lives 10 years after retiring. Are my suspicions correct or not?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The calculation of your pension benefit depends on both your tier and your specific plan. You can find your NYSLRS retirement plan publication for a comprehensive description of the benefits provided by your plan—including your pension calculation.

      For information about FAE, check our Final Average Earnings page.

      For questions about your specific circumstances, please message our customer service representatives using our secure contact form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
      1. TOM D

        Dave G above is correct I went down to state street last march to get my #’s and compared to the #s to the online calculator, the person at NYS RETIREMENT said the difference was 1240 a month less, than what the online calculator said i was going to earn on Retirement, I could see maybe a 400 or 500 difference but $1240 is a big difference, I’m thinking he was a newer employee and didn’t calculate correctly. Like Dave I’m at 35.5 half years of service and 55 and still going till July. I should be at 56090 as a FAS and State St said I was at 49k

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          We’d like to help resolve your issue. Your message is important to us, and we have sent you a private message in response.

          Reply
  5. Lisa Tag

    I am retired and working F-status for the 2024 calendar year in a NYC school.
    Are my earnings unlimited until June 2024 and then the cap goes into effect from 7/1/24- 12/31/24 ( it makes a difference) OR does it begin 1/1/24-12/31/24?
    Thank you for your guidance!

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      The earnings limit for NYSLRS retirees working for a school district or BOCES is suspended through June 30, 2024. Money earned while the limit is suspended does not count toward the usual post-retirement earnings limit of $35,000 per calendar year. The earnings limit suspension for school employees does not apply to retirees who work for a college, university or charter school.

      You can find more general information in our publication What If I Work After Retirement?

      For information specific to your situation, 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.

      Reply
    2. Michael C.

      Great question, Lisa Tag. I’m in the same position and was thinking about this important question. Not knowing the correct answer could cause a big problem! Thanks to NYSLRS for clarifying.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      For most retirees under the age of 65, the $35,000 limit applies to the entire 2024 calendar year. The earnings limit for retirees employed by school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) is suspended through June 30, 2024.

      We are not aware of any legislation or plan by the Governor to extend the retiree earnings limit waiver for school district and BOCES employees beyond June 30, 2024.

      If there are future developments concerning the earnings limit, we will update this blog post.

      Reply
      1. Ray

        I hope that there is someone lobbying on our behalf to increase this ridiculous earning limit of $35,000 to $50,000 or the current extension is extended again. I know that I will leave my job at the school if it means that I will lose thousands in retirement pay. $35,000….what a joke!!

        Reply
        1. Dean Perry

          You are so right…I don’t understand why the teachers are any different to begin with…and yes they need to bump it up to 50.000 i don’t understand why we’re getting punished anyway its ridiculous

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Generally, beginning in the calendar year you turn 65, the earnings limit no longer applies.

      You can find general information in our publication What If I Work After Retirement?

      For information specific to your situation, 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.

      Reply
  6. Don Dennie

    Raise the limit. In Corrections, they can’t get people to fill the positions so they raise the part time pay but then can only work 20 hours a week. Saving all that money paying the benefits but can’t raise the limit. Just not fiscally smart in the long run. Hire all the retirees back part-time but raise what they can make. Save the state money hiring the new hires they can find.

    Reply

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