Retirees: Know Your Post-Retirement Earnings Limit

Retirees: Know Your Post-Retirement Earnings LimitAs a NYSLRS retiree, you can work for a public employer after retirement and still receive your pension, but there may be an earnings limit on how much you can earn.

Public employers include New York State, municipalities in the State (cities, counties, etc.), school districts and public authorities. If you’re self-employed or work for a private employer, another state, or the federal government, you can collect your full NYSLRS pension no matter how much you earn. (However, earnings for most disability retirees are limited whether they work for a public or private employer. To find out your earnings limit, please contact us.)

Two sections of New York State Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL) apply to NYSLRS service retirees who return to work in the public sector.

Section 212: Earnings Limit Increases to $35,000 in 2020

Section 212 of the RSSL allows retirees to earn up to $30,000 from public employment in calendar year 2019. Legislation signed in December 2019 increased the earnings limit to $35,000 for calendar year 2020 and future years. There is generally no earnings restriction beginning in the calendar year you turn 65. (Special rules apply to elected officials.) If you are under 65 and earn more than the Section 212 limit, you must:

  • Pay back, to NYSLRS, an amount equal to the retirement benefit you received after you reached the limit. And, if you continue to work, your retirement benefit will be suspended for the remainder of the calendar year.

OR

  • Rejoin NYSLRS, in which case your retirement benefit will be suspended.

Section 211: Requires Employer Approval

Under Section 211, the earnings limit can be waived if your prospective employer gets prior approval. (In most cases, the New York State Department of Civil Service would be the approving agency.)

Section 211 approvals apply to a fixed period, normally up to two years. Approval is not automatic; it is based on the employer’s needs and your qualifications.

Before you decide to return to work, please, please read our publication, What If I Work After Retirement? If you still have questions or concerns, please contact us.

35 thoughts on “Retirees: Know Your Post-Retirement Earnings Limit

  1. Deb

    so when I retire next July, I can get a p/t or f/t job in the private sector and that will not affect my pension? is this correct?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Generally, no. If a NYSLRS retiree chooses one of the standard pension payment options that provides a lifetime benefit to a beneficiary (such as a spouse), that benefit isn’t affected if the beneficiary remarries.

      However, for information about your particular situation, we recommend emailing our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS

        NYSLRS will only deposit your pension payment into one checking or savings account at a single bank or financial institution.

        Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Most NYSLRS members can return to public employment after retiring, though there are earnings restrictions depending on your pension benefit and age. You may find helpful information in our publication, What If I Work After Retirement. We aren’t certain, however, what you mean by “status”.
      For information about your particular situation, we recommend contacting our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Besides a birth certificate, we’ll accept any of these documents as proof of your birth date:

    2. Baptismal certificate;
    3. Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214);
    4. New York State driver’s license;
    5. Passport; or
    6. Naturalization papers.
    7. In most cases, a photocopy is acceptable. If you do send us the original, we will return it to you.

      Reply
  2. Sheila

    I will collect my Soc Sec now, early, while I am still working. When I am able to retire in two years, is Social Security included in the “amount” I can make, once I start collecting my pension?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Your Social Security benefits do not count toward the amount you can earn from post-retirement public employment. However, for more information about the circumstances you describe, we recommend you visit the Social Security Administration website or speak with a financial advisor.

      Reply
  3. Allen Macey

    Is there current legislation in the works to increase the threshold above the 30K limit it currently is for retirees electing to come back to work as an hourly state employee. What is the status of such legislation (assuming there is such). If so, will it apply to this years earnings?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Under current State law, NYSLRS retirees can earn up to $30,000 per calendar year from public employment without a reduction in their pension. There is generally no earnings limit once the retiree is 65.

      Both houses of the Legislature have approved a bill that would increase the earnings cap to $35,000 starting in 2020. However, the bill must be signed by the Governor to become law. To our knowledge, the Governor has not signed this legislation.

