General

    • Contacting TRS

      Where is TRS located?

      TRS is located in lower Manhattan at 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041.

      Our second-floor Walk-In Center is easily accessible through the entrance at the southeast corner of the building, facing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. Visitors will need a valid government-issued photo ID that includes a signature to enter the building.

      When is TRS open?

      TRS is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on official New York City holidays. Appointments are not necessary.

      Should I notify TRS if I change my address?

      Yes. It is essential that TRS have your current address on file. Therefore, if your address changes, you may notify TRS of your new address through the Profile feature in the secure section of our website or file a paper Member's Change of Address Form (code DM13).

      Should I notify TRS if I change my name?

      In-service members who change their name should notify their employer (either the Department of Education or the City University of New York). The employer would then notify TRS. Retirees must send TRS either a completed, notarized Retiree's Change of Name Form (code RP1) or a written notarized notice. The legal document that effects the name change (for example, a divorce decree or a marriage license) must also be submitted.

      Do I need an appointment to speak to a Member Services Representative in person?

      No. You may just stop by our office at 55 Water Street, on the 2nd floor. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 5:00; however, if you want to confer with a Member Services Representative, we suggest that you arrive before 4:30 to provide enough time to discuss your inquiry. Please note that appointments can be scheduled for retirement interviews and submission of retirement applications.

      If I would like to put an inquiry to TRS in writing, where should I send it?

      If you would like to write TRS, you may send your inquiry to TRS' Correspondence Unit, 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041.

      What information should I have available when I contact TRS, or when I submit written correspondence?

      In order for TRS to promptly respond to your inquiry, you should have the following information available when you contact TRS, or include this information when you send us correspondence: your TRS membership number, a phone number at which you can be reached during business hours, copies of correspondence you are questioning, and documentation to support your claim. If you are visiting TRS, you should also bring a photo ID that includes a signature. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, state-issued non-driver's license identification, passport, or school ID; unacceptable forms of identification include a credit card or store card with a photo, gym card, or a library card.

      Will TRS help me complete an application?

      Yes. Member Services Representatives can help you by answering inquiries over the phone or in person. In fact, if you are submitting a retirement application, we recommend that a Member Services Representative review it with you in person first.

      How do I block phone/online access to my personalized TRS account information?

      You may block access to your account information by calling TRS or by filing an Account Information Access Form (code DM11) with TRS. (Please be aware that, by placing this block, you will be unable to obtain your TRS account information by phone or through TRS' website.) You may restore access at any time by filing a new Account Information Access Form. TRS would process your request to block or restore access within seven business days of the receipt of your properly completed form.

      How do I submit a request to TRS under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)?

      The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) provides a means for the public to access copies of certain government records. A FOIL request should clearly and specifically describe the records you are seeking, including titles, dates, file designations, etc., and it should include your contact information. TRS will charge a fee, as set forth in the law, for preparation of copies.

      To submit a FOIL request to TRS, send a letter to TRS, Attn: Records Access Officer, 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041, or email

      RecordsAccessOfficer@trs.nyc.ny.us

      Please note: This email address is specifically for information requests under the FOIL. This email address cannot be used for inquiries on individual member issues (account updates, correspondence, benefit statements, etc.). To contact TRS in writing about such issues, you must instead write to TRS' Correspondence Unit at 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041.

    • Definitions

      What is the ABS?

      A-B-S stands for the Annual Benefits Statement. TRS issues this individualized report each fall to in-service members and members on a leave of absence for up to seven school years. The statement summarizes the members' Total Service Credit and lists their designated beneficiaries. Benefit estimates and benefit projections are also provided to certain retirement-eligible members. This information is reported as of the previous June 30.

      What is my ASAF?

      A-S-A-F stands for Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund. This account contains the monthly supplemental contribution the Department of Education provides to certain Tier III, IV, and VI members who reach the maximum of their salary schedule. This amount is $550 per year for supervisors and administrators, and $400 per year for other eligible members. This contribution is not provided to adjuncts, college employees, Charter School employees, or paraprofessionals.

      What is my ASF?

      A-S-F stands for your Annuity Savings Fund. This account contains a Tier I or II member's Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) contributions, and reflects investment results and/or interest and any withdrawals.

      What is EAR?

      E-A-R stands for Earnings After Retirement. This is a general term for the rules governing the amount that certain TRS service retirees are permitted to earn while they are also receiving retirement allowances. These earnings restrictions impact individuals under the age of 65 who work in public employment in New York State or any of its political subdivisions, such as New York City.

      What is EFT?

      E-F-T stands for Electronic Fund Transfer. This service enables TRS retirees to have their monthly benefit payments (and other distributions) electronically forwarded to their checking or savings account. In-service members who are paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit may choose EFT for their QPP and TDA loans and TDA direct withdrawals. EFT allows members' accounts to be credited on the payment date and safeguards against delayed, lost, or stolen checks.

