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Serving New York Educators Since 1921

Learning About NYSTRS

About the System  |  Actuarial Information  
  Investments  |  Member Statistics  |  Member Benefits  
  Additional Benefit Information  | System Information & Services    Publications   

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This booklet is designed to provide a brief overview of the administration, operation and benefits of the New York State Teachers' Retirement System.

Our Mission:
To provide our members with a secure pension.

Our Vision:
To be the model for pension fund excellence and exceptional customer service.

About the System

The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) was established in 1921 by an act of the state legislature and is the second-largest of eight public retirement systems in New York State. NYSTRS administers the fund from which public school teachers and administrators employed outside New York City receive retirement and ancillary benefits.

NYSTRS directs a defined benefit plan. In addition to a service retirement pension, this includes disability and death benefits; the ability to borrow from member contributions; and, in some cases, coverage for beneficiaries. Payments to eligible members and beneficiaries are guaranteed by law and cannot be reduced under New York's current constitution. Benefits generally take into account factors such as age, years of service, final average salary and tier of membership.

Benefit improvements, such as early retirement incentives, must be enacted into law by the state legislature and governor. NYSTRS is charged only with administering the plan as provided by law.

Each year the System adopts a program of legislative proposals to streamline operations or address certain inequities in benefits. In addition, it provides the legislature with statistical and cost information on bills affecting members.

NYSTRS membership as of June 30, 2014 totaled more than 270,000 active members and nearly 156,000 retirees and beneficiaries.

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The Retirement Board and Staff

A 10-member Retirement Board sets policy and oversees System operations. Trustees serve without compensation and represent various constituents, including active and retired teachers, school administrators, school boards and taxpayers. The make-up of the Board is prescribed by law:

  • Three teacher members are elected from the membership, one each year, by delegates to the System's Annual Meeting;
  • One NYSTRS retiree is elected (if there is more than one candidate) by a mail vote of all retired members;
  • Two school administrators are appointed by the state Commissioner of Education;
  • Two present or former school board members, experienced in the fields of finance and investment, are elected by the Board of Regents based on recommendations of the New York State School Boards Association. At least one of these individuals must have experience as an executive of an insurance company;
  • One present or former bank executive is elected by the Board of Regents; and,
  • The State Comptroller or a designee.

All members serve three-year terms except the Comptroller, who serves while in office. The Board meets four times a year: in January, April, July and October. Additional meetings are called when necessary.

Members serve on the following subcommittees that report to the full Board: Audit; Compensation; Disability Review; Ethics; Executive; Investment; and, Retired Members.

Members of the Board are responsible as fiduciaries to protect the long-term value of the System's investment portfolio and provide benefit security for members. They are entrusted to invest funds at the highest possible long-term rate of return consistent with appropriate levels of diversity and risk. The funds must be invested with the care, skill and diligence that a prudent person familiar with such matters would use to ensure that sufficient assets are on hand to pay promised benefits when they come due. This must be accomplished at the lowest possible cost to participating employers.

The Board receives counsel from staff, advisory committees and investment consultants to help formulate its investment policy. Further information on this topic appears in the Investments section.

An Executive Director heads a staff of nearly 400 full-time employees responsible for the day-to-day operation of the System.

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State Supervision and Audits

Financial information and internal controls are subject to audit by the New York State Insurance Department and the System's Internal Audit Department. An independent, certified public accounting firm also reviews all financial statements and actuarial assumptions annually.

Membership

Membership in this System is mandatory and automatic for all full-time teachers, teaching assistants, guidance counselors and administrators employed in (1) New York State public schools (excluding New York City), (2) BOCES or (3) eligible charter schools that opted to participate as an employer in NYSTRS. Membership for teachers employed less than full time is optional. Employers are required to notify part-time teachers in writing of their right to membership in the System.

Teachers employed by a New York State community college or SUNY may elect membership in NYSTRS, the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System or the Optional Retirement Program.

Individuals hired on or after July 1, 2013 with estimated annual wages of $75,000 or more who are not members of a NYSUT bargaining unit may join the Optional Retirement Program instead of NYSTRS.

