May 2016 Issue
April 22, 2016

ERS: What you need to know about Tier 6

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

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoliIt's been just over four years since the creation of our most recent tier — Tier 6. From April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2015, almost 96,000 members joined the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System (NYSLRS) under Tier 6.

Your tier determines a lot of things, including the formula used to calculate your benefits, your eligibility for service or disability retirement, the terms of a possible death benefit and loan eligibility. Tier 6 may be the newest member of the NYSLRS family, but one important benefit has not changed — when you are eligible, you can receive a pension for the rest of your life.

As a Tier 6 member, you will contribute between 3 to 6 percent of your earnings to offset the cost of your pension. During the first three years of membership, your contribution rate is based on your annual wage, as provided by your employer on your Membership Application. After this three-year period, your contribution rate will be based on what you actually earned two years prior. Once you have at least 10 years of retirement system service credit, you will be vested. This means that you will be eligible to apply for a retirement benefit as early as age 55, even if you leave public employment before you are old enough to retire. If you retire before the age of 63, your benefit will be permanently reduced, regardless of the amount of service credit you have.

When it comes time for you to retire, we will average your highest five consecutive years of earnings to determine your Final Average Salary (FAS). While there are several other factors that can affect what you will receive every month when you retire, your FAS is an important basis for your retirement benefit calculation.

Death benefits are also available for Tier 6 members. If your death is due to an on-the-job accident, an Accidental Death Benefit would be payable to beneficiaries specified by law. There is no minimum service credit requirement for the Accidental Death Benefit. You must have at least one year of service credit to qualify for the Ordinary Death Benefit, which is a dollar amount payable upon your death to one or more beneficiaries whom you have designated.

For more information on your Tier 6 membership, including the formula used to calculate your FAS as well as charts that show overtime limitations and the reductions for retiring prior to the age of 63, please visit our website at

NYSUT ERS Consultants

Most NYSUT School-Related Professionals* belong to the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System (ERS). NYSUT ERS consultants are available to help SRP members navigate the retirement system. Consultants can answer questions, provide forms and help members contact the ERS. Contact any one of our consultants for assistance.

*Note: Certified teaching assistants belong to the state Teachers' Retirement System (TRS).

Every issue 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

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