March 2011
February 17, 2011

ERS: Retirement planning begins with a pension preview

Source: NYSUT United

Thinking about retiring? Make sure you request a general estimate before you do. After all, you'll need precise figures to help you determine whether or not you're financially able to retire, and a general estimate provides the most accurate preview of your pension.

Unfortunately, many members overlook this invaluable planning tool. For example, over the course of a recent 12-month period, while 19,000 members filed retirement applications, just 8,700 requested general estimates.

That means only 46 percent took advantage of the opportunity to get the best available advance look at what their pensions may be.

Q: Why should I request an estimate?

A: An estimate gives you the best available forecast of your monthly benefit under the various payment options. In preparing your estimate, we will examine your service credit, which can help identify service that wasn't credited and other related issues well before you retire. Then there will be more time to correct our records and, if necessary, for you to pay any required contributions. Also, the more we can get done in advance, the sooner we can finalize your pension and provide you with your full monthly benefit when you do retire.

Q: When should I request an estimate?

A: We suggest you request an estimate 12 to 18 months before your anticipated date of retirement. Many members don't request an estimate because they don't know their exact retirement date. Don't let that stop you. You are not obligated to retire on the date you choose for your estimate. In fact, you can request a new estimate 18 months after receiving the initial one. The first time you can ask for an estimate is at 53½ years of age — in other words, when you are within 18 months of age 55, your earliest possible date of retirement.

Q: If I haven't received an estimate, won't you prepare one when I file for retirement?

A: Yes, but the processing of an estimate can take some time — especially if we need to request payroll records to verify service. It's not unusual for some records to be lost or destroyed over time. By the time we receive records to verify your service, you may be retired and, if your final service credit is less than you expected, your pension will be lower as well, and it will be too late to withdraw your retirement application.

Q: How do I get an estimate?

A: Send us a completed Request for Estimate form (RS6030), which is available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/forms/rs6030.pdf.

Q: How can I get help if I need it?

A: E-mail us from our website (www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/contact_us) or contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District.