Retirement and Continuing NYSUT Services

NYSUT Retiree Services Program

NYSUT has one of the most active and successful union retiree programs in the country. The NYSUT Retiree Services Program, part of Program Services, was established by NYSUT to help its retirees organize and to act as a service provider for those retiree groups. In an effort to better serve the growing number of retirees, 11 Retiree Services Consultants have been hired to serve members in the field.

The NYSUT Retiree Services Program provides printing, mailing and other communications services; plans, develops and coordinates regional membership conferences; provides support for retiree council meetings; provides communication and logistical support for lobbying activities and rallies; publishes a quarterly newsletter; answers post-retirement questions; and helps obtain speakers and programming for retiree councils and chapters.

The Teachers' Retirement System

It may seem odd to ask someone just beginning a career to think about retirement. But it is never too early, and information is available to help you make informed decisions now and plan intelligently. All public school teachers and teaching assistants in New York belong to the State Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), except those who teach in New York City and belong to the City Teachers' Retirement System. There are six retirement "Tiers" within the TRS: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Tier 5 and Tier 6.

Your tier depends on when you first joined the retirement system. Under the existing Retirement & Social Security Law all teachers and teaching assistants who joined on or after Sept. 1, 1983, are in Tier 4.

All teachers and teaching assistants who joined on or after January 1, 2010, are in Tier 5, and all teacher and teaching assistants who joined on or after April 1, 2012 are Tier 6.

The minimum criteria to retire with full pension for Tier 4 members is 55 years of age and 30 years of service; you can retire with less service at a reduced pension. Tier 4 members are eligible to collect a pension, or vested in the retirement system, after achieving 5 years of service credit and are required to contribute 3 percent of their salaries until they have completed 10 years of service credit.

The minimum criteria to retiree with a full pension for Tier 5 members of TRS is 57 years of age and 30 years of service; you can retiree with less service at a reduced pension. Tier 5 members of TRS are vested in the retirement system after achieving 10 years of service credit and contribute 3.5 percent of their salaries for the life of their employment.

Tier 6 members can collect a full pension at age 63 and are vested in the retirement system after achieving 10 years of service credit. Tier 6 members contribute to the retirement system for the life of their employment. The amount Tier 6 members contribute is based on their salary and ranges between 3 and 6 percent.

Your employer also contributes; the rate fluctuates from year to year and is set each year by the TRS Board of Directors. Three members of this board are teachers. Questions from TRS members about retirement are addressed in a column that appears in each issue of NYSUT's monthly membership newsmagazine, NYSUT United. Your teacher-board representatives are available to answer questions and discuss NYSUT's efforts to improve your pension. You may contact them as follows:

TRS publishes a Members' Handbook for all Tiers, 1-6. Copies are available from the NYSTRS at 800-348-7298.
In New York City, Mel Aronson, Sandra March and Mona Romain are three teacher-members of the New York City Retirement System Board. They can be reached at 212-598-9536.

New York City teachers and paraprofessionals who have questions about retirement can also call a pension representative in the borough offices of the United Federation of Teachers. The borough office numbers are:

Bronx: 718-379-6200
Brooklyn: 718-852-4900
Manhattan: 212-598-6800
Queens: 718-275-4400
Staten Island: 718-605-1400

Paul Farfaglia
315-431-4040
pfarfagl@nysutmail.org

Karen Magee
914-592-4411
kmagee@nysutmail.org

Tim Southerton
631-273-8822
tsouther@nysutmail.org

Retirement System for Non-Instructional Employees

The benefits available for non-instructional employees depend on the school board's decision to participate in the New York State Employees' Retirement System. There is no law that requires them to do so, but if they elect to participate, the law precludes the establishment of any retirement system for a civil service employee other than the Employees' Retirement System (ERS). Permanent, 12-month, full-time employees must join the system.

Part-time employees have the option to join the system and are encouraged to do so. They should contact their district's business office.

Employees' contributions are paid into ERS by payroll deduction each payroll period. Employers' contributions to ERS are paid once each year upon receipt of a bill from the system.

Active members in the ERS who worked for a period of time with a public employer prior to joining the ERS or rendered service in the U.S. Armed Forces during a conflict may be able to claim retirement credit for that service. Members are encouraged to contact the ERS directly to determine their eligibility for this additional service credit and the process through which to obtain retirement credit.

Members of the ERS who have retired from service but want to return to public employment may be able to do so without a diminution of their retirement benefits. Retired members who would like to return to public service are encouraged to contact the ERS directly for more information on the different options that are available.

Retirement for private-sector employees is a subject for negotiation. Members should consult their collective bargaining agreements and local leadership for information about retirement benefits available to them.

Teachers' Insurance Annuities Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) is available to members in public higher education who have the choice of joining TIAA-CREF (a defined contribution benefit plan), the Employees' Retirement System (ERS), or the State Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). (The latter two are defined benefit pension plans.) TIAA-CREF also is known as "the optional retirement plan."