Monthly Archives: September 2015

How To Keep Your NYSLRS Records Up-to-date

NYSLRS specialists are here to assist you as you plan and get ready for retirement. However, if your records are incomplete or incorrect, it can cause delays later on. We need your help to make sure your personal information is correct and accurate. So whether you have just recently joined NYSLRS or have been a member for a number of years, here are some instances where you should get in touch with us right away:

  • Let us know when your mailing address changes. This is especially important if you leave public employment before becoming eligible for retirement. Having your correct address on file will help us keep you up-to-date about benefits. Just complete our Change of Address Form (RS5512) and return it to us.
  • Report any date of birth errors. Let us know if your date of birth is incorrect on any official documents or paperwork we send you. You can write to our Member & Employer Services Bureau Registration Unit, 110 State Street, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12244-0001 to correct your date of birth, and include any supporting documentation (such as your birth certificate). You don’t need to send us an original document to prove your birthdate, but if you do, we’ll return it to you.
  • Name changes. You can change your name by submitting a Name Change Notice Form (RS5483). A signed letter requesting such a change is also acceptable. (If a court order was required for the change, a copy of the court order must be submitted.)
  • Naming or changing your beneficiary. If you wish to update your beneficiaries, you must complete a Designation of Beneficiary Form (RS5127) and send it to us. Please list all beneficiaries you wish to designate. Remember, submitting a new designation of beneficiary form replaces any previous designations you made.

You can read more about your obligations as a NYSLRS member in our publication, Membership in a Nutshell.

Choosing a Beneficiary

Here’s what to consider.

Designating a beneficiary is a choice you must make and revisit throughout your career. This decision requires some careful thought. If you die while working, the beneficiaries you choose may receive certain benefits. If you want to make a beneficiary change, make sure you’re aware of who can be named as your beneficiary.

Types of Beneficiaries

Choosing a beneficiary There are two types of beneficiaries you can name: primary and contingent. A primary beneficiary receives your death benefit. You have the option to name more than one primary beneficiary. If you chose to do this, each primary would share the benefit equally.

Example:

If you listed your spouse and child as primary beneficiaries, your family would receive:

  • Spouse: 50 percent of benefit
  • Child: 50 percent of benefit

But you can also state specific percentages of how you’d want the benefit paid out to primary beneficiaries. Just keep in mind that the percentages must add up to 100 percent. (This applies to contingent beneficiaries also.)

A contingent beneficiary only receives a benefit if all your primaries die before you. You can have primary and contingent beneficiaries, but a contingent may only get a benefit if there are no primaries to choose from. If you outlive your primary and contingent beneficiaries and haven’t named anyone new, your benefit will go to your estate.

Special Beneficiary Designations

Your beneficiary doesn’t have to be a person – you could also name your estate, trust, or an organization to receive your benefit.

  • Estate. The executor of your estate will receive your benefit to be distributed according to your will. You can make your estate a primary or contingent beneficiary, but if you name it your primary, you can’t name a contingent.
  • Trust. If you name your trust as a beneficiary, keep in mind that the trust is the beneficiary, not the individual you established the trust for. If you cancel the trust or it expires, it won’t be a valid beneficiary anymore. (You may also want to speak with your attorney if you’re thinking about making your trust a beneficiary.)
  • Organizations. You can name any charitable, civic, religious, educational or health-related entity as a beneficiary. Please provide the organization’s full name and address if you name them a beneficiary.

You can read more about beneficiaries in our publication, Life Changes: Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary?

NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time: ERS Tier 6

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you’re assigned a tier based on the date of your membership. There are six tiers in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and five in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Each tier has a different benefit structure established by New York State legislation. Our series, NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time, walks through each tier to give you a quick look at the benefits in both ERS and PFRS.

Today’s post looks at ERS Tier 6, which includes anyone who joined ERS since April 1, 2012. There were 166,532 ERS Tier 6 members as of March 31, 2017, making them the second largest tier group in ERS.

The graphic below illustrates basic retirement information for Tier 6 members.

ERS Tier 6

Where to Find More ERS Tier 6 Information

ERS Tier 6 members can find more details about their benefits in the publications listed below:

For benefit information about special plans for other job titles, please visit our Publications page.

Stay tuned for more NYSLRS – One Tier at a Time posts. Want to learn more about the different NYSLRS retirement tiers? Check out some earlier posts in the series:

What is Your Net Worth?

Using Financial Literacy to Plan for Retirement

Becoming familiar with your finances is an essential part of retirement planning. By understanding how you spend, save, or invest your money, you can plan ahead and work for the type of lifestyle you want in retirement. Once you’ve retired, you can continue to check your saving and spending to keep making good financial decisions for the future.

One important step you can take is to figure out your net worth. Your net worth shows your current financial status, like reading a report card for your finances. You can see where you’re doing well or where you can improve. Once you have that information, you can get a head start on retirement planning.

“Worth” Noting: According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2010, the average net worth per person in America was $182,000. By comparison, according to Forbes, the net worth of Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates was $76.8 billion as of August 27, 2015.

How to Calculate Net Worth

The way to calculate your net worth is simple:

net worth = total assets – total liabilities

Your total assets are items of value that you own. These can be things like:

  • Your house
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Investments

Total liabilities are money that you owe. If you still owe money on a mortgage, credit cards, or loans, these all add up to your liabilities. (This net worth article from the Wall Street Journal has other assets and liabilities to consider.) If your total liabilities (what you owe) equal more than your total assets (what you own), you’d have a negative net worth.

Why Net Worth Is Important To Retirement Planning

Your net worth will change over the course of your life. A negative net worth might not mean you’re in financial trouble, it just means at that moment in time you have more debts than assets. This means you’d need to start thinking of ways to increase your assets and/or lower your liabilities to work with your financial goals. If you make a habit of checking your net worth, you can start seeing how financially secure you are (and could become) as you plan for retirement.

NYSLRS Retirees Build a Stronger New York

NYSLRS pension benefit can provide security and peace of mind in retirement. What some retirees might not realize about their lifetime benefit is the effect it has on the local economy. During 2014 alone, NYSLRS retirees were responsible for $12 billion in economic activity in New York State. By buying local goods and services, NYSLRS retirees help existing companies grow, create opportunities for new businesses, and help foster an environment that helps companies create job opportunities.

NYSLRS Retirees in New York

Of the 430,308 current NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries, 78 percent of them live in New York State. These retirees make up 2.8 percent of the general population, but their impact on the State economy is considerable:

  • Retiree Spending Creates Jobs, Supports Local Business. NYSLRS retirees spend a larger than average share of their income on industries that benefitted local businesses, such as health care, restaurants and entertainment. These industries can expect more growth in the coming decades with NYSLRS retirees as part of their customer base. As a result of this spending, NYSLRS retirees were also responsible for an estimated 60,400 jobs.
  • Retirees Pay Billions in Taxes. In 2014, NYSLRS retirees paid $1.6 billion in real property taxes, which is five percent of the total collected in New York. These taxes help support New York schools, roads and government services. Also, spending by NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries generated an estimated $514 million in state and local sales tax.

After spending their careers working in State and local governments, the university system, public authorities and schools, NYSLRS retirees continue to help New York’s Main Streets grow and develop. The benefits of a NYSLRS pension aren’t just felt by retirees, but also by local businesses and communities. As the number of NYSLRS retirees continues to grow, the investment they make in communities across New York State will also continue to grow.