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In-Service Members

Beneficiary Designations

How may I choose or change a beneficiary?

You may access the Beneficiaries feature in the secure section of our website to choose or change a beneficiary. Please note that you may not designate a trust as your beneficiary online. Alternatively, you may file a Designation of QPP Beneficiary Form (code EN6) and, if you choose to join TRS' Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program, a Designation of TDA Beneficiary Form (code EN8). If you are a new member, you will receive these beneficiary-designation forms and an enrollment application in your Welcome Kit.

Are married members required to designate their spouse as their beneficiary?

No. They may designate someone else if they choose.

What should I do if I want to leave my death benefit to my estate or to a trust?

You may access the Beneficiaries feature in the secure section of our website to designate your estate as a beneficiary or, simply write "estate" in the name section of your beneficiary-designation form. If you would like to designate a trust, you must indicate this on the beneficiary-designation form, attach a copy of the will or trust, and file TRS' Verification of Trust Instrument Legality form (code EN4) with your beneficiary designations. Please note that you may not designate a trust as your beneficiary online.

Why do I need to provide TRS with my beneficiary's Social Security number?

Having your beneficiary's Social Security number^ on file with TRS prevents unnecessary delay and complications at the time death benefits become payable.

TRS cannot distribute death benefits from a member's account until we have identified and contacted all designated beneficiaries on file. And, while other demographic information may be incomplete in our records or become outdated over time, the Social Security number is the most reliable way of confirming the identity of your beneficiaries and initiating contact with them.

This is why TRS requires members who make beneficiary designations on our website to enter each beneficiary's Social Security number. If you do not enter the number, you won't be able to designate beneficiaries online and will have to file a paper form instead.

TRS will accept paper beneficiary designation forms that do not include the beneficiary's Social Security number. However, if you file such forms, we will continue to alert you about the missing information on account statements and other correspondence where we list your beneficiaries.

^If your beneficiary does not have a Social Security number, then an alternative number such as the Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) may be used instead. If your beneficiary is a charity or organization, the Employer Identification Number (EIN) may be used.

Death Benefits

What benefits are payable upon the death of an in-service Tier I member?

When an in-service Tier I member dies before becoming eligible for retirement under the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP), the death benefit would equal the member's Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) balance, Increased-Take-Home-Pay (ITHP) balance, and an amount based on his/her salary and years of Total Service Credit.

The following table shows how the member's Total Service Credit affects the death benefit payable.

Years of Service Credit Amount of Death Benefit
Less than 10 One-half the member's salary in the year immediately before the date of the member's death
At least 10 but less than 20 The member's salary in the year immediately before the date of the member's death
20 or more Two times the member's salary in the year immediately before the date of the member's death

Note: The member's salary is the average annual salary in the year immediately before the date of death. It is generally not affected by any approved leaves of absence with or without pay.

If the member was eligible for a service retirement at the time of death, or died within the first 30 days after retiring, the death benefit would be the greater of the amount indicated in the first paragraph above or a benefit based on the reserves that would have been payable under Option I Modified had the member retired on the day before he or she died. (Option I Modified is a retirement payment option that provides a lump-sum benefit to the designated beneficiary based on the member's available pension reserves.)

What QPP benefits are payable upon the death of an in-service Tier II, III, IV, or VI member?

If a Tier II, III, IV, or VI member dies while in service and is credited with at least one year of service since last joining TRS, the member's designated beneficiary can apply to receive ordinary death benefits under the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP). The death benefit would equal the balance in the member's Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) (for Tier II members) or Member Contributions Accumulation Fund (MCAF) and Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) (for Tier III, IV, and VI members), plus the amount of either Death Benefit #1 or Death Benefit #2.

As of October 1, 2000, beneficiaries of Tier II, III, and IV members receive the greater of either Death Benefit #1 or Death Benefit #2, even if the member had elected Death Benefit #1 coverage. Members who joined TRS after January 1, 2001 (including Tier VI members) are automatically enrolled in Death Benefit #2.

What is Death Benefit #1?

Under Death Benefit #1, the benefit would equal 1/12 of the member's last 12 months' regularly earned salary multiplied by each full year of Total Service Credit—to a maximum of three times the member's annual salary; this maximum would apply to members who have 36 or more years of Total Service Credit. (This description assumes that the member was in active service and died with at least one year of Total Service Credit since last joining TRS.)

As of October 1, 2000, beneficiaries of Tier II, III, and IV members receive the greater of either Death Benefit #1 or Death Benefit #2, even if the member had elected Death Benefit #1 coverage. Members who joined TRS after January 1, 2001 (including Tier VI members) are automatically enrolled in Death Benefit #2.

What is Death Benefit #2?

Under Death Benefit #2, the benefit would equal one year's salary upon the completion of one year of service, two years' salary upon the completion of two years of service, and three years' salary upon the completion of three or more years of service. If the member remained in service to age 61, the in-service death benefit would be reduced by 5% for each succeeding year until age 70, when the benefit would equal 50% of the applicable amount. (This description assumes that the member was in active service and died with at least one year of Total Service Credit since last joining TRS.)

As of October 1, 2000, beneficiaries of Tier II, III, and IV members receive the greater of either Death Benefit #1 or Death Benefit #2, even if the member had elected Death Benefit #1 coverage. Members who joined TRS after January 1, 2001 (including Tier VI members) are automatically enrolled in Death Benefit #2.

The following table shows the age-reduction factors that affect the benefit payable under Death Benefit #2.

Age at Date of Death Percentage of Benefit Payable After Reduction
60 or under 100%
61 95%
62 90%
63 85%
64 80%
65 75%
66 70%
67 65%
68 60%
69 55%
70 50%

Who receives the death benefit if a divorced member of TRS dies?

TRS generally makes death benefit payments in accordance with the member's most recent beneficiary designations. However, if the designated beneficiary is a former spouse through divorce, annulment, or judicial separation, the designation may be considered revoked. In accordance with Chapter 173 of the Laws of 2008, a former spouse is treated as having predeceased the member. Benefits that would have been payable to the former spouse would instead be payable to the member's estate or another beneficiary on file (if applicable).

However, there are some instances where the designation of a former spouse would not be revoked. These include irrevocable designations made by the member (such as those made under a "continuing payment" option for the retirement allowance) and requirements specified in an instrument such as a domestic relations order.

In order to revoke the designation of a former spouse, TRS must receive written notice of the divorce, annulment, or judicial separation before issuing the benefit in question.

Are taxes withheld from a death benefit?

The IRS requires that TRS withhold 20% of the taxable portion of any lump-sum death benefit paid to a surviving spouse, unless the spouse instructs TRS to directly roll over the amount into an IRA or a Section 401 Plan. In addition, the IRS requires that TRS withhold 10% of any death benefit paid to a non-spouse beneficiary, unless that beneficiary elects to have a percentage greater than 10% withheld. Any withheld amount will be sent to the IRS as credit toward the beneficiary's federal taxes for the year of distribution.

For a list of forms on taxes and death benefit payments, please see the Withdrawals/Distribution category in the Forms–Beneficiaries section.

Can a beneficiary roll over a death benefit to another account?

Spouses of deceased members are permitted to roll over the taxable portion of a Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) and/or Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program death benefit to an eligible Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) or other successor program. Non-spouse beneficiaries may roll over the taxable portion of a QPP and/or TDA death benefit to an Inherited IRA or other successor program.

