Whether you’re new to public service and occasionally catch yourself dreaming of life after work, or a longtime NYSLRS member counting down the days to your retirement date, information is the key to being fully prepared for and feeling confident about your retirement years. The single most important thing you can do to achieve this goal is to know what NYSLRS retirement plan you’re in. Once you know that, the next thing you must do is understand the benefits your plan offers you.
But here’s the challenge: while the average public pension system in this country administers eight plans, NYSLRS manages a head spinning 346 different retirement plans. Determining the retirement plan you have starts with your answer to two key questions.
Two Questions, Many Answers
- The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) is for public employees in non-teaching positions, and includes uniformed services personnel, such as correction officers and sheriffs
- The Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) is for police officers and paid firefighters
Your tier is a distinct group of membership based on when you joined NYSLRS. At this time, there are six tiers in ERS and five tiers in PFRS. Your plan benefits depend on what tier you are in. For some members, your job title and choices made by your employer may also affect the benefits available to you. But for the most part, once you know what System and tier you are in, you can use that knowledge to find your plan publication on our website.
Take the Time to Understand Your Retirement Plan
It cannot be stated enough how important it is to read your plan publication to learn all you can about your benefits. It is the key to solid retirement planning because each plan publication provides a wealth of information to help you understand things like:
How many years you’ll need to work in order to receive a pension.
What will your pension amount be and how is determined.
What kind of death and disability benefits are available to you.
Plan publications may also be available from your employer.
If you’re still not sure what plan you’re covered by, ask your employer or check your latest Member Annual Statement.
Remember, no one has a more vested stake in your retirement than you do. But in order to have the best understanding of what lies ahead, you need to dive head first into retirement planning. By taking a little time to get familiar with your retirement plan and the benefits it provides, you’ll be better prepared for your financial future.