      Reply
  4. Janet Hottois

    My husband was a retiree n when he passed away I was suppose to receive but was denied. He went back to tier 1 before retirement but chose the option that would give me a death benefit but you all refused to give it to me. What happened to the money he had withheld for me upon his death?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’ve been informed that one of our customer service representatives contacted you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

      Reply
  5. Karen Zobel

    I will be working for a school system soon, I am 65 years old will this effect my NYS pension, do I have to notify anyone?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      There generally is no earnings limit starting in the year a retiree turns 65.

      However, we suggest you contact our customer service representative for information specific to your circumstances. You can email them using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      Reply
  6. Joe

    Is there now an automatic pension waiver for retirees who become employed as a public school security guard post retirement.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Under State law, most NYSLRS retirees can earn up to $35,000 per calendar year from public employment without a reduction in their pension. There generally is no earnings limit starting in the year the retiree turns 65.

      We suggest you contact our customer service representative for information specific to your circumstances. You can email them using the secure form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $35,000 earnings limit is a limit on your total earnings from a public-sector job before taxes and other deductions, such as contributions to a retirement savings plan.

      Reply
      1. Rich

        Thank you very much. So as I understand, it doesn’t matter how much you contribute to a retirement plan as it would not be a factor in keeping your earnings below $35,000 limit if you go over it in a public sector job.

        Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $35,000 earnings limit applies to public retirees who have returned to work under Section 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law. If you retired under a public retirement system in New York State other than NYSLRS, please contact that system for more information.

      Reply
  7. Barbara

    I am a retired Registered Nurse (32 years) from Westchester Health Care Corporation. I applied to be a Contact Tracer II for COVID-19. Was told that since I receive a pension I could not take the position without “stopping my pension”. The base starting pay for a Contact Tracer is $57,000, I believe the limit in 2020 for the state is $35,000. The interviewer from TBG The Bachrach Goup that are recruiting for the position stated that there were many retired nurses who applied in the same situation. Given the severity of this pandemic I believe this rule should be waived. I also have my MPH and would be an assist to this endeavor. Please Advise. I also sent the same message to Governor Cuomo, Mr. DiNapoli and Mayor De Blasio

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $35,000 earnings limit under Section 212 is based on the amount the retiree earns in public-sector employment in a calendar year.

      An executive order waived the earnings limit through June 6. Only the amount you would earn between June 7 and December 31, 2020, would count toward the earnings cap. Once your earnings exceed $35,000, your pension would be suspended for the rest of the calendar year.

      If you return to work for a public employer and will earn more than the annual Section 212 limit, you may be able to work under Section 211 without affecting your pension. However, your employer must receive approval (known as a Section 211 waiver) before hiring you. For more information, please read our publication, What If I Work After Retirement? If you still have questions or concerns, please contact us.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Generally, if you are 65 or older, there is no annual earnings limit. There are exceptions though. For example, you may be limited after age 65 if you retired under a disability retirement.

      For questions about your particular situation, please contact our customer service representatives by calling them at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area) or emailing them using the secure email form on our website. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  8. K. Vetter

    How does the $35,000 earnings cap work if you retire and start working later in the year? For instance, retiring in July, then returning to work in October, making less than $35,000 for the October through December period, but more than that from public employment for the whole year, including the 6 months prior to retiring.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The $35,000 limit applies to post-retirement earnings. It does not apply to money you earn before you retire.

      Reply
  9. Shawn Tompkins

    So when I “retire”, If I have (2) part time jobs that each pay less than $35,000 but collectively will pay more the “cap”, which employer puts in for a waiver?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      You should get a waiver from each employer.

      A waiver is not automatic. It depends on the employer’s needs and the retiree’s qualifications. Public employers must make reasonable efforts to find qualified, non-retired workers to fill vacancies first and to show why a waiver is absolutely necessary. For more information, please read our publication What If I Work After Retirement?

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

      Reply
  10. Shawn Tompkins

    OK – Seem cumbersome. I guess I don’t understand why NYS limits your ability to make wages after completing service commitments? It would seem beneficial to NYS that I continue to pay income taxes, but I guess this is why so many people flee this State after retirement.
    I appreciate the information

    Reply

Leave a Reply