COVID-19 Update & FAQs


NYSTRS is committed to customer service. The following COVID-19 related FAQs will keep you informed.

1. What's the best way for me to keep tabs on my membership and file forms?  

If you don’t have a MyNYSTRS account, create one now. This will allow you to file forms electronically, run benefit projections, correspond with us securely and utilize the many self-service tools available. With an account, you can file a service retirement application without needing to get a notarization.

To create an account, you will need to enter the last four digits of your Social Security number and your NYSTRS EmplID, so have those handy. The latter can be found on the Benefit Profile sent to you each fall or on personal correspondence you have received from NYSTRS.

2. How would a medical leave or paid leave of absence affect my pension?

You should discuss with your district the details of the medical leave or paid leave. In general, for members who take a leave from their jobs due to COVID-19, the amount of service credit earned and the amount of salary that may be factored into a final average salary will depend on the rate of pay given during the leave. 

Also see NYSTRS’ Administrative Bulletin 2020-3, "Leaves of Absence Prior to Retirement," which details the System’s position regarding the treatment, for pension purposes, of earnings paid pursuant to paid leaves of absence.

3. Given concerns with COVID-19, what are the eligibility rules to apply for disability protection?

If you haven’t been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, you should not file a disability retirement application with us related to the pandemic. While we certainly understand and share the health concerns that members have, a member cannot apply for disability protection just on the possibility that they might end up getting sick. You must have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition like COVID-19 or be facing a significant surgery in order to qualify.

In general, if you face a potentially life-threatening illness or surgery, pre-emptively filing a disability retirement application provides protection to a beneficiary if you were to die. In most cases, the lump-sum retirement payment a beneficiary would receive would be significantly more than an in-service death benefit. You should contact our Disability Unit at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6010 for additional information before making a decision to file. Our video "Filing for Disability Protection: What You Need to Know" is another helpful resource.

Another important step you can take when planning for the future is to have a power of attorney (POA) on file with NYSTRS. For more information see our Power of Attorney FAQs, which includes links to the Public Retirement System Special Power of Attorney form.

4. Does the COVID-19 death benefit for public employees apply to NYSTRS members?

If you die as a result of contracting COVID, you may be covered by the COVID-19 accidental death benefit. The annual payment to your statutory beneficiary would be a lifetime annuity of 50% of your most-recent year’s salary and is in lieu of the in-service death benefit. For more information regarding eligibility and claiming this benefit, please refer to our COVID-19 Accidental Death Benefit Fact Sheet.

5. Are retired public workers who returned to work during the COVID-19 crisis subject to the Section 212 earnings limit?

Section 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law governs New York State public employment by service retirees under age 65. The current Section 212 earnings limit, determined by the state Legislature, is $35,000 per calendar year. 

The earnings limit has been temporarily suspended at times by New York State executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Refer to the Retirees > Earnings After Retirement page for more information.

6. What resources are available to help me plan for retirement?

NYSTRS is here to guide you along the path to retirement. Many resources are available on our website and we are always a phone call – or a secure message through MyNYSTRS – away. We encourage you to take advantage of the following tools and resources.

  • PREP Videos: Watch videos of seminar modules on the PREP page of this website. There you will also find our PREP workbook, broken into chapters to correspond with the video modules.
  • Benefits Consultations: During a benefits consultation, a NYSTRS representative will discuss important information needed to file for retirement and answer your questions about your unique circumstances. Visit the Benefits Consultations page for more information and to schedule a consultation.
  • MyNYSTRS Tools: Use your secure online account to help you plan. The Pension Estimator enables you to run estimates of your projected benefit under various scenarios. Review your latest Benefit Profile, which includes estimates. You may also send us a secure message using your MyNYSTRS account. When you are ready to file for retirement, we encourage you to file securely online in MyNYSTRS. Don’t have an account? Registering for one is quick and easy. Just have your NYSTRS EmplID and the last four digits of your Social Security number handy.
  • Ready to Retire?: Our Ready to Retire page has links to a variety of publications, videos and forms to help you prepare for retirement.

If you have general questions, email them to our Information & Communication Center at [email protected]. You can also call us at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6250 or send us a secure message through your MyNYSTRS account.