Q: I recently read that a state constitutional convention vote will occur in 2017. What does this mean, and how could it impact me?
A: A constitutional convention vote could impact you, and every other New York state resident, a great deal. The New York State Constitution mandates that every 20 years voters decide whether to hold a statewide constitutional convention — basically a forum to tweak, change or radically makeover the state constitution.
Since the state constitution safeguards the fundamental rights you enjoy as a New York state citizen, including guaranteed pension benefits, the right to unionize and free public education, fiddling around with it is akin to opening Pandora's box. NYSUT is encouraging members to mobilize in 2017 to help voters understand what's on the line if a constitutional convention takes place. Voters rejected a constitutional convention in 1997 after concerned activists worked together to educate voters about the risks of opening the state constitution.
Q: I got a letter recently from a company that said they could teach me how to max out my pension. Are solicitations like this legitimate?
A: As the old saying goes, "buyer beware." Don't trust any New York State Teachers' Retirement System-related information that comes from sources other than your teacher-member NYSTRS representatives or the system itself. It's important that information you use to determine your future retirement plans not come from someone trying to sell you products or services. As your representatives, TRS reps will never tell you what you should or should not do; they only help you fully understand, and be aware of, the many retirement options available to you through the system.
DID YOU KNOW
The New York State Teachers' Retirement System has an app. Available from the Apple App and Google Play stores, it provides access to NYSTRS.org and features a countdown to retirement clock and pension eligibility information.