March Issue
March 05, 2014

TRS: Retiring due to disability

Source: NYSUT United

Paul Farfaglia, Tim Southerton, Karen Magee and David Keefe.

Q: I was recently diagnosed with an illness that may impact my ability to continue working. I have some treatments scheduled as a result of my diagnosis and they will likely be a determining factor with regard to my continued employment. Since I'm a 48-year-old Tier 4 member, I'm not yet eligible to retire. However, I've heard there's a disability option I might be eligible for. Could you provide me with more information, and suggestions on how to proceed?

A: As a Tier 4 member, you're eligible to apply for a disability retirement if you have 10 years of service credit. Everyone's situation is different, but investigating the possibility of a disability retirement is something you should consider. You might also consider filing for disability protection. This step is often taken when members are critically ill, but not yet ready to file for service or disability retirement. It's the best way to protect your beneficiaries when facing serious health challenges. You can find information about filing for disability protection and disability retirement at, or contact NYSTRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6010.

Q: In the wake of natural disasters like 2012's Superstorm Sandy, does NYSTRS have a system in place to ensure benefit recipients receive their payments in a safe and timely manner?

A: Yes, NYSTRS does have a business continuity plan in place to ensure that system operations continue as smoothly as possible during times of natural disaster. An offsite disaster recovery center ensures staff can both carry out essential business operations, and provide outreach to members in affected areas. For instance, during Superstorm Sandy, the vast majority of direct deposit payments, which account for 98 percent of NYSTRS benefits, posted on time at banking institutions. NYSTRS has long pushed the use of direct deposit benefit payments to reduce the risk of late or stolen payments, including during times of natural disasters.


Two types of service credit are available for active military duty: service preceding New York State Teachers' Retirement System membership, and service interrupting NYSTRS membership. In all cases, honorable discharge documentation is required to verify military service.