Membership Tiers

For many years, all System members were covered by the same retirement plan. Following the enactment of major benefit improvements in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was concern over the rising cost of public employee pensions and the marked increase in the number of legislative proposals seeking further benefit improvements. As a result, Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1971 created the Permanent Commission on Public Employee Pension and Retirement Systems to address these concerns.

In 1973, based upon the recommendations of the Pension Commission, the legislature enacted a new retirement plan (creating Tier 2) that generally reduced benefits to all public employees joining the workforce on or after July 1, 1973. Similarly, laws were passed in 1976 (creating Tier 3) and 1983 (creating Tier 4), which, among other changes, made it mandatory for new members to contribute toward their retirement. Tier 5 (effective Jan. 1, 2010) and Tier 6 (effective April 1, 2012) further restricted vesting and retirement eligibility rights, and altered member contribution requirements.

Since members are covered by the constitutional guarantee that prohibits the elimination or diminishment of a benefit once it is granted, the tier legislation was prospective in nature, affecting only those members who joined the Retirement System on or after the effective date of the law. As a result, there are six tiers of membership, based upon date of membership, with different benefit calculations and eligibility requirements for each tier.

Tier 1: Membership prior to 7/1/73
Tier 2: Membership 7/1/73 — 7/26/76
Tier 3: Membership 7/27/76 — 8/31/83*
Tier 4: Membership 9/1/83 — 12/31/09
Tier 5: Membership 1/1/10 — 3/31/12
Tier 6: Membership on or after 4/1/12

*Tier 3 members are eligible for benefits under Tier 3 or 4, whichever provides the better benefit.

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Employer Responsibilities

By statute, school districts and other participating employers have certain responsibilities that play a significant role in providing timely and accurate information used to determine benefits paid to members. The various responsibilities include:

  • Enrolling all full-time contractual teachers in NYSTRS;
  • Notifying (in writing) part-time teachers of their right to join, and enrolling those who opt to do so;
  • Making deductions from member salaries and reporting employment, salary and contributions on a monthly basis;
  • Approving or denying repayment of member loans by payroll deduction;
  • Validating service credit and salary for members;
  • Informing NYSTRS of the death of active members;
  • Understanding the rules governing the employment of retired public employees and, as applicable, obtaining the required approval for such employment; and,
  • Distributing NYSTRS materials to staff.

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Actuarial Information

Funding

System income comes from three sources: employer contributions, member contributions and investment income. The funding cycle is as follows: Each year school districts make contributions on behalf of all active System members. These contributions are made in accordance with the actuarially determined employer contribution rate (ECR). In addition, certain members are required by law to make member contributions. The System invests the employer and member contributions throughout a member's career and accumulates the assets necessary to provide a fully funded benefit in retirement. This method of funding is called advance funding.

Since advance funding allows the investment of contributions over a member's lifetime, the System has the opportunity to generate income from these investments. This income can fund a large portion of the pension and may help substantially reduce school district costs for retirement benefits.

If advance funding were not used, the entire pension would have to be paid directly from employer and member contributions, without the benefit of investment income. Employer contributions would not begin until a member retires and would often continue for many years in retirement. With this type of funding, known as pay-as-you-go funding, employer costs would be substantially higher.

Advance funding, as opposed to pay-as-you-go funding, should continue to provide substantial savings for school districts and the state’s taxpayers in years to come because of the following advantages:

Investment Income — The System is able to collect and invest money, with the investment income used to reduce employer costs.

Level Contributions — Advance funding allows for a more level contribution pattern and makes budget planning easier.

Generational Equity — Under advance funding, each generation of taxpayers pays only for the benefits earned by its public employees as they work. If benefits were funded as they became due (pay-as-you-go funding), those paying taxes at the time of a member’s retirement would be required to pay for the entire benefit.

Strong Portfolio — NYSTRS is one of the 10-largest public retirement funds in the country and is consistently among the best performers. A sound asset allocation policy within a diversified portfolio protects the total fund and allows the System to weather turbulent markets. Asset allocations and total portfolio construction are reviewed annually and adjusted accordingly.