Under Chapter 677 of the Laws of 2003, a beneficiary of a deceased participant in TRS' TDA Program may defer distribution of TDA funds by establishing a TDA account with TRS.

For a list of forms on rolling over a death benefit, please see the Withdrawals/Distribution category in the Forms–Beneficiaries section.

For more information, please see the Death Benefits category in the FAQs–Beneficiaries section.

If a member dies in active service, may the beneficiary annuitize the death benefit?

Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) beneficiaries may annuitize a QPP benefit only if the deceased was a Tier I or Tier II member and the QPP benefit is at least $10,000. Eligible beneficiaries of Tier I members must file to annuitize their death benefit by October 31 of the year following the year of the member's death; beneficiaries of Tier II members must file to annuitize their death benefit within 90 days from the date of the member's death.

All Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program beneficiaries may annuitize a TDA benefit of $10,000 or more. In all cases, before an annuity can be calculated for a beneficiary, (s)he must submit a photocopy of his/her birth certificate to TRS.

There are two ways of annuitizing a death benefit:

Option A, in which the amount would be paid in monthly installments during the beneficiary's lifetime, with all payments ceasing upon his/her death.

Option B, in which the amount of the annuity is slightly reduced, so that any remaining reserves after the beneficiary's death would be payable to a designated beneficiary or estate. Please note that any benefits due the member's estate cannot be annuitized.

How is interest calculated on death benefit payments?

Where interest applies, the interest rate used for death benefit payments is the lesser of the following: a) the actual net rate of return on TRS' Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) assets for a corresponding period, based on reported quarterly investment returns; or b) the scheduled rate of 5% simple interest for the first year following the member's death, 4% for the second year, 3% for the third year, 2% for the fourth year, 1% for the fifth year, and no interest for the sixth year following the member's death and thereafter. If the applicable net rate of investment return on TRS' QPP assets is zero or negative, no interest would be applied to the death benefit payment; however, the benefit itself would not be reduced.

Please note that TRS determines the interest amount only after the benefit is claimed; we cannot determine the interest amount in advance because actual investment returns are a factor in the calculation.

When does interest on death benefit payments begin?

That depends on what type of benefit you are receiving:

For a lump-sum death benefit—Interest begins as of the 31st day after the date of death and continues until the earliest of the following dates: a) the date the benefit payment is issued; or b) five years after the date of death; or c) six months after the date that TRS sends claim forms and/or notification of this policy by letter to the beneficiaries.

For death benefit payments under a continuing payment option—The benefit payable to the beneficiary is monthly payments for life equaling a percentage of the member's retirement allowance. In this case, interest begins from the date of death of the member and continues until the earlier of the following dates: a) one calendar month prior to the date the initial payment is paid; or b) six months after the date that TRS sends claim forms and/or initial notification of this policy by letter to the beneficiary.

For more information, please see the FAQ above.

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."

Investment Options

What are TRS' Passport Funds?

The Passport Funds are TRS' lineup of investment choices. They are available to all in-service members and retirees under the TDA Program, and Tier I and II in-service members and retirees under the QPP. The Passport Funds provide six investment offerings:

 
  • Fixed Return Fund
  • Diversified Equity Fund
  • Bond Fund^
  • International Equity Fund
  • Inflation Protection Fund
  • Socially Responsive Equity Fund

The Fixed Return Fund provides participants with a fixed rate of return, in accordance with applicable laws. The returns on the other five funds fluctuate monthly, so these are known as the "variable-return" Passport Funds.

^Through December 2011, the Bond Fund was known as the Stable-Value Fund.

See the following FAQs for brief descriptions of the Passport Funds. For more comprehensive information, read TRS' Fund Profiles .

What is the Fixed Return Fund?

The Fixed Return Fund offers a guaranteed rate of return set by the New York State Legislature in accordance with applicable laws. The current annual rate is 7% for members who are serving in (or resigned/retired from) titles represented by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and 8.25% for other members.

How does the Pension Fund differ from the Fixed Return Fund?

The funds in the Fixed Return Fund are a subset of the Pension Fund. The Pension Fund also includes contributions that Tier III, IV, and VI members make toward their QPP accounts.

What is the Diversified Equity Fund?

The Diversified Equity Fund invests primarily in the stocks of U.S. companies, and also invests a portion of its assets in stocks of non-U.S. companies and other types of investments. The objective is to achieve a rate of return comparable to the return of the broad equity market.

What is the Bond Fund?

The Bond Fund invests primarily in a portfolio or portfolios of high-quality bonds that provide for participant transactions at market value. The objective is primarily to seek current income from a diversified portfolio of high-quality bonds. The Bond Fund began as of January 1, 2012; prior to this date, the Stable-Value Fund was available to members.

What is the Stable-Value Fund?

The Stable-Value Fund is formerly one of the Passport Funds (TRS' investment choices); this fund became the Bond Fund as of January 1, 2012.

What is the International Equity Fund?

The International Equity Fund invests primarily in the stocks of non-U.S. companies located in developed markets, traded on a variety of stock exchanges, and denominated in a variety of currencies around the world. The objectives are to provide long-term capital growth and to achieve a rate of return comparable to the return of the non-U.S. equity markets over a full market cycle.

What is the Inflation Protection Fund?

The Inflation Protection Fund seeks exposure to multiple asset classes and markets, which may include the following: floating debt rate, commodities, inflation-protected debt (including U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities) and real estate debt and equity securities. The objective is to provide, over a full market cycle, a real rate of return that exceeds inflation.

What is the Socially Responsive Equity Fund?

The Socially Responsive Equity Fund invests in stocks of large and mid-cap U.S. and non-U.S. companies that meet certain financial and social criteria. It seeks companies that show leadership in areas such as environmental concerns, diversity in the workforce, progressive employment, and workplace practices. The fund attempts to avoid companies that derive substantial revenue from alcohol, tobacco, nuclear power, or weapons. The objectives are to achieve, over a full market cycle, positive long-term capital growth and to earn a rate of return comparable to the return of the broader equity market while reflecting social priorities.

How are the monthly unit values of the variable-return Passport Funds determined?

For each of the variable-return Passport Funds, TRS takes the following steps to calculate the monthly unit value:

 
  • Multiplies the preceding month's unit value by the monthly net change in the value of the fund's portfolio.
  • Discounts the amount by .3274% to offset the 4% annual increase in the number of units.

What is the unit value for the Fixed Return Fund?

The Fixed Return Fund is unlike the other Passport Funds because it offers a guaranteed rate of return set by New York State Legislature in accordance with applicable laws. Since the Fixed Return Fund's return is not subject to market fluctuation, the Fund has no monthly unit values.

How do unit values affect my account balance?

The unit values reflect how much a unit in each Passport Fund is worth in a specific month; these values fluctuate from month to month. Therefore, your fund account balance(s) would also vary each month. If unit values go up, your units would be worth more, and your account would generally increase. If unit values go down, your units would be worth less, and your account would generally decrease.

Here's a simplified example: If you invest $100 in March and the unit value is $25, you have purchased 4 units. If the unit value increases to $26 in April, those 4 units would now be worth $104. Keep in mind that additional contributions, loans, and other account activity would also affect the number of units and your account balances. In addition, TRS increases the number of units slightly each month.

What determines the number of units that a member has?

In-service members may elect to invest contributions in the Passport Funds: all members may invest their TDA contributions; Tier I and Tier II members may invest their pension contributions.

