July/August Issue
June 22, 2015

TRS: The when, and how, of vesting

Source: NYSUT United

Teacher-members on the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System Board of DirectorsQ: I'm a Tier 6 member. How many years of membership in the New York State Teachers' Retirement System must I have before I become vested?

A: First, a brief definition of vesting. Vested members accrue non-forfeitable rights over their employer's contributions to their NYSTRS retirement plan and are eligible for a future retirement benefit through NYSTRS — provided they haven't transferred or withdrawn their NYSTRS membership. Prior to becoming vested, members have ownership of their personal system contributions, but aren't entitled to employer contributions.

Your tier membership determines when you become vested. Tier 5 and 6 members vest with 10 years of state service credit; all other tiers vest with five years of service credit.

Q: I have five years of membership with NYSTRS as a Tier 5 member and I teach full-time. What would happen to my membership if I left my position before I became vested?

A: If you stayed in the teaching profession, you could keep your NYSTRS membership active by working the equivalent of 20 full-time days in a school year for a participating NYSTRS employer every seven years.

However, if you plan to leave the teaching profession, you should probably withdraw your member contributions, and interest earned, and cancel your membership.

Make note: Members who transfer or withdraw their NYSTRS membership aren't eligible to receive any portion of their employers' contributions.

If you return to teaching at a later date, you do have the option of reinstating your former membership under your former tier. As always, err on the side of caution. Before withdrawing your membership, contact NYSTRS to discuss the implications of doing so, 800-782-0289, ext. 6090.


The three teacher-members on the 10-member New York State Teachers' Retirement System Board serve staggered three-year terms and are elected by delegates representing districts statewide at the NYSTRS annual fall meeting.