      What is my FAS?

      Final Average Salary, or FAS, is a calculation used to compute the retirement allowances of TRS members. The method for calculating FAS is based on your tier status; to learn how your FAS is calculated, please see the FAQ for your tier.

      What is ITHP?

      I-T-H-P stands for Increased-Take-Home Pay. The City of New York contributes 2.5% of Tier I and II members' gross salary toward their retirement allowance. This reduces the contributions that the members would have to make to the QPP and thereby increases their take-home pay. Members have the choice of waiving their ITHP, which would reduce their take-home pay, but provide them with a higher annuity benefit upon retirement. In any case, the City will make the same contribution to their ITHP account.

      What is my MCAF?

      M-C-A-F stands for Member Contributions Accumulation Fund. This account contains a Tier III, IV, or VI member's Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) contributions with interest, and includes any contributions that the member paid to purchase credit for optional service.

      What is the QAS?

      Q-A-S stands for the Quarterly Account Statement. TRS issues this report approximately two months after the end of each quarter of the calendar year to in-service members and retirees with TDA Deferral status. The statement summarizes a member's account balances, contributions, investment elections, loan status, and account activity for the reporting period. Members with Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) and Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program accounts receive one statement that includes information about both accounts.

      What is the QPP?

      Q-P-P stands for the Qualified Pension Plan. This defined-benefit plan, administered under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, enables TRS members to receive a monthly retirement allowance upon meeting certain eligibility requirements.

      What is an RMD?

      R-M-D stands for a Required Minimum Distribution. This is the amount that certain participants in TRS' TDA Program must receive from their TDA funds in a given year to meet the distribution regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. RMDs apply only to TDA participants who have separated from service, are at least age 70½, and have TDA Deferral status. It is important to note that the IRS imposes a 50% excise tax on any amounts that are required to be distributed for a given year, but are not.

      What is an SPD?

      S-P-D stands for a Summary Plan Description. TRS provides this booklet, containing important information about TRS membership and benefits, to each member upon enrollment. (The Tier I and II SPD is not currently available.)

      What is the TDA?

      T-D-A stands for the Tax-Deferred Annuity Program. This defined-contribution program, established under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, provides TRS members with the opportunity to save additional funds for retirement on a tax-deferred basis. Contributions and the investment return they earn can grow quickly because taxes are deferred until the member receives the funds. For more information, you may refer to TRS' TDA Program Summary booklet.

    • Enrollment

      What documentation can I use as proof of my date of birth?

      The following items are considered acceptable date-of-birth documentation: birth certificate, passport, or naturalization document.

      If none of the above is available, you can submit two of the following: driver's license, certificate of military record, Confidential Social Security Benefit Information Form SSA2458, or other government-issued identification.

      Please note that any date-of-birth documentation in a language other than English must be accompanied by a translation. Puerto Rico birth certificates are valid only if issued July 1, 2010 or later. Photocopies of all documents are acceptable.

      You may upload your date-of-birth documentation in the secure area of our website or mail it to TRS.

      Please submit your documentation as early in your membership as possible. TRS cannot process any withdrawal-related requests (e.g., loans) or calculate your retirement benefits if we do not have proof of your date of birth.

      Can regularly appointed teachers in New York City public schools join TRS?

      Yes. If you are appointed as a teacher or pedagogue in a public school maintained by the New York City Department of Education, you would automatically become a TRS member as of your appointment date.

      Can full-time faculty or professors with the City University of New York join TRS?

      Yes. Full-time instructional staff of CUNY must join either TRS or the Optional Retirement Program offered by TIAA. If you do not join the Optional Retirement Program within 30 days of your appointment to the CUNY position, you would automatically become a TRS member. Your TRS membership would be effective as of your appointment date.

      Can paraprofessionals in New York City public schools join TRS?

      Yes. TRS membership is optional. You may enroll at any time by accessing the "Enroll Now" link on our homepage. Your membership would begin on the day that TRS receives your enrollment request. Once you enroll, you must maintain your membership for as long as you are in a TRS-eligible position.

      Can adjuncts with the City University of New York join TRS?

      Yes. TRS membership is optional. You may enroll at any time by accessing the "Enroll Now" link on our homepage. Your membership would begin on the day that TRS receives your enrollment request. Once you enroll, you must maintain your membership for as long as you are in a TRS-eligible position.

      Can New York City Charter School employees join TRS?

      Yes, if their Charter School has selected pension coverage from TRS. Appointed teachers and pedagogues in participating Charter Schools are required to become TRS members, and paraprofessionals may choose to join TRS. Check with your school administrator to learn if your Charter School provides TRS coverage for employees.

      Can substitute teachers and per diem teachers in New York City public schools join TRS?

      No. But, depending on your title, you may be eligible for membership in the Board of Education Retirement System or the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.

