February 2014
February 05, 2014

TRS: Summer school and service credit

Source: NYSUT United

Paul Farfaglia, Tim Southerton, Karen Magee and David Keefe.Q: I have taught summer school in my district for the past 12 years. Why isn't the extra credit for that service listed in my benefit profile?

A: The calendar year for the New York State Teachers' Retirement System runs July 1 through June 30 of each school year. By law, members can receive only one year of service credit per school year. If you are a full-time employee you will not receive additional service credit for your summer employment.

Two notes: If you earn the extra summer school salary in your Final Average Salary years, it can boost your retirement benefit. Additionally, members employed less than full time can use summer employment to build service credit.

Q: I worked for both the parks department in New York City and a city community college in 1971 and 1972. Later, I was hired full time by a Dutchess County school district and joined TRS as a Tier 3 member.

I looked into having my membership date changed back to my prior service date so I could be in Tier 1, but was told that was not possible; I could only buy back my prior service. This doesn't seem fair and makes a big difference for my pension.

A: Unfortunately, this is true. While prior service typically improves your benefit calculation, only a membership reinstatement or transfer can change your date of membership and/or tier. It sounds like you were part time in your previous work and did not opt to join a public retirement system. Membership is not mandatory for part-time employees, so often they don't join. Reinstatement to an earlier tier can occur only if you had a previous membership in another NYS public retirement system.