September 2010
August 22, 2010

ERS: Ready for retirement?

Source: NYSUT United

If you're ready to retire, you probably have many questions: How to choose your date of retirement and when you can expect to receive pension payments are questions you need answered before you file for retirement.

Q: How do I decide when to retire?

A: Only you can decide the best time, but there are things you can do to help you decide, including carefully reading your retirement plan booklet. Understanding your plan and its benefits is the first step. Plan booklets are available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/index.htm.

Your Employees' Retirement System Member Annual Statement is also a good resource. It provides a basic estimate of your retirement benefit based on data accumulated during your membership. In addition, if you are at least 53½ years old, you can request a formal retirement estimate. As a member, you may request a new estimate as often as every 18 months. If you are younger than 53½ years old or just want a general idea of your benefit, you can use our Benefit Projection Calculator at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members. Our calculator will project your benefit using information you provide, so be sure to have your statement handy.

Q: Will my first pension check be my final benefit amount?

A: No, because we cannot get certain necessary information, such as your employer's certification of your unused vacation and sick leave credits until after you retire. Most members are eligible to receive advance checks — partial payments that can be anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of your final benefit, depending on whether we have enough of the required information — until we determine exactly what your pension will be. However, we cannot make any payments until we verify your date of birth.

Q: When will I receive my first advance check?

A: Advance checks are mailed on the first business day of each month, beginning at least one full month after your date of retirement, so plan accordingly. Remember, you will not be receiving a pension check during this period. For example, if a member retires in September and is eligible to receive advance payments, the first advance would be mailed on the first business day of November, regardless of whether the date of retirement is Sept. 1 or Sept. 30. On average, members should expect to receive three to five monthly advance payments from us.

Q: What happens when my monthly pension is finalized?

A: When your benefit is finalized, we will send you a retroactive payment to make up the difference between the advance payments you've received and the amount of your actual retirement benefit. Subsequent monthly payments will reflect your full benefit.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: Refer to our booklet, How Do I Prepare To Retire?, or contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District region.