For members who invest their contributions in a variable-return Passport Fund, the contributions will purchase a certain number of units, based on the unit value in effect at that time for the Funds. Similarly, when a member reallocates investments out of one of the Funds, units are "sold" or "redeemed" based on the unit value in effect at that time. After transactions are applied to the previous month's total, TRS increases the number of units by .3274% (or 4% annually).

How can I find out the current unit values?

New unit values are usually announced by the third week of each month. A news bulletin on our website announces when the new unit values are available, and the current unit values are always available from the home page of our site.

Current unit values are also available on our phone system. After calling 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS and providing some personal information to verify your identity, press option 1.

Members who are interested in past unit values can access this information in the Investments section of our website.

How may I learn more about the performance of TRS' investments?

TRS includes semi-annual investment updates in our In-Service News and Benefits Report newsletters, analyzing the performance of our investment programs; these publications regularly contain additional articles helping you understand how TRS' investments work for you. Each year, TRS also publishes an Investment Portfolio booklet, which lists every asset that TRS held in its investment programs as of that June 30th.

Legal

What is a Power of Attorney (PoA)?

A Power of Attorney (PoA) is a legal instrument that allows one or more individuals (referred to as agents or attorneys-in-fact) to act on behalf of another person (referred to as the principal). Agents can be granted the right to handle a broad range of personal, financial, legal, and other business affairs—including retirement benefits.

Please note the following:

  • By using a PoA, you are able to decide in advance whom you want to act for you in situations in which you are unable to make decisions for yourself. However, you do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.
  • A durable PoA allows the agent to act for you even after you are legally incapacitated (i.e., when you lack sufficient understanding to make rational decisions or engage in responsible actions due to mental or physical disability or illness). A durable PoA may be used immediately and is effective until revoked by you, or until your death.
  • If you don't have a durable PoA in place and you become incapacitated, your affairs may need to be managed by a court-appointed guardian under a process that can be complex and expensive.
  • Once you appoint an agent under a PoA, that person may act on your behalf without telling you. When choosing an agent, you should select someone you trust who will act in your best interest.

TRS strongly recommends that you consult an attorney before executing a PoA.

How can I execute a Power of Attorney (PoA) granting an agent the authority to make decisions on my behalf regarding my TRS benefits?

If you are a TRS member wishing to execute a PoA granting another person(s) the authority to make decisions regarding your current and future TRS retirement benefits, you may either:

Complete and submit a TRS Special Durable Power of Attorney (code BK75), which is available on our website or from our Member Services Center at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS. This non-statutory form is for use by TRS members and is specifically limited to TRS retirement benefit transactions and does not authorize an agent to act in a transaction that is not related to TRS. Please note that TRS makes this form available merely as a convenience and assumes no responsibility with regard to your use of it.

If you execute a TRS Special Durable Power of Attorney form without placing any limitations in the form's Section (g): MODIFICATIONS, you are authorizing the agent to conduct ANY transaction that you would be authorized to do (discuss retirement benefits, request access to personal information, change depository account information, etc.) with these two exceptions: 1) The agent may not name himself or herself the beneficiary of your retirement benefits, or 2) designate or change your current beneficiary.

If you want a person to be able to name himself/herself as the beneficiary, or designate or change your current beneficiary as the holder of your PoA, you must specifically include this information in Section (g): MODIFICATIONS of the TRS Special Durable Power of Attorney form.

OR

Complete and submit a statutory short form PoA provided under the New York General Obligations Law. In order for an agent to have the power to make gifts and other transfers, including the authority to designate or change beneficiaries on retirement benefit plans, both a statutory short form PoA and a statutory gifts rider must be executed simultaneously and submitted to TRS. You may instead file a valid power-of-attorney document that was executed in another state, which grants your attorney-in-fact the ability to change your beneficiary designations in accordance with that state's applicable law.

TRS strongly urges you to consult with an attorney before you execute a PoA to address any specific legal questions concerning this information. In all cases, the specific provisions of the governing laws, rules, and regulations will prevail.

Can my Power of Attorney (PoA) agent change my beneficiary designations?

If you execute a TRS Special Durable Power of Attorney (code BK75) form without modifying the form's default grant of authority to agents, your agent would not be able to change your current beneficiary designations. However, you can specifically provide on this form that your agent is able designate or change your current beneficiary designations, or to name himself/herself as the beneficiary.

If you execute a statutory short-form PoA, your agent may not change your beneficiary designations or designate himself/herself as the beneficiary unless the form contains a paragraph granting gift-giving authority you initialed AND the PoA is accompanied by a valid statutory gifts rider, which was created simultaneously with the PoA. The rider must be executed pursuant to the requirements of General Obligations Law Section 5-1514, which includes it being acknowledged and witnessed by two witnesses.

A short-form PoA, properly executed in accordance with the law in effect prior to September 1, 2009, remains valid and will be honored by TRS.

How can I revoke my Power of Attorney (PoA)?

You may revoke your PoA at any time by sending us a signed, notarized statement.

Although a durable PoA is revocable before someone becomes incapacitated, if TRS is not notified when a PoA is revoked, TRS generally will be entitled to rely on its good-faith belief as to the PoA's continued validity.

If I have Power of Attorney (PoA) for a retiree, how may I obtain a copy of the retiree's 1099 Form?

If TRS has a copy of your PoA on file, you may submit a written request to TRS for a copy of the retiree's 1099 Form. You may also submit a written, notarized authorization from the retiree if you wish to have this information released to you.

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.

What is the Goodman Settlement?

On March 17, 2014, a settlement between the City of New York and the United States Attorney's Office in the case of Goodman, et al. v. City of New York, et al. ("Goodman") became effective. The Goodman Settlement impacts the pension calculations of certain members and pensioners who served in the military after September 11, 2001.

Loans

What are the eligibility requirements for taking a QPP loan?

You may be eligible for a QPP loan under the following conditions: a) if you are either an in-service member or on a leave of absence, and b) if you are not in default on an existing QPP loan. In addition, if you are a Tier I or II member, you must have at least three years of TRS membership service; if you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you must have at least one year of TRS credited service. You may learn whether you are currently eligible to take a loan by logging in to the secure section of our website.

What are the eligibility requirements for taking a TDA loan?

You may be eligible for a TDA loan under the following conditions: a) if you have participated in the TDA Program for at least one year; b) if you are an in-service member, or you are on a leave of absence, or you have TDA Deferral status; and c) if you are not in default on an existing TDA loan. You may learn whether you are currently eligible to take a loan by logging in to the secure section of our website.

What is the minimum loan amount that I may borrow?

In general, the minimum QPP loan available is $250; however, for Tier III, IV, and VI members who do not have an outstanding QPP loan, the minimum QPP loan available is $1,000. The minimum TDA loan available is $1,000 for all members, except for those with an outstanding TDA loan balance; those members may request a minimum amount of $250 as long as the amount they request plus their current outstanding TDA loan balance totals at least $1,000.

What is the maximum loan amount that I may borrow?

For both QPP and TDA loans, the maximum loan amount available to you is based on factors such as your account balance, your service credit, your current outstanding loan balance, and your highest loan balance during the previous 12 months. You may learn the maximum loan amount that you may borrow by logging in to the secure section of our website. Members may also write to TRS to obtain this information at any time; if you do so, please include your membership number in your correspondence.

