March 2013
February 28, 2013

TRS: Ready to retire? Verify your service credit

Source: NYSUT United
Caption:
nysutunited_1201_trs

Q: Can I retire at age 55 without a reduction to my pension, or do I have to wait until I am age 62?

A: This is one of the most common questions we get. It all depends on your tier and how much service credit you have.

Tier 1 members may retire at any age with 35 years of service, or at age 55 with five or more years of service.

If you are a member of Tier 2, 3 or 4, and at least age 55, you can retire without a pension reduction as long as you have 30 years of service credit. If you have less than 30 years of service credit when you retire, your pension will be reduced unless you are at least age 62.

If you are a Tier 5 member, you may retire at age 55 with 10 years of service credit. If you retire prior to age 57 (regardless of how much service you have), or if you retire between ages 57-62 and have less than 30 years of service, the pension factor is reduced based on your age.

Tier 6 members may retire at age 55 with 10 years of service credit. If you retire prior to age 63 (regardless of your total service), the pension factor is reduced based on your age.

Two cautionary notes: Don't ignore key milestones. Be sure to verify your service credit. TRS offered this true story during a recent "Lessons Learned" workshop:

A 55-year-old Tier 4 member thought he had 30 years of credit and didn't check with TRS. He quit his job, sold his house here, purchased a home and moved. The painful lesson? He was actually just shy of 30 years and received a 27 percent reduction in his pension. (See box for details) Don't let this happen to you. Check your benefit profile and be sure to have a one-on-one or video benefits consultation before retiring.

Q: I stopped working and was eligible to collect my retirement benefits three years ago. I wasn't sure if I was ready to retire but now I am. If I file now, will I receive retroactive payments?

A: No. Pension law does not permit retroactive retirement. Don't delay in filing for retirement if you are eligible to collect and have stopped service.