February 2012
January 27, 2012

ERS: Ready to retire?

Author: State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Source: NYSUT United

You've researched and planned, and now you've decided the time is right.

So, what's next? You must file an Application for Service Retirement (RS6037) with the New York State Employees' Retirement System (ERS) to start the process. The application is available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/forms/rs6037.pdf.

You must file your application at least 15 days, but not more than 90 days, before your retirement date. Please do not give your application to your employer. Send it directly to us at the address indicated on the application.

Once we receive your signed and notarized application, we'll notify your employer and send you a confirmation letter. We'll include a W-4P form, so you can choose the amount you want withheld from your benefit payment each month for federal taxes, as well as a direct deposit enrollment form, so you can have your payment automatically deposited into your checking or savings account as soon as we finalize your retirement.

If you've had an estimate of your retirement benefit within the last 18 months, we'll also enclose a Retirement Option Election form, so you can select how your monthly benefit will be paid. If you haven't had an estimate, we'll begin to prepare one for you, and we'll enclose a Retirement Option Election form when we send your estimate.

Q: Which pension payment option should I choose?

A: Since each member's situation is unique, only you can decide which option best meets your needs. You may choose the Single Life Allowance, which will pay you the maximum amount each month, with payments ending upon your death, or one of the several options that pay you a smaller monthly benefit, but provide for a possible payment to your designated beneficiary after your death. You may want to consult a financial advisor before making your selection.

Q: How much time do I have to file the Option Election form?

A: You must file your signed and notarized Option Election form (unless notified otherwise) before the first day of the month following your retirement date. However, you have up to 30 days after your pension benefit becomes payable to change your option selection by filing a new form. Once this filing period has passed, you cannot change your option.

Q: Why should I complete the W-4P form?

A: Your service retirement benefit is subject to federal income tax. The W-4P tells us what you want withheld from your benefit payment toward your taxes. If you do not submit a W-4P form, the amount withheld will be based on the status, "married with three dependents." You can change your federal withholding tax status at anytime. The W-4P form is available from our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire.forms/form_w-4p.pdf.

Q: Where can I go to learn more about the steps I need to take to retire?

A: You can start by reading our publication, Life Changes: How Do I Prepare to Retire?, at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/vo1709.htm. If you require additional help, please contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990 or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area.