April 2015 Issue
March 25, 2015

ERS: Vesting 101

Author: State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Source: NYSUT United

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoliIf you're a vested member of the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System, you are guaranteed a pension benefit, even if you're no longer working for a public employer within New York state.

Q: How do I know if I'm vested?

A: The vesting requirement is determined by your membership tier. Members in Tiers 1 through 4 must accrue at least five years of service credit; Tier 5 and 6 members must have at least 10 years. To determine the amount of service credit you have, check your latest Member Annual Statement. (Service credit totals generally are not available to Tier 1 members as their service began prior to the automation of our records.)

Once you accrue the minimum service credit, vesting is automatic. You don't have to complete any paperwork. However, you must file a Retirement Application (form RS6037) when you become eligible to retire and wish to receive your pension.

Q: Once I'm vested, what's the earliest date I can start collecting my benefit?

A: Most members may retire as early as their 55th birthday. However, if you're a Tier 1 or 2 member who has left public service before 55, the earliest you can retire is the first of the month following your 55th birthday.

Q: If I retire at 55, will I receive my full pension benefit?

A: Yes, you will receive a full pension if you're a:

  • Tier 1 member; or
  • Tier 2, 3 or 4 member retiring with 30 or more years of service credit.

Your benefit will be permanently reduced when retiring under a regular retirement plan (not a disability retirement) if you are a:

  • Tier 2, 3 or 4 member retiring prior to age 62 with less than 30 years of service credit;
  • Tier 5 member retiring prior to age 62; or
  • Tier 6 member retiring prior to age 63.

Members in Tiers 2, 3 and 4 (with less than 30 years of service credit) and Tier 5 can receive their full benefit if retiring at 62 (age 63 for Tier 6 members). If you don't qualify for the full benefit, visit our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/early_age_reduction.php to see what the percentage of the reduction will be based on your tier and age.

For more information on vesting and your benefits, be sure to read your plan booklet, available from your employer, our website or our call center.

Every month state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, sole trustee of the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System, provides information on the system, which delivers retirement benefits to many NYSUT School-Related Professionals and other support staff. If you are an ERS member with a question of general interest, email united@nysutmail.org.

For immediate assistance, contact the ERS Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District area.