December 2011
November 23, 2011

ERS: Are you receiving all of your service credit?

Source: NYSUT United

The amount of service credit you have plays a key role in determining your eligibility for your retirement benefit and in calculating the amount you are owed. That's why you should ensure that you receive credit for any previous eligible public employment.

You can receive retirement service credit from the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System (ERS) for most previous public employment. For instance, you may receive credit for your work with a participating public employer in New York before you joined the Retirement System. This is referred to as non-member service. Please note, you must accrue two years of member service — service that you earn after joining the retirement system — and pay any non-member service costs before your non-member service can be credited.

There's also prior service. Prior service refers to any period of time you received salary from a public employer before that employer elected to participate in ERS. For Tier 2 and 3 members, there is no cost for this service, but you do need to file a request with ERS in order for it to be processed. Tier 4 and 5 members must make contributions for prior service (3 percent of gross salary plus interest to date of payment) and must accrue two years of member service to be credited with prior service, as well. For Tier 3 members, prior service is credited immediately.

Credit for service before your date of membership and for prior service is optional, meaning that it is your choice whether to pay for these periods of time, but service can only be credited if you request the service credit and pay any costs involved. Once payment is made, however, it cannot be refunded.

If you previously were a member of ERS or another public retirement system in New York, your service may be recredited and your date of membership and tier changed. This is what's known as service from a previous membership.

Q: How do I claim credit for my previous service?

A: Send a letter that includes a full description of the service to the Member & Employer Services Bureau at 110 State Street, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12244. You may also send a Supplemental Statement of Services form (RS5042), which can be downloaded from the ERS website at www.osc.state.ny.us/ retire/forms/rs5042-i-pdf. ERS will determine your eligibility to receive the credit and any cost involved.

Q: Can I pay for service credit once I am retired?

A: No. Once you are retired, you cannot pay any service credit costs or receive credit for any unpaid optional service.

Q: Where can I go for more information?

A: Start by reading "Service Credit for Tier 2, 3, 4 & 5 Members" on the ERS website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/vo1854.htm. You can also send an email from the retirement system website (www.osc.staate.ny.us/ retire/contact_us) or contact the Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Albany area.