Why is my maximum available TDA loan amount the same as my maximum available QPP loan amount?

Similar rules restrict the maximum available loan amounts under the QPP and TDA loan programs. Please note that your maximum under one loan program would be reduced if you took a loan under the other loan program.

Why is my maximum available loan amount less than I expected?

Your maximum loan amount may be less than you expected because the maximum amount you may borrow is restricted by certain conditions. These conditions are explained in the QPP Loans and TDA Loans brochures.

Can I change the loan amount that I request on my application?

Yes. However, you must submit a notarized request to do so by noon on the Friday of the week in which you filed your application.

What interest rate charges and service charges apply to a loan?

For Tier I and II members, the current interest rate on a QPP loan is 6%; for Tier III, IV, and VI members, it is 7%.

For all tiers, the interest rate on a TDA loan is equal to the annual rate of return that you would receive on TDA investments in the Fixed Return Fund. Therefore, for members serving in (or retired/resigned from) a UFT-covered title, the interest rate on TDA loans would be 7%; for other members, the interest rate would be 8.25%.

A $30 service charge is added to all TDA loans, as well as to QPP loans issued to Tier III, IV, and VI members.

Is insurance provided on a loan?

Yes. For all TDA loans and for QPP loans issued to Tier III, IV, and VI members, full insurance coverage begins 30 days after a loan is issued; insurance premiums are included in regular loan payment amounts. For QPP loans issued to Tier I and II members, partial insurance coverage begins 30 days after a loan is issued; this coverage gradually increases until 90 days after the loan is issued, when coverage reaches 100% of the loan balance, up to a $10,000 limit. Tier I and II members are not charged for the insurance on a QPP loan. Insurance on a loan would be terminated if you default on your loan.

How do I apply for a loan?

If you are a member in active service or on a leave of absence, you may apply for a loan from the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper QPP Loan Application (code LO6) .

If you are a participant in TRS' Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program and you are in active service, on a leave of absence, or have TDA Deferral status, you may apply for a TDA loan by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper TDA Loan Application (code LO15) .

However, if you are applying for a QPP or TDA loan in conjunction with retirement, you must file a paper loan application. For more information about loans, please refer to the QPP Loans and TDA Loans brochures.

Why was my loan application canceled?

Your loan application may have been canceled because you were ineligible for a loan at the time you applied. TRS will also cancel a loan application if a member's employer notifies us that a member has resigned. Please see the explanation in the letter notifying you of the cancellation.

May I maintain a QPP loan and a TDA loan at the same time?

Yes. However, your loan from one plan may affect the maximum amount that you may borrow from the other plan.

How often may I take a loan?

If you are a Tier I or II member, you may be eligible to receive up to two QPP loans within a 12-month period. If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you may be eligible to receive one QPP loan within a 12-month period. Eligible TDA participants may receive one TDA loan within a 12-month period.

May I take a loan in the summer?

Yes, if you are otherwise eligible to take a loan.

May I take a loan while I have an outstanding loan balance?

If you are otherwise eligible for a loan, you may apply for a new QPP loan while you have an outstanding QPP loan balance. Through December 31, 2003, your new QPP loan amount would be added to your outstanding loan balance, resulting in a new QPP loan balance. The new loan balance would be subject to the repayment terms, interest, and insurance charges in effect when the new loan is issued. However, effective January 1, 2004, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations would no longer allow outstanding loan balances to be combined with new loans. Instead, any new loan requested would be treated as a separate loan balance, and each loan balance would be subject to the interest and insurance charges in effect when the loan is issued.

How long does it take for a loan to be issued?

Each Wednesday, TRS mails loan checks to members' home addresses. In order for a loan check to be mailed to your home address on a given Wednesday, TRS must generally receive your loan application by the close of business on Wednesday of the preceding week. (If a holiday occurs during the week, TRS must receive your loan application by the first business day of that week.)

Can I have my loan deposited directly in a bank account?

Members who receive their paychecks through direct deposit or monthly retirement allowance payments electronically may elect to have their loan forwarded via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) to the account where these payments are deposited. If members are not eligible to elect EFT, their loan check would be mailed to their home address.

What happens if a loan check never reaches my home?

TRS will place a stop-payment on a lost loan check if you file an Affidavit for Missing Check (code BK2) . In general, TRS will issue a duplicate check within 7-10 days after receiving this form.

Will a TRS loan show up on external credit checks?

No. TRS will not release your information to a third party.

If I purchase an expensive item such as a car with my loan money, should I indicate TRS as a lienholder?

No. TRS does not have a lien on the items you may purchase with loan proceeds.

How can I obtain information about the current status of my loan?

You may do so by logging in to the secure section of our website. You may also write to TRS to obtain this information at any time; if you do so, please include your membership number in your correspondence.

How do I repay a loan?

Loans are normally repaid through payroll deductions. However, several exceptions apply. You may also request to repay your outstanding loan in a lump sum by filing a QPP Loan Repayment Request Form (code LO11q) and/or TDA Loan Repayment Request Form (code LO11t) with TRS. If you are a member with TDA Deferral status, you must make direct monthly TDA loan payments to TRS.

When will my loan deductions begin?

Usually, loan deductions will begin one month after TRS processes a completed loan application. However, if the application is processed in June, July, or August, the deductions will start in September.

Can I make lump-sum loan payments during June, July, and August?

Members may file a QPP Loan Repayment Request Form (code LO11q) and/or TDA Loan Repayment Request Form (code LO11t) to make a lump-sum payment during this time. However, summer checks are issued in advance, and loan payments would have already been deducted from these checks; therefore, a refund may be required for those summer deductions.

How many months do I have to repay a loan?

Tier I and II members must repay QPP loans within four years. All TDA loans, and QPP loans for Tier III, IV, and VI members, must be repaid within five years.

What does the number of loan payments mean in terms of months?

The number of payment periods for a loan is generally two per month. For example, 96 payments means 48 months.

May I change the amount that I am currently repaying toward my loan?

If you are an in-service Tier III, IV, or VI member, you may submit a partial lump-sum payment on a QPP and/or TDA loan and thus reduce the amount of your regular loan payments. This payment would be made in addition to your regularly scheduled periodic payments.

To make a partial lump-sum payment, please submit a check payable to the "Teachers' Retirement System of the City of New York" with a written request to have your repayment period changed (if it would not exceed 60 months) and/or to change the amount of your regularly scheduled payments. Once TRS receives your payment and written request, your loan balance would be recalculated and your subsequent loan payments would be reduced accordingly.

If you have not elected the five-year maximum repayment period for your loan, you can change your repayment amount by requesting that TRS recalculate your loan for the maximum repayment period. Since you will be repaying the loan over a longer period of time, the amount of each regular loan payment would be reduced. Alternatively, you can ask TRS to recalculate your loan for a shorter repayment period, so that you can repay your loan faster.

Please note that a $30 service charge would apply to any recalculation or change in your loan repayment period, and TRS would send you a recalculated loan statement indicating your new loan terms.

When you have an outstanding loan and you take a new loan, each new loan requested would be treated as a separate loan, and each loan balance would be subject to the interest, insurance charges, and repayment terms in effect when the loan is issued.

When would a loan go into default?

