December 2013/January 2014
December 13, 2013

TRS: Getting health insurance in retirement

Source: NYSUT United

Paul Farfaglia, Tim Southerton, Karen Magee and David Keefe.What you need to know

Q: Will I still receive health insurance benefits through my district after I retire?

A: That varies depending upon the local that you retire from. Health insurance benefits are locally negotiated and are not provided by the New York State Teachers Retirement System. Contact your local union leader or building rep to find out what your locally negotiated contract provides.

Q: What type of salary can I include in my Final Average Salary (FAS) determination?

A: The Final Average Salary is typically the average of a member's highest three consecutive years of salary earned, with certain exclusions. Tier 6 members must use a five-year FAS. Tier 1 members with a NYSTRS membership date prior to June 17, 1971, are also eligible for a five-year FAS if it provides a greater benefit than the three-year calculation.

A three-year FAS for Tier 1-5 members can include payments for full-time teaching, coaching, tutoring, summer school, chaperoning, workshops, driver education, supervision of traditional after-school clubs and teaching or administrating educational after-school programs.

The three-year FAS cannot include non-regular compensation, such as bonuses, taxable fringe benefits or payments in lieu of health insurance, employer contributions into tax shelter accounts, payments made outside of contract terms or on the eve of retirement, buyouts or termination pay, such as payments for unused leave or a local retirement incentive.

Also excluded is payment for services ordinarily performed by classified positions, consultants or independent contractors; payments used to purchase health insurance through the district; compensation for duties that aren't commonly incidental to administrators or full-time teachers, such as bus driver, district clerk, or school attorney; or payment for computer maintenance, master teacher presentations or similar roles.

For Tier 6 members, the same rules apply with the following additions: Any salary greater than the New York state governor's salary cannot be included in the FAS calculation. As of July 1, 2013, that limit was $179,000. Additionally, for those with multiple employers, pensionable salaries are limited to the two highest-grossing positions per school year.

Lastly, salary increases that exceed 10 percent of the average of the previous four years' salaries are excluded from the FAS calculation.

For more information and a full listing of allowances and exclusions, visit the NYSTRS Active Members' Handbook at nystrs.org/main/library/handbook/handbook.pdf.

DID YOU KNOW

Your TRS retirement benefit is paid in 12 monthly payments, directly deposited into your checking or savings account on the last business day of each month.