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Investments

The Retirement System's assets are invested in the most prudent manner possible in order to achieve optimum long-term total returns with an appropriate level of risk. The allocation of assets within the portfolio, as well as the fund's overall structure, are continuously reviewed and adjusted to achieve these goals.

The System's long-term investment approach helps it tolerate the short-term volatility of the capital markets. This strategy also enables the payment of promised benefits to members and their beneficiaries at the lowest appropriate cost to participating employers and their taxpayers, while providing members with the greatest benefit security. In many cases, especially for new teachers, benefit payments will not commence until 30 to 40 years after a member joined the System.

As of June 30, 2014, the Retirement System's net assets available for pension benefits were $108.2 billion. NYSTRS staff and external investment managers, following the policies adopted by the Retirement Board, are responsible for the daily investment decisions. The Investment Advisory Committee and the Real Estate Advisory Committee – established by the Retirement Board – advise the Board and staff on investment objectives, economic trends and investment opportunities. The performance of each external investment manager is carefully monitored by both staff and the System's investment consultants to ensure compliance with NYSTRS' investment policies and objectives.

The long-term objective of the investment policy is to achieve returns that exceed those of comparable asset class benchmarks, but are, in aggregate, not less than the actuarial assumption, which is currently 8% per annum. Additionally, each external investment manager is expected to outperform, over a market cycle, the appropriate benchmark.

Asset Allocation

The most significant contributor to long-term investment performance is the allocation of assets to each of the various asset classes, such as equities, fixed income and real estate. The allocation process helps control risk and sets policy guidelines to diversify the Retirement System's assets. The asset allocation policy, adopted by the Retirement Board, establishes ranges for each asset class target allocation. The Retirement Board, with the assistance of staff and an external consultant, annually reviews the asset allocation policy, taking into consideration recent and historical investment experience, as well as the System's long-term expectations for the capital markets. Refer to the Investments section of the System's Annual Report for the asset allocation targets and ranges. You can access the Annual Report online or request a copy by calling (800) 782-0289.

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Employer Contribution Rate

The employer contribution rate (ECR), which is the same for all tiers, is expressed as a uniform percentage of member payroll and is set more than a year in advance of its collection. The rate is adopted annually by the Retirement Board at its July meeting, but the contributions associated with that rate will not be collected for another 14-16 months, which allows employers time to budget accordingly. Except in the case of a few employers required to pay directly, payments are deducted from State Aid apportioned during September, October and November of each school year.

The ECR is determined annually by the System's actuarial valuation of its assets and liabilities. This valuation encompasses estimates of future salaries and projected benefit payments for all members. The projections are based upon current member data as well as the following actuarial assumptions regarding future events:

  • Rate of return on assets;
  • Rate of salary growth;
  • Mortality rates for active, retired and disabled members; and,
  • Rates of retirement, disability and withdrawal.

Even with the enactment of several substantial benefit improvements, the ECR was in single digits for 22 consecutive years beginning in the 1989-90 school year. For six fiscal years, 1997-2003, the ECR was less than 2% of member salaries, with three of these fiscal years having an ECR of less than 1% of salaries. The substantial decline in the ECR was primarily the result of high rates of investment return.

Following are the employer contribution rates over the last 20 years.

Fiscal Year

Employer Contribution Rate

1995-96

6.37%

1996-97

3.57%

1997-98

1.25%

1998-99

1.42%

1999-00

1.43%

2000-01

0.43%

2001-02

0.36%

2002-03

0.36%

2003-04

2.52%

2004-05

5.63%

2005-06

7.97%

2006-07

8.60%

2007-08

8.73%

2008-09

7.63%

2009-10

6.19%

2010-11

8.62%

2011-12

11.11%

2012-13

11.84%

2013-14

16.25%

2014-15

17.53%

The actuarial assumptions, methods and procedures used by the System's actuary to calculate employer contributions are reviewed annually by outside independent auditors. All have been found to be reasonable and appropriate, and in compliance with generally accepted actuarial principles and practices.