If your loan is not fully repaid within five years, it is considered in default, and TRS would ask you to make a lump-sum repayment within 30 days. If you do not repay the amount within 30 days, the loan would become a taxable distribution and would be reported to the IRS. If you are not in active service, your loan would also go into default after you miss three scheduled monthly payments or, if you are a Tier I or II member with a QPP loan, after you miss one quarterly payment. If a TDA loan goes into default, tax consequences may include an IRS-imposed 10% penalty and an additional 20% withholding applied to any TDA funds you receive later that year.

What happens if I have an outstanding loan balance when I go on a leave of absence?

If you take a leave of absence, you automatically qualify for a 12-month grace period when loan payments need not be made. If you have a TDA loan, you may elect to waive any or all of the 12-month grace period by filing a TDA Loan Immediate Repayment Form (code LO29). TRS would recalculate your loan payments to adjust for the interest and insurance charges accrued during your grace period. When the grace period expires, you would make monthly payments directly to TRS or, if you are a Tier I or II member, you would make quarterly payments.

What happens if I am a Tier I or II member and I have an outstanding loan balance when I resign or am terminated?

In general, when you leave service, you may repay your outstanding loan balance in a lump sum within 30 days of TRS' notification. If you do not pay the balance within that timeframe: your outstanding QPP loan amount would generally be reduced from your QPP fund balances; and your outstanding TDA loan balance would be considered a taxable distribution and would be reported to the IRS. However, if you have vested rights when you leave service, you may maintain an outstanding TDA loan balance by filing a TDA Deferral Status Election Form (for vested members) (code TD31).

What happens if I am a Tier III, IV, or VI member without vested rights and I have an outstanding loan balance when I resign or am terminated?

If you do not have vested rights when you leave service, you may repay your outstanding loan balance in a lump sum within 30 days of TRS' notification. If you do not pay the balance within that timeframe: the amount of an outstanding QPP loan would generally be reduced from your QPP fund balances; an outstanding TDA loan amount would be considered a taxable distribution and would be reported to the IRS.

What happens if I am a vested Tier III, IV, or VI member and I have an outstanding loan balance when I resign or am terminated?

If you have vested rights when you leave service, any QPP loan balance would remain outstanding and would continue to accumulate interest. You would have the option of repaying the outstanding loan balance in a lump sum within 30 days or electing to make monthly payments directly to TRS. An outstanding TDA loan balance would be considered a taxable distribution and would be reported to the IRS unless you maintain your loan by electing TDA Deferral status; you may do so by filing a TDA Deferral Status Election Form (for vested members) (code TD31).

What happens if I have an outstanding loan balance when I retire?

When you retire, any outstanding QPP or TDA loan balance would be deducted from your funds in the corresponding program, reducing the amount available for your retirement. In addition, the balance would be considered a distribution, and any taxable portion of the balance would be subject to 20% withholding. TRS would take this withholding from any subsequent cash payment made to you from the corresponding program in the same tax year. This would be a loan at retirement, and if necessary, a QPP excess withdrawal to a Tier I or II member, or a TDA withdrawal. If the withholding due were greater than the subsequent cash payment, TRS would issue you a check in a nominal amount of $10 and would take the balance of the payment towards your withholding obligation.

May I roll over an outstanding or defaulted loan balance?

The following loan amounts may be eligible for a rollover: a) the taxable portion of any outstanding QPP loan balance at the time of your retirement; b) if you are a non-vested Tier III, IV, or VI member, the taxable portion of any outstanding QPP loan balance at the time of your separation from service; and c) if you do not elect TDA Deferral status, any outstanding TDA loan balance at the time of your retirement or separation from service.

May I transfer an outstanding loan balance to another retirement system?

You may transfer the amount of your outstanding QPP loan if you are transferring your membership to one of the following retirement systems: the New York City Board of Education Retirement System; the New York City Employees' Retirement System; the New York State Teachers' Retirement System; or the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System. In addition, if you are transferring your membership to the Board of Education Retirement System, you may transfer your outstanding TDA loan balance. The other retirement systems previously mentioned currently do not maintain a TDA loan program; therefore, your TDA loan balance cannot be transferred.

May I use a direct withdrawal to pay off a TDA loan?

Yes. You may use the withdrawn money at your discretion.

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 March 31, 2012
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.

If I change job titles, how would it affect my TRS membership?

If your new job title is a TRS-eligible position, your TRS membership rights would generally not be affected. However, job-title changes could affect your eligibility for certain retirement plans. For example, if you change from a title with the Department of Education (DOE) or a participating New York City Charter School to a City University of New York (CUNY) title, you would not be eligible to participate in the Age 55 Retirement Program; conversely, if you change from a CUNY title to a DOE or Charter School title, you would be required to participate in the Age 55 Retirement Program.

If your new job is not a TRS-eligible position, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to transfer your TRS membership to another retirement system or you may become a transferred contributor and remain in TRS.

What does vested status mean, and when would I become vested?

You are considered vested when you have completed enough credited service to receive a reduced retirement allowance. Vested members would become eligible to retire upon meeting the applicable age requirements.

 
  • For members who joined TRS before December 11, 2009: In general, you would become vested when you have five years of service credit.
  • For members who joined TRS after December 10, 2009: If you are serving in (or you resign from) a UFT-covered title, you would become vested when you have ten years of service credit. If you are not a UFT-affiliated member, you would become vested when you have five years of service credit.

Can I transfer my membership to another retirement system?

If you have separated from service (resigned or been terminated), or if you are on a leave of absence without pay, you may be eligible to transfer your membership to another retirement system within New York State. Please refer to the TRS Membership Transfer Form (code RW39) for more information. (Please note that non-vested members who have separated from service must submit this form to TRS within seven school years of their separation from service.)

If I transfer my membership to another retirement system, will all of my TRS funds be transferred too?

When you transfer your membership, you also transfer your tier status, service credit, and accumulations in the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP). In addition, Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program participants must elect to withdraw, directly roll over, or directly transfer their TDA funds.

The following rules apply for transferring QPP accumulations:

 
  • If you are a participant in the Age 55 Retirement Program—You may not transfer your Additional Member Contributions (AMCs) unless you are transferring to the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS); in this case, the employee portion of your AMCs may be transferred. If you are transferring to a system other than BERS, you may receive the employee portion of your AMCs as a withdrawal or directly roll over this portion. The entire balance of the employee portion of your AMCs is taxable.
  • If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member—You may not transfer your Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) balance because other retirement systems do not have an equivalent fund to support these monies. Therefore, you may receive your ASAF funds as a withdrawal or directly roll over the balance. The entire ASAF balance is taxable.

If you elect to directly roll over all or part of the taxable portion of your withdrawal to one or more eligible Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) or other successor programs, you must attach a completed QPP Direct Rollover Election Form (code RW29) with the TRS Membership Transfer Form (code RW39) . In all cases, the tax-free portion of your withdrawal will be paid directly to you.

How long does it take to process a transfer of membership?

A membership transfer from TRS usually takes about 9-12 months after the member has filed a TRS Membership Transfer Form (code RW39) and TRS has received the required documentation; please refer to the TRS Membership Transfer Form for more information.

Can I transfer my monies and service to another retirement system outside of New York State?

No. Section 522 of the Education Law specifies that members may transfer to only New York City or New York State public retirement systems.

Can I hold membership in two City retirement systems at the same time?

No. The Administrative Code of the City of New York prohibits simultaneous membership in two city retirement systems.

Who is eligible for Multiple Employment Membership Status?

