When are retirement allowance checks distributed?
Retirement allowance checks are mailed three business days before the end of the month. EFT funds are wired to financial institutions on the last day of the month.
Is my first retirement allowance payment retroactive?
Yes. If you receive advance payments, your first payment will be retroactive to your effective retirement date (or initial payability date, if you retired under deferred payability). Your first regular payment will contain the amount you are due from the date of retirement, minus any advance payment(s) you have received, plus applicable interest.
What are advance payments?
In order to provide you with retirement income as quickly as possible, TRS issues advance payments of your retirement allowance beginning with the payroll approximately one to two months following your effective retirement date (or initial payability date, if you retired under deferred payability). However, if your regular retirement allowance is available at that time, you would receive your regular retirement allowance instead.
If TRS cannot finalize your retirement allowance within four months of your retirement date, we would increase the amount of your advance payments, so that they would be closer to the amount you will receive once your retirement is finalized.
Advance payments are not estimates of your retirement allowance payments; in fact, your advance payments are designed to be smaller than your retirement allowance payments. The advance payment calculations do not reflect all the factors used to determine your retirement allowance payments. TRS calculates your advance payments based on your retirement plan choice, payment election, salary, and any applicable age-reduction factor. Total Service Credit is not used in the advance payment calculations.
Can I pay my own federal taxes once I retire?
Yes. However, you should ask the Internal Revenue Service or your tax consultant for advice regarding "estimated taxes" in order to avoid the possibility of penalties due to underpayment.
Why does my monthly retirement allowance amount fluctuate?
There are several possible explanations. For example:
- Your first payment may contain retroactive funds, so subsequent payments may be smaller than your first payment.
- Deductions for insurance and union dues may have begun (usually in the first few payments).
- If you elect to change the amount of federal taxes withheld from your payments, the amount of your payments would be different after your federal withholding election is implemented.
- If some of your funds are invested in the variable-return Passport Funds, the return on those investments would fluctuate from month to month.
- A revision of your retirement allowance may have been implemented, in which case you would receive a revised Benefits Letter.
How did TRS determine the number of units paid to me each month?
When you retired, an actuarial calculation was made to determine the number of units you would be paid as part of your retirement allowance. The calculation was based on several factors, including the number of units you had at retirement, your retirement elections, and life expectancy. (If you chose to receive your TDA funds as an annuity, a similar calculation was made.)
Please keep in mind that the number of units you will be paid will normally remain constant from month to month unless you transfer funds to or from a variable-return Passport Fund.
How can I find out how many units I am being paid each month?
The number of units paid to you monthly is indicated on your Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) Quarterly Statements. If you receive your payments by check, this information is included on your retirement allowance and/or TDA annuity check stubs.
if you are maintaining your TDA account after retirement through TDA Deferral status, your TDA Quarterly Statement shows how many units you have in each variable-return Passport Fund. This information is also available on your monthly online statements.
What should I do if my retirement allowance (or other) check is late, lost, or stolen?
You should log into the secure section of our website and access our Outstanding Checks feature in the Payments section. This feature will allow you to request that TRS reissue unclaimed and outstanding TRS pension payment checks via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).
- Unclaimed checks are uncashed checks 90 days or older.
- Outstanding checks are uncashed checks 10-89 days old
If you have not set up EFT, you will need to do so before TRS can reissue your payments. TRS requires that unclaimed and outstanding pension checks are only reissued via EFT, not by check. Retirement payments are generally reissued via EFT in 5 business days. Checks are only issued if your EFT cannot be verified.
If you have set up EFT since the check was issued, your unclaimed check will automatically be reissued to that EFT account.
For checks other than retirement payments, you will need to file an Affidavit for Missing Check (code BK2). In general, checks other than retirement checks will be reissued 15 business days after receiving the completed form.
If you are unsure if you have outstanding funds due you, you may access the Unclaimed Funds feature in the Resources section. This lists checks issued by TRS that have not yet been cashed after at least 90 days.
If your missing check was cashed, TRS will mail a copy of the cancelled check to you. If you still suspect that a check was stolen, you can file an Affidavit for Forged Check (code BK1).
If I have a check from TRS that I did not cash within the 90-day time period allowed, what can I do?
