October 2010 Issue
September 30, 2010

ERS: Vested interest

Source: NYSUT United

Are you a vested member of the Employees' Retirement System? Being vested means you are eligible to receive a retirement benefit. ERS members in Tiers 2, 3 or 4 who have at least five years of credited service are considered vested, while Tier 5 members must have 10 years of credited service.

Establishing your eligibility for a benefit is especially important if you are considering leaving public employment. If you are vested and leave public employment before age 55, you will be eligible for a retirement benefit at age 55 based on your service and salary when you were an active member. Tiers 1 and 2 members are eligible for a vested benefit on the first of the month following their 55th birthday. Tier 3, 4 and 5 members are eligible for a benefit on their 55th birthday.

Q: What determines a vested benefit?

A: Generally, the retirement plan you were covered by in your last public employment determines how your benefit is calculated. For more information, refer to your plan booklet, at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/index.htm#ersmembers.

Q: Will you automatically begin paying my vested benefit when I turn 55?

A: No. You must file a retirement application with us when you are eligible and want to begin receiving your benefit. To receive your vested retirement benefit at the earliest possible date, you should file a retirement application within 90 days before the first of the month following your 55th birthday. If we receive your retirement application after the first of the month following your 55th birthday, your vested retirement is effective on the date the application is filed with or received by us.

Q: How do I know if I'm vested? Do I need to file any paperwork?

A: Your Member Annual Statement, which contains important information about all aspects of your ERS membership, including your reported salary and beneficiaries, in most cases will also list how much service credit you have as of March 31, the end of our fiscal year. Based on that service credit, you can determine if you're vested.

Vesting is automatic. You do not have to file any paperwork.

Q: What happens to my membership if I leave public employment before I'm vested?

A: Your membership stays active for seven years. If you return to employment during this seven-year period, your membership continues. However, if you do not return to public employment within seven years, your membership will be terminated due to inactivity. If you have contributions on deposit, you can submit a withdrawal application and they will be returned to you.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: Learn more about vesting on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/vesting.htm. If you have questions about vesting or other aspects of your membership, contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District area.