Multiple Employment Membership status is automatically assigned to in-service members who render employment in two or more TRS-eligible positions during the same school year. Your primary position is the one with the Department of Education or with the City University of New York on which your membership is based. A secondary position is any additional subsequent position held on or after January 1, 1995 that would independently entitle you to TRS membership.

What are the benefits of Multiple Employment Membership Status?

This status may increase funds in your various accounts, may allow for a greater amount of TDA Program contributions, and may positively affect your Final Average Salary when your retirement allowance is calculated. For more information, please see the Multiple Employment Membership Status brochure.

What does it mean to become a transferred contributor?

By electing transferred contributor status, you may retain your current TRS membership rights even though your new position would make you eligible to join another New York City retirement system. Paraprofessional members of TRS who resign their position to work as substitute teachers may, in many instances, maintain their TRS membership this way.

How can I become a transferred contributor?

You would be eligible to become a transferred contributor to TRS if you: a) obtain a position enabling you to gain membership in a New York City retirement system within 60 days of your separation from service; and b) do not withdraw your accumulated QPP contributions; and c) file a Transferred Contributor Election Form (code EN17) within seven school years of your separating from service. Similarly, if you are a member of another New York City retirement system and obtain a TRS-eligible position, you may elect to remain in your current retirement system by filing an Affidavit for Non-TRS Transferred Contributors (code EN40) .

If I separate from service before I am vested, may I purchase service that enables me to vest?

Yes. If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member who has optional service credit available to purchase at the time you separate from service, you may become eligible for vesting by purchasing credit for this service.

If I separate from service after vesting but later return to active service, how is my membership affected?

If you left your QPP accumulations with TRS and returned to active service before the initial payability date of your retirement allowance, you would be reappointed as an in-service TRS member with all the benefits of your former tier; your additional service credit would count toward your future retirement allowance. However, if you withdrew your QPP accumulations, your TRS membership ended when you made your withdrawal; therefore, if you later returned to active service, you would begin a new TRS membership and become part of the tier in effect when you return to service. Please note that if you return to active service after the initial payability date of your retirement allowance, your retirement allowance would stop, and your active membership would be restored.

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.

QPP Contributions

May I change my QPP contribution rate?

If you are a Tier I or Tier II member, you may be eligible to change your contribution rate by filing a QPP Contributions Change Application (code IP1) . If you are a Tier I or II member with at least 20 years of qualifying service, you may also be eligible to stop contributing entirely by filing a Zero Rate Application (code RW73) . For more information, please see the FAQs on Zero Rates.

If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you may not change your QPP contribution rate.

What should I do if I disagree with my QPP contribution rate?

The QPP contribution rate for a Tier VI member is subject to change each year as of April 1, the start of the new "plan year." TRS uses salary/wage information provided by your employer(s) when we determine your contribution rate. Therefore, if you are a Tier VI member who disagrees with your QPP contribution rate, your first step should be to contact your employer(s) to ensure all of your salary/wage information is correct. TRS would correct your contribution rate, if necessary, only based on updated information from your employer(s).

Who is eligible to have a "zero rate" of contributions?

Once Tier I or II members have met their minimum accumulation and have at least 20 years of qualifying service, they may elect to stop making pension contributions. If you qualify, please file a Zero Rate Application (code RW73) with TRS.

What is the impact of electing a zero rate?

Electing a zero rate will increase the amount of your paycheck, but reduce the amount of funds potentially available for your retirement allowance.

How long will it take to process a zero rate?

The new rate will take effect two pay periods after your Zero Rate Application has been approved.

My application for an excess withdrawal or a zero rate was turned down because of "insufficient funds." What does this mean?

This means that you have not yet met your minimum accumulation requirement. There are several reasons why this might be true: you may not have contributed for 20 years; you may have been contributing at less than your certified rate; or you may have elected FICA Class C, which means that your pension deductions are being applied to both your pension and your Social Security, thus resulting in a lower QPP contribution rate.

How much must I contribute to the QPP as a Tier I or II member?

TRS determines a Certified Rate of Contribution for you based on factors such as your age and credited prior service. If you are a Tier II member participating in the Age 55 Retirement Program, you are also required to contribute 1.85% of your gross pensionable compensation to the QPP, generally until you have attained 25 years of Total Service Credit.

How much must I contribute to the QPP as a Tier III or IV member?

DOE/Charter School employees whose TRS membership date is after February 27, 2008: As a participant in the Age 55 Retirement Program, you are initially required to contribute 4.85% of your gross pensionable compensation to the QPP.

If your membership date is after February 27, 2008 and before December 11, 2009, your QPP contributions would be reduced to 1.85% once you have attained 10 years of membership or credited service, and would continue until you have attained 27 years of Total Service Credit. If your membership date is after December 10, 2009, your QPP contributions would be reduced to 1.85% once you have attained 27 years of Total Service Credit, and would continue until you retire.

CUNY employees: You are required to contribute 3% of your gross pensionable compensation to the QPP until you have attained 10 years of membership or credited service.

DOE/Charter School employees who are participating in the Age 55 Retirement Program: If your membership date is before February 28, 2008, you are required to contribute 4.85% of your gross pensionable compensation to the QPP until you have attained 10 years of membership or credited service. Your QPP contributions would then be reduced to 1.85% and would generally continue until you have attained 25 years of Total Service Credit.

DOE/Charter School employees who did not "opt in" to the Age 55 Retirement Program: You are required to contribute 3% of your gross pensionable compensation to the QPP until you have attained 10 years of membership or credited service.

How much must I contribute to the QPP as a Tier VI member?

Through March 31, 2013, all members who joined TRS between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013 were required to make contributions to the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) equaling 3% of their gross wages.

Beginning April 1, 2013, a new contribution schedule took effect for all Tier VI members. Contribution rates are based on annual wages earned during "plan years," as indicated in the table below.

Salary Contribution Rate
$45,000 and less 3.00%
More than $45,000 to $55,000 3.50%
More than $55,000 to $75,000 4.50%
More than $75,000 to $100,000 5.75%
More than $100,000 to $179,000^ 6.00%

^Pension contributions are not made on any wages that exceed the salary of the governor of New York State, currently $179,000.

A plan year is defined as the period of time from April 1 to March 31. QPP contribution rates are subject to change as of April 1, the start of the new plan year. If TRS determines that a rate change is required, we will notify you in advance; contribution rate changes take effect on the first available payroll in April. If TRS does not notify you, your contribution rate would remain the same for the next plan year.

During your first three plan years of membership, TRS will use a projection of your annual wages to determine your contribution rate; these projections are based on your most recent contractual salary, as provided by your employer(s). (Note for members who joined TRS between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013: For contribution rate purposes only, your first plan year is considered to be the plan year beginning on April 1, 2013.)

Beginning in your fourth plan year of membership and each plan year thereafter, TRS will use your actual wages earned two plan years prior to determine your contribution rate; your wage information is provided by your employer(s). As an example, for the plan year beginning April 1, 2016, the contribution rate would be based on the actual wages for the plan year beginning April 1, 2014.

The rules for determining pension contribution rates were outlined in Chapter 18 of the Laws of 2012, the law that effectively created Tier VI.

Note for members who receive wages from multiple employers (i.e., Department of Education, City University of New York, participating New York City Charter Schools): You are required to make pension contributions on all wages received from your primary employer. (Your TRS membership is based on your position with your primary employer.) Pension contributions are also required on all wages from your second employer. However, if you have more than two employers, contributions would only be required on the wages from two employers: your primary employer and the additional employer that provides you with the highest total wages.