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The Investment Portfolio

NYSTRS' investment portfolio is comprised of several components.

The domestic equity portfolio is both passively and actively managed in an effort to maximize investment returns at appropriate levels of risk while minimizing expenses. Approximately 95% is managed passively by staff with the remaining 5% actively managed by two external managers.

The Retirement System's international equities are generally managed by external managers. The international equity fund is 75% passively managed and 25% actively managed.

There are two objectives of the Retirement System's domestic fixed income portfolio. The first is to generate cash flow to contribute toward the payment of the System's $6.3 billion annual retirement payroll. The second is to provide stability to the System's total investment portfolio through diversification.

Private equity investments are generally limited partnerships in which the Retirement System, as a limited partner, commits a fixed amount that the general partner will invest over several years. The partnership structure may cover periods of 10 years or more, and is intended to achieve higher long-term returns than those available through marketable securities.

The System's real estate and mortgage portfolios contribute to overall fund diversification. During non-recessionary periods, these asset classes are consistently among the System's strongest performers.

The short-term fixed income portfolio is comprised of high-quality securities that are easily converted into cash. The main purposes of the portfolio are to have money readily available to satisfy the monthly payment of pension benefits, invest in other asset classes, and support the operating obligations of the Retirement System.

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Member Statistics as of June 30, 2014

Membership Summary

  Male Female Total
Active Members 64,265 205,774 270,039
Retired Members 50,820 99,448 150,268
Beneficiaries 1,282 4,381 5,663
Total 116,367 309,603 425,970

 

Number of Active Members by Tier

As of June 30 Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3  Tier 4 Tier 5 Tier 6 Total
1995 64,093 17,012 25,206 93,087 199,398
1996 58,850 16,596 24,546 100,926 200,918
1997 53,502 16,186 23,861 110,167 203,716
1998 49,266 15,860 23,302 120,652 209,080
1999 50,859 15,776 20,726 128,906 216,267
2000 47,234 15,700 20,159 141,893 224,986
2001 41,169 15,472 19,914 157,795 234,350
2002 35,601 15,121 19,674 172,438 242,834
2003 28,327 14,463 19,083 185,374 247,247
2004 22,986 13,947 18,835 198,747 254,515
2005 17,901 13,210 18,535 210,710 260,356
2006 13,621 12,084 18,173 220,532 264,410
2007 10,838 10,178 17,743 231,286 270,045
2008 8,630 8,171 17,007 241,093 274,901
2009 6,943 6,752 16,111 250,532 280,338
2010 5,582 5,706 14,942 255,966 3,578 285,774
2011 3,814 4,137 12,690 247,530 12,264 280,435
2012 2,756 3,253 11,180 239,199 19,969 916 277,273
2013 1,968 2,447 9,450 231,258 19,452 8,753 273,328
2014 1,439 1,810 7,753 222,545 19,124 17,368 270,039

Distribution of Retired Members
And Beneficiaries by Tier

Members Retired for: Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Total
Service* 98,735 16,198 14,474 (242)**
18,776 148,183
Disability 795 194 269 (33)** 827 2,085

Beneficiaries of Deceased:
Service Annuitants 4,694 221 174 (3)** 158 5,247
Disability Annuitants 176 23 26 (5)**
40 265
Active Members 148 2 1 (0)** 0 151

Total

104,548

16,638

14,944 (283)**

19,801

155,931

*Also includes vested retirees.
**Those receiving an Article 14 (Tier 3) benefit. The remainder are receiving an Article 15 (Tier 4) benefit. Tier 3 members receive the better of the two benefits.

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Member Benefits

Tier of membership, service credit, age, and earnings are factors that determine the benefits members are eligible for while working and in retirement. Most members will receive a service retirement benefit.

A member who becomes disabled and cannot continue to work may qualify for a disability retirement benefit. When a member dies prior to collecting a retirement benefit, a death benefit will be paid to a beneficiary if eligibility requirements are met.

