May 2016 Issue
June 03, 2016

TRS: Don't believe the hype — NYSTRS is healthy!

Source: NYSUT United

New York State TRS teamQ: I recently read, in a syndicated finance column, that the New York State Teachers' Retirement System is underfunded by $161 billion. Is this true?

A: Absolutely not. This claim is a textbook example of why you shouldn't believe everything you read. Here's the truth: With $110 billion in assets at the end of its most-recent fiscal year, NYSTRS is well-funded and managed cost effectively. Investment fees and expenses average 24 cents per $100 managed, as compared to 60 cents or more in fees associated with a private retirement plan, such as a 401(k).

Among the annual rankings of the top 1,000 pension funds, NYSTRS held steady at No. 9, according to the trade publication Pensions & Investments. The rankings were based on total assets as of Sept. 30, 2015 and both public and private retirement funds and plan sponsors were included in the rankings.

Q: I've heard that NYSTRS has unclaimed funds. How do I find out if I have any? And if I do, how do I claim them?

A: To date, the system's unclaimed funds account lists more than 1,600 names. Even more names appear in its abandoned account database, currently numbering more than 9,000. We encourage everyone to check the site and see if any of those missing monies belong to them. After all, it only takes a moment and could result in an unexpected windfall.

Visit the NYSTRS website at and select the unclaimed funds tab at the bottom left of the home page. The tab will direct you to two lists: unclaimed accounts and abandoned accounts. Both lists are alphabetical by last name and display the listed member's last known teaching location or place of death. The abandoned accounts list, which contains significantly more entries, is also searchable by last name or last known teaching location.

If you have unclaimed funds, first call NYSTRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6250, to discuss disbursement options and then complete and submit a withdrawal application (REF-7A).

Did you know?

NYSTRS has been recognized nationally as one of the best-funded pension plans in the nation. In 2011, the National Institute on Retirement Security highlighted NYSTRS as one of a few plans that remained strong during the peak of the Great Recession.