There are core elements behind each NYSLRS retirement plan that every member should know. Knowing your retirement plan details like what your pension payment options are and how your final average salary (FAS) works is essential. Learning these NYSLRS Basics can give you a good foundation of information and help you prepare for retirement.
When Can I Retire?
This is a popular question we hear from members. Because of the large number of retirement plans we manage, there isn’t one single answer to this question, but we do have answers.
If you’re in a regular retirement plan (the vast majority of members are in regular plans), you can retire any time on or after your 55th birthday. However, some service credit requirements do apply:
- Tier 1 members, depending on their plan, may need two or five years of service credit if they recently changed employers
- Tier 2, 3, or 4 members need five or more years of service credit
- Tier 5 and 6 members need ten or more years of service credit
Note: service credit is defined as the credit you receive for your paid public employment with a NYSLRS participating employer.
If you’re in a special retirement plan (most police officers, firefighters, sheriffs and correction officers are in special plans), you can retire at any age as long as you’ve met the service credit requirement for that plan. Special plan members can retire once they reach 20 or 25 years of service credit, whichever their plan requires.
Retiring at Age 55 vs. Full Retirement Age
Keep in mind that even though you could retire as early as 55, you may receive a benefit reduction* for not waiting until the full retirement age. (Visit our Early Age Reduction page to see the reductions for your tier.) Under NYSLRS regular retirement plans, you can retire with no reduction once you reach your full retirement age.
It’s important to know that if you decide to retire with a reduced benefit, the reduction is permanent – it doesn’t end once you reach your full retirement age. Keep this in mind once you start preparing for retirement.
Knowing what your full retirement age is and when you’re first eligible to retire is just one part of the NYSLRS Basics series. Look out for a future post on retirement option selection.
*There are some exceptions: Tier 1 members can retire at age 55 without a benefit reduction; ERS Tier 2, 3 & 4 members and Tier 5 Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System can retire at age 55 with 30 or more years of service credit without a benefit reduction.