Eligibility requirements and calculations for each type of benefit differ by tier. An overview of each follows.

Service Retirement Benefit

Eligibility

Tier 1 members may retire at any age with 35 years of New York State service credit, or at age 55 with five or more years of service. Retirement may also occur at age 55 with less than five years of service, if two years are credited since age 53.

Tier 2, 3 and 4 members may retire at age 55 with five years of credited state service. Tier 5 and 6 members may retire at age 55 with 10 years of state service credit.

Generally, the maximum pension payable to Tier 1 and 2 members (with two years of credit under the Benefit Enhancement law, a description of which follows) is 79% of final average salary. For members retiring under Tiers 4 and 5, the pension for 30 years of service is 60% of final average salary. Each year beyond 30 years adds 1 ½% to their pension factor, and there is no maximum pension.

Tier 6 members retiring prior to age 63 will, without exception, receive a reduced benefit. Before any reductions, a Tier 6 member with more than 20 years of service will receive a pension of 35% of final average salary plus 2% for every year beyond 20 years. There is no maximum Tier 6 pension.

Benefit Enhancement

As a result of Article 19 Benefit Enhancement legislation enacted in 2000, eligible Tier 1 and 2 members receive one-twelfth of a year of additional credit at retirement for each year of service up to a maximum of two years. In addition, although it has no effect on pension eligibility, the law allows Tier 3 and 4 members to stop making 3% required contributions when they have 10 years of membership or credit, whichever occurs first.

Pension Calculation

A pension is the retirement benefit determined by the following formula:

Pension Factor x Age Factor (if applicable) x Final Average Salary =
Maximum Annual Pension

Pension Factor: A percent based on a member’s service credit. The percentage increases with additional service in most cases. (See calculations below.)

Age Factor: Depending on a member's age and service credit at retirement, an age factor may be applied to the benefit calculation. No age reduction applies to Tier 2-4 members who retire either at: age 62 or later; or, with at least 30 years of service credit. No age reduction applies to Tier 5 members who retire either at: age 62 or later; or, at age 57 or later with at least 30 years of service credit. No age reduction applies to Tier 6 members who retire at age 63 or later.

Final Average Salary (FAS): For Tier 2-5 members, this is the average of their highest three consecutive school years of salary earned, whenever they occurred in the salary history. Typically, it is the average of the member's last three years. Tier 1 members are eligible for a five-year FAS if it provides a greater benefit than the three-year calculation. In addition, Tier 1 members with a date of membership prior to June 17, 1971 are generally eligible for a five-year calculation without the three-year exclusions. Tier 6 members must use a five-year FAS with restrictions on includable salaries.

Pension Factor Calculation by Tier

Tier 1:

  • 2% x years of NYS service since July 1, 1959, including any applicable benefit enhancement credit.
  • 1.8% x years of NYS service before July 1, 1959.
  • 1% x years of out-of-state service prior to NYSTRS membership (10-year maximum).*
  • 5% reduction in pension for each full year of NYS service under 20 years (prorated for partial years with a maximum reduction of 50%).

Tier 2:

  • Computed under the Tier 1 formula, including applicable benefit enhancement credit and/or the 5% reduction for each year of NYS service under 20 years. (Note: Tier 2 members cannot claim out-of-state service unless it was credited under a previous Tier 1 membership.)
  • A prorated reduction of up to 27% when retirement occurs before age 62 with less than 30 years of NYS service.
  • No reductions if the member is age 62 with at least 20 years of service, or at age 55 with 30 years or more.

Tier 3**:

  • 1.67% x years of NYS service if credited with less than 20 years, or 2% x years of NYS service if credited with 20 to 30 years.
  • 60% maximum for 30 years or more.
  • A prorated reduction of up to 30% when retirement occurs before age 62 with less than 30 years of NYS service.
  • No reductions if the member is age 62, or if credit totals 30 years or more.
  • At age 62 (or at retirement, if older), benefit reduced by 50% of primary Social Security benefit accrued while in NYS public employment.

