January 2011 Issue
December 21, 2010

TRS: Will we see another 55/25?

Source: NYSUT United

Q: Has there been any discussion about an early-retirement incentive for 2011? Perhaps another 55/25, considering the state budget deficit and confusion over the constitutionality of last year's?

A: Not yet. We may know more after the new governor takes office and outlines his plans. We'll keep you posted.

Q: I have a question regarding my daughter, who, as a paraprofessional, was a two-year member of the New York State & Local Employees' Retirement System. Under that system, she is a Tier 4 member. In September, she received her master's degree and teacher certification. She resigned her paraprofessional duties and is currently a per diem teacher substitute in various districts. Upon employment in this new capacity, she enrolled in the TRS. Her first pay stub listed her membership in TRS as Tier 5.

Is she eligible for Tier 4 membership in TRS? If so, what is the most effective way to reinstate or transfer her Tier 4 status from ERS to the TRS?

A: Your daughter should contact the TRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6040, to immediately transfer her ERS service (and Tier 4) to the TRS. She will be sent the appropriate forms (or informed where to download them).

Q: I am a Tier 3 teacher who started teaching in 1978. I have 32 years and 8 months of service. In the fall of 1978, I was the freshman girl's soccer coach at another school district. Does the time I coached count toward my retirement?

A: If you were a full-time teacher at the time you coached, no additional service credit could be earned during that time. State law mandates that only one year of service credit can be earned in a school year. The three-year final average salary, which is used in the calculation for retirement, consists of your highest three consecutive years of regular salary — usually the final three years of employment. Your additional monies from coaching in 1978 would not be part of your three-year FAS.

Q: I noticed in the November issue of NYSUT United that "military service credit up to three years" is mentioned as one of the highlights of your tenure. Does this mean all veterans? There was a proposal in the Legislature to open this program to ALL veterans, regardless of when they served. However, as far as I know the bill died in committee. That was a few years ago. Has anything changed? My active service dates were Nov. 9, 1977, to Nov. 8, 1981. Do I qualify?

A: We wish we could respond affirmatively. The answer is that only certain periods of military service are still eligible.

Q:Which states do not tax our pension?

A: The states with no state income tax are Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Although New York does have a state income tax, it does not (yet!) tax NYS pensions.