Disability Retirement

If you are no longer able to work because of a serious illness or injury, you may qualify for a disability retirement benefit.

Contact Us

800-348-7298, ext. 6110
[email protected]

The information below summarizes the rules for a disability retirement benefit. If you suffer a disability or are critically ill, promptly call NYSTRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6010 to discuss filing for disability retirement immediately.

  • Tiers 1 and 2

    You must: a) have at least 10 years of New York State service (and, if you are a Tier 2 member, at least five years of the service must have occurred since last becoming a member), and b) be totally and permanently incapacitated from further teaching service, and c) cease teaching because of the disability.

    Tiers 3-6

    You must: a) have at least 10 years of NYS service, and b) be totally and permanently incapacitated from all further gainful employment, and c) file a disability application with NYSTRS within 12 months from the last date you were on the payroll (or, if you are placed on leave of absence without pay for medical reasons, no later than 12 months after the date your leave has been terminated).

    Under Tiers 3-6, the service requirement is waived if the disability resulted from an accident sustained in the performance of your teaching duties.

  • For all tiers, a disability retirement benefit is generally one-third of your final average salary. However, the benefit may be more or less depending on your age and service credit.

    For an estimate of your disability retirement benefit, please refer to your annual Benefit Profile or contact the System at 800-348-7298, ext. 6010. We will provide you with an estimate, as well as information and instructions on how to file for disability retirement. You may also print a Disability Retirement Estimate Request (EST-35.2) form and send it to NYSTRS. We will then mail you an estimate. 

    Please Note: Before you can receive a disability benefit, NYSTRS' Medical and Retirement Board must review and approve your retirement.

  • If you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, or are having surgery or treatment for a medical condition, consider filing a disability retirement application. Doing so provides an important safety net for you and your beneficiaries.

    To file for protection, you may use the online disability retirement application in your secure MyNYSTRS account under the My Retirement tab. Alternatively, you may print and complete the Application for Disability Retirement (RET-54.1) and Medical Information Summary (RET-54.1B) from the Disability Retirement Application Package, available on the Retirement-Related Forms page. Applications mailed to NYSTRS will be considered filed on the day they are mailed if they are mailed by registered or certified mail via the U.S. Postal Service, or by an equivalent delivery service that provides mail tracking and is approved for use by the System. Please see the list of delivery services currently approved by the System.

    Watch our video "Filing for Disability Protection: What You Need to Know." Refer to the Benefits chapter of the Active Members' Handbook for specific filing instructions.

    If your condition improves and the protection is no longer needed, you can withdraw the application and return to active service. Or, if you decide to retire for disability, you will have 30 days to change your option following approval by NYSTRS' Medical Board.