Refer to our Retirement FAQs for answers to many common questions.
1. Does retirement begin automatically when I stop working?
No. You must file a retirement application with the System. Your effective date of retirement can be the same day you file, but you cannot apply any sooner than 90 days prior to your retirement date.
2. How is my retirement benefit paid?
Your retirement benefit is paid in 12 monthly payments, directly deposited into your checking or savings account on the last business day of each month.
3. Does the final average salary (FAS) used in the calculation of a retirement benefit have to be the average of the last three years (Tiers 2-5) or five years (Tier 6)?
No. Although in most cases this will be true, it will be the average of the highest three or five consecutive years whenever they occurred in the salary history. (Note: Tier 1 members are eligible for either a three-year or five-year FAS, whichever provides the better benefit.)
4. Can I retire at age 55 without a reduction to my pension, or do I have to wait until I am age 62?
If you are a Tier 1 member, you may retire at any age with 35 years of service, 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.
If you are a Tier 2, 3, or 4 member who is at least age 55, you can retire without a pension reduction as long as you have 30 years of service credit. If you have less than 30 years of service credit when you retire, your pension will be reduced unless you are at least age 62.
If you are a Tier 5 member, you may retire at age 55 with 10 years of service credit. If you retire prior to age 57 (regardless of how much service you have), or if you retire between ages 57-62 and have less than 30 years of service, the pension factor is reduced based on your age.
If you are a Tier 6 member, you may retire at age 55 with 10 years of service credit. If you retire prior to age 63 (regardless of your total service), the pension factor is reduced based on your age.
5. Does a local retirement incentive payment or payment for unused leave affect my retirement benefit?
If you are a Tier 1 member whose date of membership precedes June 17, 1971, you are eligible for a five-year final average salary (FAS) calculation that can include such payments. In such a case, NYSTRS will automatically use whichever FAS (the five-year FAS or the standard three-year FAS) results in a higher pension calculation.
6. What is the difference between the date of resignation I provided my employer and my date of retirement with NYSTRS?
For NYSTRS purposes, the effective date of retirement that you enter on your retirement application must be at least one day beyond the last date you earned salary under contract. For example, if you last earn salary under contract on June 30, the earliest effective date of retirement you could select is July 1.
7. I stopped working and was eligible to collect my retirement benefits three years ago. If I file now, will I receive retroactive payments?
No. Retirement benefits are not retroactive. If you are not working in New York State public employment, you may collect your pension even if you are in private, out-of-state, or federal employment.
8. Can I withdraw my retirement application once it's filed?
Yes. If you file for service retirement, you may withdraw your retirement application – or change your retirement date – by notifying NYSTRS with a signed request within 14 days after your effective date of retirement. If you file for disability retirement, you may withdraw your retirement application by filing a signed request any time before the latter of: a) the date the Retirement Board acts upon the application, or b) the date the retirement becomes effective. If the letter is sent to NYSTRS by Certified Mail or Registered Mail, it will be considered received on the date it was postmarked.
Your employer's policy for withdrawing a retirement application or changing a date of retirement may differ from NYSTRS'. Some employers, for example, may consider a letter of resignation or retirement irrevocable. You should consult with your employer's human resources or business office, or with a representative of your bargaining unit, to determine the local policy on filing for retirement.
9. After I retire, can I return to teaching in a New York State public school?
After you retire, you may return to teaching in a New York State public school and earn a limited amount of income within a calendar year without affecting your pension. Please see our pamphlet Working in Retirement for more information.
10. What should I do when a retiree receiving a NYSTRS benefit dies?
Call NYSTRS at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6140. Also see When a Loved One Passes, a checklist for reporting the death of a retiree.