      If you are a substitute teacher employed by the City University of New York (CUNY), you are eligible to join TRS.

      What are the benefits of TRS membership?

      As a TRS member, once you have completed the minimum requirements, you will be entitled to receive a retirement allowance from the Qualified Pension Plan. You may also enroll in the Tax-Deferred Annuity Program, which enables you to save money from your salary on a tax-deferred basis; at retirement, these savings could fund a separate annuity. As a TRS member, you may also be eligible to take out loans from the Qualified Pension Plan and the Tax-Deferred Annuity Program. In addition, if you die while you are an in-service member, your beneficiary may be eligible to receive a death benefit.

      How do I enroll in TRS?

      If your TRS membership is mandatory, you will be automatically enrolled in TRS, and will not need to submit an enrollment request. (However, you must provide other documentation; see What documentation must I provide to TRS as a new member?)

      If your TRS membership is optional, you may enroll by accessing the "Enroll Now" link on our homepage.

      For more information about enrolling in TRS, please refer to the Enrolling in TRS brochure.

      What documentation must I provide to TRS as a new member?

      Members must provide the following to TRS:

      Documentation Method
      Beneficiary designations under the QPP
      Information about membership in a public retirement system within New York State or in TIAA (if applicable)
      Information about previous work for a public employer within New York State (if applicable)
      Information about military service (if applicable)
      Proof of your date of birth (see below for more details)
      • Secure section of our website; or
      • Paper documentation

      When will I be assigned a membership number?

      You will be assigned a membership number once we have completed processing your enrollment. This number will appear on your paystubs or EFT statements.

      Why is the pension number box on my pay stub blank?

      If your TRS membership is mandatory, the box may be blank because TRS has not completed processing your enrollment. If your TRS membership is optional, the box may be blank because you have not enrolled in TRS, or TRS has not completed your enrollment.

      I seem to have two different TRS numbers. Which one should I use?

      All in-service members have a membership number that begins with an introductory code "00T" and is followed by six numbers. For TRS' filing purposes, the first of those six numbers may vary on different correspondence. For example, a "0" and a "5" are considered interchangeable, as are a "1" and a "6", or a "2" and a "7." You may use either of these numbers when you correspond with TRS. Please also note that the introductory code on TDA correspondence may begin with an "AOT."

      How do I enroll in the TDA Program?

      You may enroll in the TDA Program at any time by accessing our website or filing a TDA Enrollment Form (code TD1). When you enroll in the TDA Program, you should also designate your beneficiaries under the TDA Program by accessing our website or filing a Designation of TDA Beneficiary Form (code EN8).

    • Membership Status

      Who is eligible for Tier I status?

      In general, you would qualify for Tier I status if you last joined TRS before July 1, 1973. You may also qualify in the following situations: if you switched from Tier II to Tier I during the period that was available for tier changes, or if you transferred your Tier I membership from another eligible retirement system to TRS.

      In addition, you can apply for reinstatement to your previous membership and tier status if you are in active membership status and previously lost your Tier I membership rights in TRS or another New York City or New York State public retirement system.

      To apply for reinstatement, file a Membership/Tier Reinstatement Request Form (code SD42) with TRS. To effect the reinstatement, you must pay back the amount of contributions refunded when your membership ended, plus 5% interest compounded annually from the date of the refund to the date of repayment.

      Who is eligible for Tier II status?

      In general, you would qualify for Tier II status if you last joined TRS after June 30, 1973 and before July 27, 1976. You may also qualify in the following situations: if you switched from Tier III or Tier IV to Tier II during the period that was available for tier changes, or if you transferred your Tier II membership from another eligible retirement system to TRS.

      In addition, you can apply for reinstatement to your previous membership and tier status if you are in active membership status and previously lost your Tier II membership rights in TRS or another New York City or New York State public retirement system.

      To apply for reinstatement, file a Membership/Tier Reinstatement Request Form (code SD42) with TRS. To effect the reinstatement, you must pay back the amount of contributions refunded when your membership ended, plus 5% interest compounded annually from the date of the refund to the date of repayment.

      Who is eligible for Tier III status?

      In general, you would qualify for Tier III status if you last joined TRS after July 26, 1976 and before September 1, 1983. You may also qualify if you transferred your Tier III membership from another eligible retirement system to TRS.

      In addition, you can apply for reinstatement to your previous membership and tier status if you are in active membership status and previously lost your Tier III membership rights in TRS or another New York City or New York State public retirement system.

      To apply for reinstatement, file a Membership/Tier Reinstatement Request Form (code SD42) with TRS. To effect the reinstatement, you must pay back the amount of contributions refunded when your membership ended, plus 5% interest compounded annually from the date of the refund to the date of repayment.

      Who is eligible for Tier IV status?