See What should I do if my retirement allowance check is late, lost, or stolen?. Please note that checks other than retirement checks would generally be reissued 15 business days after receiving the completed form.
How long will it take for my retirement allowance payment to be reissued?
Retirement allowance payments will be reissued by EFT within 5 business days after your EFT setup is finalized.
Can I have my paystubs recreated in order to have a payroll record for this past income tax year?
Yes. You may do so by sending a written request to TRS. However, please be aware that recreating paystubs can be a lengthy process.
How is my retirement allowance taxed?
QPP retirement allowance and TDA annuity payments generally are federally taxable and may be subject to state and local taxes; please check with your tax advisor.
Are federal taxes withheld from my retirement allowance payments?
Unless you elected otherwise, withholding is applied to your retirement allowance payments and any advance payments at the rate for a married person with three dependents (before the 2022 tax year). If no withholding election is made for payments beginning in January 2022 or later, withholding is applied at the rate for a single person with no adjustments.
May I change my withholding elections?
Yes. You may elect a new rate by filing an online election through the secure section of our website or by filing a Withholding Certificate for Periodic Pension or Annuity Payments (W-4P) with TRS.
Please note that, if you have a permanent home address outside of the United States, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations prohibit you from electing to have no federal income tax withheld from your retirement benefits.
Your withholding election would generally take effect approximately two to six weeks after TRS receives your online W-4P filing, or approximately two months after TRS receives your paper form.
How do I report the taxable portion of retirement funds issued to me?
The taxable portion of these funds must be reported on your tax return. Taxable distributions from the Qualified Pension Plan should be reported under "total pensions and annuities." Taxable distributions from the TDA Program should be reported under "total IRA distributions."
Why are there so many deductions from my retirement allowance payment?
Your retirement allowance payment includes deductions for withholding tax, union dues, health insurance, and catastrophic life insurance.
Who should I contact regarding deductions related to health insurance?
All questions pertaining to health insurance should be directed to the New York City Health Benefits Program at 22 Cortlandt Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10007. The phone number is (212) 513-0470.
Who should I contact regarding deductions related to union dues?
You should contact your union directly.
Do I receive a cost-of-living adjustment to my retirement allowance?
Eligible retirees receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of between 1% and 3%, based on half of the Consumer Price Index increase for the year ending March 31. This increase is calculated on the lesser of the retiree's maximum fixed retirement allowance or $18,000.
The following individuals are eligible for a COLA:
- Retirees who are at least age 62 and have been retired for at least five years;
- Retirees who are at least age 55 and have been retired for at least ten years;
- Disability retirees who have been retired for at least five years;
- Recipients of accidental death benefits who have been receiving their benefit for at least five years;
- Designated annuitants who are a surviving spouse of a member who died prior to 1980, and who were entitled to a lump-sum benefit, but elected a lifetime annuity instead; and
- Surviving spouses who are receiving a joint and survivor benefit, whose spouse, if alive, would have received a COLA benefit. (Note: Such individuals are eligible for half the COLA amount their spouse would have received.)
Can I receive a letter stating that I am collecting my retirement allowance from TRS?
Yes. You can request an income-verification letter in the secure section of the TRS website in the Payments section. The letter can be printed or downloaded, and a copy will be posted to your Documents section. You can also elect to have the letter mailed to a third party.
How can I apply for my Social Security benefits?
For information regarding Social Security benefits, please contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.
What is the "retirement allowance verification" process?
Each year, TRS conducts annual "retirement allowance verification" mailings to a small percentage of our retirees as a protection against fraud. The mailings are sent to retirees who are over a certain age, over a certain pension amount, or living outside the U.S.
Retirees who receive these mailings must provide "proof of life" to TRS. Although such requests may seem intrusive, TRS has a fiduciary responsibility to verify that our pension payments are being received by the intended parties—and only the intended parties. If a fraudster steals pension payments from a TRS member, that harms the member, the member’s beneficiaries, and TRS (through increased liabilities).
Members who receive the verification mailing from TRS have different ways to meet the verification requirements, and those who do not respond are sent reminder letters. Members who do not respond will have their retirement allowance payments placed on hold, and they risk future suspension of their payments unless TRS receives the necessary documentation.
TRS understands that this verification process can be inconvenient, but preserving the security of our members' pension payments is our highest priority.