June 2012 Issue
May 18, 2012

ERS: How much is my pension benefit?

Author: New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Source: NYSUT United

Every year the Employees' Retirement System mails you a valuable retirement planning document — your Member Annual Statement. Your statement contains important information about all aspects of your ERS membership. Perhaps most important of all, it can give you a good idea of what your pension will be.

For most members, page six of the statement includes a projection of your pension at different ages for the various payment options available. These projected pension benefits are calculated using current information we have on file for you, including your beneficiaries, retirement plan, tier, service credit and Final Average Salary (FAS). There are some members who do not receive projections; for example, members who have less than three years of service credit.

Q: How is the FAS on my statement calculated?

A: The FAS on your statement is an automated calculation that only uses the current salary information we have on file for you and does not assume increases in salary. The FAS on your statement also does not include estimates for lump sum payments such as unused vacation pay.

Since there are different ways to calculate the FAS based on employment (i.e., 10-month academic schedule or 12-month schedule), you should review your retirement plan book (www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications) or contact us with any questions you might have about your FAS.

Q: Why is the projected benefit on my Member Annual Statement different from the projection I received at a consultation site?

A: The statement projection is an automated calculation that only uses information we have on file for you as of March 31 — the end of our fiscal year. Representatives at our consultation sites may add information supplied by you that has not yet been verified with your employer, such as sick leave accruals and lump sum payments, to the calculation of your projection. This information is not included in your statement.

Since retirement system staff can't review all statement projections for accuracy, they are not a guarantee. However, they are an excellent retirement planning tool.

Q: When are the statements mailed?

A: The mailing begins in mid-May and takes approximately six to eight weeks to complete. We mail to school districts first so 10-month school employees can receive their statements before summer break; most members will receive their statements by mid-July.

Q: What if I have other questions about my statement?

A: We've created a special interactive, online presentation about the Member Annual Statement. It offers a page-by-page explanation of your statement and contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions. You can view the entire presentation, or go directly to the information you need. To access the presentation, visit our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/mas_tutorial.

You can also email us from our website, www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/contact_us, or contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District area.