What do the payroll deduction codes on my pay stub represent?

The code "TRS 414H STD" represents pre-tax QPP deductions.

The code "TRS 55 PRGM" represents pre-tax QPP deductions made under the Age 55 Retirement Program. (Only certain members in Tier II, III, and IV belong to this program.)

The code "TR PN LNS" represents QPP loan payments.

The code "TRS TDA" represents TDA contributions (including your contribution limit and any applicable "catch-up" contributions).

The code "TRS TDA LOAN" represents TDA loan payments.

The code "TRS BUYBACK" represents purchase of credit for prior or Amman service.

The code "TR PN ARR AT" represents mandatory payments for membership service deficits incurred for service rendered before July 1989; these funds are not federally taxable upon distribution. (Tier III and IV members)

The code "TRS 414H ARR" represents mandatory payments for membership service deficits incurred for service rendered after July 1989; these funds are federally taxable upon distribution. (Tier III, IV, and VI members)

How soon after my TRS membership begins will my QPP contributions start?

At the time of membership, you will be notified as to when your pension deductions should begin. If you have a problem with your pension deductions, you should contact TRS' In-Service Payroll Division in writing and attach a photocopy of the paystubs in question.

I recently transferred from another retirement system to TRS. The other retirement system has stopped taking deductions from my paycheck, but TRS has not yet begun taking deductions. Why?

Deductions can only be made from one retirement system at a time, and it takes some time to complete the transition. Your TRS deductions should begin soon.

Do my QPP contributions gain interest?

For Tier III, IV, and VI members, QPP funds automatically accrue 5% interest annually. For Tier I and II members, earnings on QPP funds depend on how the funds are invested in TRS' Passport Funds. The return on QPP funds in the Fixed Return Fund is currently guaranteed at 8.25%; the returns on QPP funds in the variable-return Passport Funds fluctuate monthly. Your most recent Quarterly Account Statement (QAS) indicates your investment elections. You may also review your investment elections by accessing the secure section of our website.

How can I change the way my QPP funds are invested?

Tier I and II in-service members and retirees may change their QPP investment elections four times a year. Investment election changes take place on the following conversion dates: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

Tier I and II in-service members may change their investment elections for future QPP contributions and/or past QPP accumulations by filing a QPP Investment Election Change Form (code MA7) at any time; their elections would take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 30 days after TRS receives their form.

Tier I and II retirees may change their investment elections for their QPP retirement allowance by filing a Retiree's QPP Investment Election Change Form (code RP8) at any time; their elections would take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives their form.

Please note that Tier III, IV, and VI members may not choose how their QPP funds are invested; their contributions automatically accrue 5% interest annually.

What should I do if I believe there is an error in the amount of pension deductions taken from my paycheck?

If you believe an incorrect amount was deducted for your pension contributions, please notify TRS' In-Service Payroll Division in writing and attach a photocopy of the paystubs in question.

Will I be refunded for an erroneous contribution?

Yes. To apply for a refund, you must complete an Erroneous Contribution Refund Application (code IP12) .

Does my employer contribute toward my retirement allowance?

If you are an in-service Tier I or II member who is not on a leave of absence, your employer makes contributions equaling 2.5% of your salary to your Increased-Take-Home-Pay (ITHP) account. If you retire, you would receive this amount as part of your retirement allowance. In addition, certain Department of Education and Charter School employees in all tiers receive a supplemental contribution when they reach the maximum of their salary schedule. This amount is $550 per year for supervisors, and $400 per year for other members. If you are a Tier I or II member, this amount is deposited in your Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) account; if you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, this amount is deposited in your Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) account.

What are "excess" contributions?

Any contributions that Tier I and II members have made to their Annuity Savings Fund account that exceed their required Minimum Accumulation amount are considered excess contributions. Members may keep these excess funds in their account or may apply to withdraw them.

What is my minimum accumulation?

If you are a Tier I or II member, your Minimum Accumulation is the amount you must have in your QPP account to be eligible to receive a full retirement benefit (if you are not subject to an age reduction). This amount is based on factors such as your prior service, your membership date, and actual salary history from your membership date to your 20-year date. The calculation of your minimum accumulation includes the amount of your required QPP contributions that was expected up to your 20-year date.

What is the difference between FICA Classes "A," "C," and "E"?

Under FICA Class "A," your Social Security tax and your pension contributions are both deducted from your gross salary.

Under FICA Class "C," your pension contributions are reduced by the amount of your Social Security tax.

Under FICA Class "E," only your pension contributions are deducted from your gross salary; no Social Security tax is withheld.

Tier I and II members have the option of electing Class "A" or Class "C"; Tier III, IV, and VI members are automatically assigned to Class "A." (Please note that Class "E" is no longer offered.)

When can I file for a FICA-C offset or an ITHP waiver?

Tier I and II members can apply at anytime by filing a QPP Contributions Change Application (code IP1) .

Retirement

What is Final Average Salary?

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.

How can I submit my retirement application?

We suggest that you return your retirement application to TRS in person; that way, a TRS representative can check the application and ensure that it is completed correctly. You may also return your application to TRS by mail if you believe you have accurately completed it. However, please note that mistakes on applications can cause processing delays.

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.

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.

How do I prepare for the retirement process?

If you are contemplating retiring soon, you may be wondering how to begin. It's important to begin preparing for the application process well in advance of your intended retirement date.

The following checklist should help you prepare for the retirement process.

  • Review your service credit as soon as possible, to ensure you are eligible to retire;
  • Consider taking a loan or, if applicable, an excess withdrawal;
  • Choose a method of distribution for your TDA funds;
  • Elect a payment option and designate your beneficiaries, if applicable;
  • Tier I and II members should make a QPP investment election at retirement;
  • File the Service Retirement Application for your tier;
  • Read any of the applicable TRS Retirement Series brochures; and
  • Check for the forms you may need to file with your retirement application

If I am a Tier I member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated?

If you have served at least three years in the position from which you are retiring, your FAS generally would be the actual gross salary earnable during the 12 months prior to your retirement. If you have served less than three years in the position from which you are retiring, your FAS generally would be your annual earnable salary during the last year of the most recent position you held for at least three years. You may instead elect to have your FAS be your average annual salary earnable during any five consecutive years.

If I am a Tier II member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated?

Your FAS generally would be the average of your highest three consecutive annual salaries. However, if the salary you earned during any year included in the three-year period exceeds the average of the previous two years by more than 20%, the amount in excess of 20% would be excluded from the calculation.

If I am a Tier III or IV member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated?

Your FAS generally would be the highest average of wages earned during any continuous period of employment for which you were credited with three years of service (subject to certain exclusions). Wages earned during any year used in a FAS calculation cannot exceed the average of the previous two years' wages by more than 10%; the amount in excess of 10% would be excluded from the computation of FAS.

If I am a Tier VI member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated?

Your FAS generally would be the highest average of wages earned during any continuous period of employment for which you were credited with five years of service (subject to certain exclusions). Wages earned during any year used in a FAS calculation cannot exceed the average of the previous four years' wages by more than 10%; the amount in excess of 10% would be excluded from the computation of FAS.

If I am a Tier IV member, how would my service retirement allowance be calculated?

The regular pension portion of your retirement allowance is calculated based on factors such as your Total Service Credit and Final Average Salary (FAS), as indicated below.

