September 2017 Issue

TRS: COLA increase starts in September

Q: Do you know what the Cost-of-Living Adjustment will be for 2017?

A: Yes, we do. For eligible members who receive monthly benefits through the New York State Teachers' Retirement System, the annual COLA for September 2017 through August 2018 is 1.2 percent. That means the maximum COLA increase retired members will see is $18 a month.

And remember, that increase applies only to the first $18,000 in retirement benefits. If your entire retirement benefit totals less than $18,000 annually, you'll receive a smaller COLA increase; those who don't qualify for the COLA in September will receive the increase once they do become eligible.

COLAs help offset the impact of inflation by providing annual increases to TRS retirement benefits based on the cost-of-living index. To be eligible, you must meet one of the following criteria: Be at least 62 years old and retired more than five years; be 55 and older and retired 10-plus years; receive a NYSTRS disability benefit for at least five years, regardless of age; or be a surviving spouse of an eligible retiree, receiving a lifetime benefit. Note: spousal COLAs are half that of retiree COLAs.

Q: Retirement is still several years down the road, but I'd like to start planning ahead. Is it too early to attend a PREP seminar or a benefit consultation?

A: Absolutely not. In fact, the earlier you attend, the better. Benefit consultations and PREP seminars don't cost a thing, and you can attend as many sessions as you want over the course of your career.

Contacting TRS is the first step. Although free, consultations must be scheduled in advance. PREP seminars explain critical, benefit-related decisions and review financial and legal considerations. You can stay for an entire seminar, or select modules that address your concerns. A PREP video, poster and brochure are available at Contact TRS at 800-782-0289, ext. 6180, or use your MyNYSTRS account, to reserve a PREP seminar seat.

Personalized retirement benefit consultations, including a printed estimate of your retirement benefit, are available either in person or via videoconference at TRS offices statewide.

Dial 800-782-0289, ext. 6100, or use your MyNYSTRS account, to make an appointment.

Did you know?

A constitutional convention vote takes place Nov. 7 in New York State. Vote "no" to protect your retirement security!