      In general, you qualify for Tier IV status if you last joined TRS after August 31, 1983, but before April 1, 2012.

      Who is eligible for Tier VI status?

      In general, you qualify for Tier VI status if you last joined TRS after March 31, 2012.

      What are the differences between Tier IV and Tier VI?

      Tier/Plan Tier IV/Chapter 504 Tier IV/Basic Tier VI
      Eligible members DOE/Charter School employees enrolling in March 2012 CUNY employees enrolling in March 2012 All members joining TRS after 3/31/12
      Required contributions to the Qualified Pension Plan 4.85% of salary until you attain 27 years of service credit. Then, 1.85% for the remainder of your service 3% of salary until you attain 10 years of service 3% of salary until 4/1/2013. Then, contribution rate for remainder of service depends on your salary:
      $45,000 or less: 3%
      More than $45,000 to $55,000: 3.5%
      More than $55,000 to $75,000: 4.5%
      More than $75,000 to $100,000: 5.75%
      More than $100,000: 6%
      Vesting 10 years of service credit 5 years of service credit 10 years of service credit
      Normal retirement age 55 (after 27 years of service credit) 62, with benefit reductions for earlier retirement 63, with benefit reductions for earlier retirement
      Basis for Final Average Salary (FAS) Highest average of wages earned during any continuous period of employment for which you were credited with 3 years of service (subject to certain exclusions). Wages earned during any year used in a FAS calculation cannot exceed the average of the previous 2 years' wages by more than 10% Highest average of wages earned during any continuous period of employment for which you were credited with 3 years of service (subject to certain exclusions). Wages earned during any year used in a FAS calculation cannot exceed the average of the previous 2 years' wages by more than 10% Highest average of wages earned during any continuous period of employment for which you were credited with 5 years of service (subject to certain exclusions). Wages earned during any year used in a FAS calculation cannot exceed the average of the previous 4 years' wages by more than 10%
      Pension calculation (at normal retirement age) 20 years of service: 1 2/3% FAS per year
      20-29 years of service: 2% FAS per year (40%-58%)
      30+ years of service: 60% FAS (for first 30 years) + 1½% FAS per year for each year above 30
      20 years of service: 1 2/3% FAS per year
      20-29 years of service: 2% FAS per year (40%-58%)
      30+ years of service: 60% FAS (for first 30 years) + 1½% FAS per year for each year above 30
      20 years of service: 1 2/3% FAS per year
      20+ years of service: 35% FAS (for first 20 years) + 2% FAS per year for each year above 20

      Note: The information about Tier IV benefits reflects the provisions available to new members who enrolled during March 2012. The information about Tier VI provisions is a summary based on preliminary interpretations of the applicable law and, as such, may be subject to change. In all cases, the provisions of the governing laws, rules, and regulations will prevail.

      How did the Pension Reform Law (Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2009) affect TRS members?

      Chapter 504 had broad effects on New York State public retirement systems. Individuals who became TRS members after December 10, 2009, but before April 1, 2012, are affected as follows:

      • Members who are represented by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) become vested after they have ten years of service credit.
      • Members who participate in the Age 55 Retirement Program ("55/27" participants) will make pension contributions of 4.85% of gross pensionable compensation until they have 27 years of service credit, and contributions of 1.85% of gross pensionable compensation after reaching 27 years of service credit

      In addition, Chapter 504 affected certain members regardless of their membership date: For all participants in the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program who are serving in (or resigned/retired from) UFT-covered titles, the annual interest rate paid by the Fixed Return Fund is 7% as of December 11, 2009.

      Note: Chapter 504 also established a new tier—Tier V—for New York State public retirement systems and the Optional Retirement Program (available to CUNY employees). This change did not apply to TRS.

    • Publications

      How may I learn about the impact of new legislation on my TRS membership?

      Twice a year, TRS sends a new issue of our newsletter titled In-Service News to our in-service members at their homes. TRS also sends a new issue of our Benefits Report newsletter to our retirees at their homes, generally twice a year. Each newsletter issue is designed to keep you up-to-date on topics that affect your TRS membership. In addition to explaining how your benefits may be impacted by new legislation, these newsletters also update you on the performance of TRS' investment programs, highlight the advantages of using various TRS services, notify you of newly available TRS publications, and remind you of important upcoming deadlines.

      How may I access a copy of TRS' Annual Report?

      TRS sends one copy of our Annual Report to each school; these copies may be referenced by TRS members. Our Annual Report contains comprehensive accounting statements and schedules for the previous fiscal year.

      Will I still receive information about TRS after I retire?

      Yes. In general, twice a year, you will receive a Benefits Report newsletter prepared especially for TRS retirees. If you are a retiree with TDA Deferral status, you will receive a quarterly statement of your TDA account balances. In addition, you may always obtain TRS publications such as the annual Investment Portfolios booklet by accessing the Publications section.

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