Tier 4:

  • 1.67% x years of NYS service if credited with less than 20 years, or 2% x years of NYS service if credited with 20 to 30 years.
  • 60% plus 1.5% for each year of NYS service beyond 30 years.
  • A prorated reduction of up to 27% when retirement occurs before age 62 with less than 30 years of NYS service.
  • No reductions if the member is age 62, or if credit totals 30 years or more.

Tier 5:

  • 1.67% x years of NYS service if credited with less than 25 years, or 2% x years of NYS service if credited with 25 to 30 years.
  • 60% plus 1.5% for each year of NYS service beyond 30 years.
  • A prorated reduction of up to 38% when retirement occurs before age 62 with less than 30 years of service.
  • No reduction if the member is age 62, or if credit totals 30 years or more of service and the member is at least age 57.

Tier 6:

  • 1.67% x years of NYS service if credited with less than 20 years, or 1.75% x years of NYS service if credited with 20 years.
  • 35% plus 2% per year beyond 20 years of service.
  • A prorated reduction of up to 52% when retirement occurs before age 63 regardless of your total service.

*Any portion of this credit that brings the total service credit beyond 35 years is excluded from the pension calculation. Benefit Enhancement credit is not used to establish the 35-year threshold.
**Tier 3 members are entitled to receive either the benefits under Tier 3 or 4, whichever are greater.

Disability Retirement Benefit

Generally, all members who are credited with at least 10 years of New York State service (five years for Tier 3 members) who become disabled as defined by applicable statute are eligible for a disability retirement benefit from the Retirement System. The disability benefit is generally one-third of a member's final average salary. However, the benefit may be more or less depending on the member's age and service credit. For Tier 3-6 members who become disabled as a result of an accident sustained in the performance of their teaching duties, the five-year or 10-year eligibility requirement is waived.

Disability benefits are subject to the review and approval of the System's Medical and Retirement boards.

Death Benefits

NYSTRS offers several types of death benefits: In-Service (which includes post-retirement coverage for Tiers 2-6); Accidental; Vested; and, Accelerated.  Eligibility depends on an individual's membership status and, in certain cases, the cause or timing of death. 

In-Service Death Benefit

Tier 1: The in-service death benefit is generally equal to one-twelfth of the member's last 12 months of regular compensation for each year of service, to a maximum of three times his/her earnings. (The amount may be larger if the member was eligible to retire without a pension reduction. This is sometimes referred to as the Death Gamble.)

Tiers 2–6 (Paragraph 2): All Tier 2-6 members are covered by the Paragraph 2 Death Benefit, unless they selected Paragraph 1 and it is greater than Paragraph 2. Members joining after Jan. 1, 2001 are automatically covered by the Paragraph 2 benefit.

The in-service death benefit is generally equal to one year's salary after a year of service, and it increases to a maximum of three years' salary after three or more years of service. The benefit declines after age 60. If the in-service death benefit is in effect when the member retires, there is also a survivor benefit, regardless of the benefit payment choice made at retirement.

Accidental Death Benefit

An accidental death benefit is payable in the form of a pension to eligible surviving family of Tier 3-6 members who die as the result of an accident sustained in the performance of their teaching duties. It would be paid in lieu of an in-service death benefit.

Vested Death Benefit

Members who have at least 10 years of service credit but are not eligible for the in-service death benefit are covered until retirement by a vested death benefit. It would be equal to one-half of the active member death benefit that would have been paid if the member had died on the last day of creditable service.

Accelerated Death Benefit

A member who qualifies for disability retirement and has either a terminal illness or one requiring extraordinary care can elect to receive a one-time only payment in lieu of both a monthly retirement benefit and a death benefit paid to a beneficiary.

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Additional Benefit Information

Member Contributions

Tier 1 and 2 members who made voluntary contributions, transferred contributions from another public retirement system or purchased prior service credit may withdraw those funds (and interest earned) at retirement, or receive an annuity throughout retirement in addition to the employer-funded pension described earlier.

