It may seem odd to ask someone just beginning a career to think about retirement. But it is never too early, and information is available to help you make informed decisions now and plan intelligently.
All public school teachers and teaching assistants in New York belong to the state Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), except those who teach in New York City and belong to the City Teachers' Retirement System. There are six retirement "Tiers" within the TRS: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Tier 5 and Tier 6.
Your tier depends on when you first joined the retirement system. Under the existing Retirement & Social Security Law all teachers and teaching assistants who joined on or after Sept. 1, 1983, are in Tier 4. All teachers and teaching assistants who joined on or after January 1, 2010, are in Tier 5, and all teacher and teaching assistants who joined on or after April 1, 2012 are Tier 6.
The minimum criteria to retire with full pension for Tier 4 members is 55 years of age and 30 years of service; you can retire with less service at a reduced pension. Tier 4 members are eligible to collect a pension, or vested in the retirement system, after achieving 5 years of service credit and are required to contribute 3 percent of their salaries until they have completed 10 years of service credit.
The minimum criteria to retiree with a full pension for Tier 5 members of TRS is 57 years of age and 30 years of service; you can retiree with less service at a reduced pension. Tier 5 members of TRS are vested in the retirement system after achieving 10 years of service credit and contribute 3.5 percent of their salaries for the life of their employment.
Tier 6 members can collect a full pension at age 63 and are vested in the retirement system after achieving 10 years of service credit. Tier 6 members contribute to the retirement system for the life of their employment.
The amount Tier 6 members contribute is based on their salary and ranges between 3 and 6 percent.
Your employer also contributes; the rate fluctuates from year to year and is set each year by the TRS Board of Directors. Three members of this board are teachers. Questions from TRS members about retirement are addressed in a column that appears in each issue of NYSUT's monthly membership newsmagazine, NYSUT United. Your teacher-board representatives are available to answer questions and discuss NYSUT's efforts to improve your pension. You may contact them as follows:
TRS publishes a Members' Handbook for all Tiers, 1-6. Copies are available from the NYSTRS at 800-348-7298. In New York City, Mel Aronson, Sandra March and Mona Romain are three teacher-members of the New York City Retirement System Board. They can be reached at 212-598-9536. New York City teachers and paraprofessionals who have questions about retirement can also call a pension representative in the borough offices of the United Federation of Teachers. The borough office numbers are:
Staten Island: 718-605-1400
David Keefe • 516-741-1241
Eric Iberger • 518-376-4333