Tier 3 and 4 members are required by law to contribute 3% of salary until they have 10 years of membership or are credited with 10 years of service, whichever occurs first. Tier 5 members are required by law to contribute 3.5% of their salary throughout their active membership. Tier 6 members are required to contribute a percentage of their salary throughout their active membership.

Loans

Eligible members who have made member contributions may borrow from those funds.

Reinstatement

NYSTRS members with a previous membership in any New York State public retirement system are eligible for reinstatement to an earlier date of membership. Reinstatement is irrevocable.

Transfer and Prior Service

Some members are eligible to transfer membership from another New York State public retirement system or claim credit for public service prior to their date of membership in NYSTRS.

Military Service Credit

Eligible members may purchase credit for designated periods of active military service prior to NYSTRS membership. Members may also be eligible for credit if military service interrupts teaching service.

Retirement Options

At the time of retirement, a member may elect either the Maximum retirement benefit with no protection for a beneficiary, or one of several actuarially equivalent options (including lump sum, lifetime survivor, guarantee period or alternative) providing financial protection for a beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

All retirees will receive an automatic, annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) when they meet the eligibility requirements. The annual adjustment, applied to the first $18,000 of the pension, will be a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 3% based on 50% of the March-to-March increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

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System Information and Services

Benefit Profile

A summary of membership, and projections of current and future benefits. Mailed to active members annually.

Retired Member Profile

A summary of benefits, including payment choice and net monthly amount. Mailed to retired members or their beneficiaries annually.

Benefits Consultations

Individual meetings with System information representatives, in person or through video conferencing, are available at locations throughout the state. Consultation schedules are posted in school buildings and on the Benefits Consultations page of our website.

Pension & Retirement Education Program (PREP)

These programs, open to all active members and their spouses/companions, cover a variety of retirement-related topics. Schedules are posted in school buildings and on the PREP page of our website.

Group Benefits Presentations

Upon request, NYSTRS representatives will come to your school and give a tailored benefits presentation to a group of members. Typical topics include new member orientation, mid-career retirement planning, and an overview of System benefits for all tiers. School districts, individual schools, delegates, or groups of members can arrange these presentations by calling (800) 348-7298, Ext. 2914.

Website

NYSTRS' website at www.nystrs.org is the quickest and easiest way to get updated information on legislation and news related to benefits. Members can read publications in our Library and print System forms. With a MyNYSTRS account, members can: access their personal membership information; view their Benefit Profile; change their address; apply for a loan; register for a Pension & Retirement Education Program (PREP); and, make an appointment for a benefits consultation.

Hotline

System forms and publications, and up-to-date recorded messages regarding legislation and other pertinent topics are available on the 24-hour Hotline at (800) 782-0289 or (518) 447-2636 from the Albany area.

800 Phone Service

Call the System during posted business hours at (800) 348-7298 or (518) 447-2900 from the Albany area.

Member Newsletters

The newsletters Your Source (for active members) and Resource (for retirees) contain pertinent benefit and retirement information. Each is published three times annually.

Your First Look at NYSTRS
A pamphlet for new or prospective members outlining NYSTRS' benefits. (PDF)

Active Members' Handbook
An overview of NYSTRS' benefit structure, addressing most questions members have about membership. (PDF)

Looking to the Future
A guide to NYSTRS services and publications at each stage of a member's career.

You Deserve the Credit
A look at various types of service credit that members may be eligible to claim.

Claiming Military Service
A guide to obtaining military service credit. (PDF)

If You Are No Longer Able to Work
A summary of NYSTRS benefits that may be available to members who must stop working due to a serious illness or injury.  

Maximum or an Option: Choosing a Benefit Payment Right for You
An explanation of the benefit payment choices members have at retirement. 

Countdown to Retirement
A look at the steps a member should take in the year leading up to retirement.  

The Path to Retirement: Understanding the Retirement Process
A guide for new NYSTRS retirees that explains how the System processes retirement applications.

Discovering Retirement
A guide to the opportunities and challenges that new retirees face.

Working in Retirement
A look at earnings limits and their effect on NYSTRS' retirement benefits.

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