Total Service Credit Service Retirement Allowance
Less than 20 years 1 2/3% of your FAS x years of Total Service Credit
20-29 years 2% of your FAS x years of Total Service Credit
30 years or more 60% of your FAS (for the first 30 years) + 1½% of your FAS x each year exceeding 30 years

The second portion of your retirement allowance is based on your Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) balance. An ASAF account contains monthly supplemental contributions that the Department of Education provides to certain eligible employees who reach the maximum of their salary schedule. At retirement, any ASAF funds you have are transferred into an Annuity Reserve Accumulation Fund (ARAF), which is paid as part of your retirement allowance.

For more information, please see the If I am a Tier IV member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated? FAQ above.

If I am a Tier VI member, how would my service retirement allowance be calculated?

The regular pension portion of your retirement allowance is calculated based on factors such as your Total Service Credit and Final Average Salary (FAS), as indicated below.

 
Total Service Credit Service Retirement Allowance
Less than 20 years 1 2/3% of your FAS x years of Total Service Credit
20 or more years 35% of your FAS (for the first 20 years) + 2% of your FAS x each year exceeding 20 years

The second portion of your retirement allowance is based on your Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) balance. An ASAF account contains monthly supplemental contributions that the Department of Education provides to certain eligible employees who reach the maximum of their salary schedule. At retirement, any ASAF funds you have are transferred into an Annuity Reserve Accumulation Fund (ARAF), which is paid as part of your retirement allowance.

For more information, please see the I am a Tier VI member, how would my Final Average Salary (FAS) be calculated? FAQ above.

What payment options may I elect for my retirement allowance?

You may elect to receive the maximum retirement allowance for which you are eligible. However, if you elect to provide for a beneficiary after you die, your retirement allowance would be reduced. The following choices are available regarding your beneficiary: options that provide lifetime benefits to your beneficiary after your death; options that enable your retirement allowance to "pop up" to the maximum if your beneficiary predeceases you; and options that guarantee that a certain number of retirement allowance payments will be made to you (or to your beneficiary, if you should die before the designated number of payments have been made). Tier I and II members also have the option of leaving a lump-sum amount to a beneficiary. In all cases, you would receive your retirement allowance for as long as you live. Please see the FAQs–Beneficiaries section for more information.

If I choose to receive the Maximum Payment Option, what would happen to my retirement allowance when I die?

All retirement allowance payments would cease upon your death. However, any amount due for the month in which you die would be payable to your fractional beneficiary.

In addition, for Tier II, III, IV, and VI retirees who are covered under Death Benefit #2, their Death Benefit #2 beneficiary may be eligible to receive a lump-sum post-retirement death benefit. See the FAQs about Death Benefits for more information.

Can I receive my retirement allowance in a lump sum?

In general, lump-sum payments of your retirement allowance are only permitted for terminally ill members (please see the TRS' Lump-Sum Disability Benefit brochure); however, all eligible members may apply for a loan from their funds in conjunction with retirement. If you are a Tier I and II member, you may also withdraw in a lump sum any amount in your Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) that is in excess of your minimum accumulation. (Please note that an outstanding loan or an excess withdrawal at retirement may result in a reduction of your retirement allowance payments.)

May I change the elections I make on my retirement application?

Yes. However, in general, TRS must receive any changes no later than one day before the effective payability date of your retirement allowance. If you filed a disability retirement application, TRS must generally receive any changes within 30 days after the date on which the Medical Board recommends your disability retirement. However, the Applicant's Personal Report and the Report of Applicant's Physician may not be amended after they are filed.

In addition, members who filed for retirement after October 31, 2003 or left service under a disability retirement after October 31, 2003 may change their retirement allowance payment options up to 30 calendar days after their payability date. Disability retirees of all tiers may now change their retirement payment options up to 30 days after their disability application is approved or 30 days from the date they retired as a result of the disability, whichever is later. Please note that for all eligible members, the 30-day allowance includes weekends.

What is my payability date?

Your payability date is generally the date on which you become eligible to receive a retirement allowance. If you are eligible for immediate payment of a retirement allowance, your payability date would be the same as your effective retirement date. However, if the receipt of your retirement allowance is deferred, your payability date would be either a) the date that you are eligible to begin receiving retirement allowance payments, or b) a subsequent date that you designate for payments to begin.

You may generally file your retirement application no sooner than 90 days before your effective retirement date, and TRS must receive your application no later than 1 day before your effective retirement. However, if you are a Tier I or Tier II member who wants to retire under a deferred payability, it would be in your best interest to file your retirement application as soon as you leave service. Your initial payability date will be deferred until the date you would have received 25 years of service credit had you remained in service. Once TRS receives your retirement application, we will begin counting towards the 25-year service credit date. For example, a 62-year-old member leaves service after acquiring 20 years of service credit. Five more years must elapse before the member can begin receiving deferred retirement payments, but TRS does not begin counting down those five years until we receive that member's retirement application. If the member were to wait five years and then file an application, five additional years would have to elapse before the member can receive deferred retirement payments.

Will TRS provide me with documentation confirming my retirement?

There are three occasions on which you will receive such a confirmation:

  • When you submit your retirement application, either in person or by mail, you will receive a receipt.
  • Shortly after TRS initiates the benefits process, you will receive an advisement letter which indicates information such as your effective retirement date, type of retirement you filed, and form of payment chosen.
  • Shortly after you receive your first retirement allowance payment, you will receive a Benefits Letter. This document indicates your monthly and annual retirement allowance, payment option chosen, Final Average Salary, total years of service, and initial reserves.

If you have not yet received your first retirement payment, and you need confirmation of your retirement to obtain a mortgage or to begin health insurance, you may submit a written request for a pension verification letter. You may also request such a letter in person at TRS.

When will my employer be notified of my retirement?

When a TRS retirement examiner begins to process your retirement application, two copies of the Notice of Prospective Retirement are generated. One is sent to you. The other notice is sent to your school or college, stating that you have filed a retirement application and indicating your prospective retirement date. You should give a copy of the Notice of Prospective Retirement to your payroll secretary or benefits officer for health insurance purposes. If you are a Department of Education employee, the Department of Education and your union are also notified via a computer file that is generated monthly.

How long will it take to process my retirement application?

It generally takes about three to five months to process a retirement application. If your application has not been processed within our normal processing time, TRS will begin to issue advance payments to you. Factors that may impact the amount of time needed to process an application include the following:

  • the timely transfer of information, such as salary and service verification, from other agencies;
  • the calculation of any service purchase;
  • the verification of any loans and excess withdrawals

Can I change my beneficiary designations after retirement?

The answer depends on which retirement option you elected. For certain options, the age of the member's beneficiary is a factor in calculating a retirement allowance; as a result, the beneficiary cannot be changed after the retirement date has passed. However, for the following options, you can change your beneficiary(ies) after retirement:

  • For Tier I and II members—Options I, IV-b, IV-d, and IV-e;
  • For Tier III, IV, and VI members—Options 3 and 4

After retirement, you may also change your fractional beneficiary and your Death Benefit #2 beneficiary, if applicable.

Will my retirement benefits be offset by Social Security?

Only members who retire under Tier III are affected by this law. Upon reaching age 62, the retirement allowances for Tier III retirees are reduced by 50% of the Social Security benefit they accrued while they were in public employment with New York State or its political subdivisions such as New York City. If your payments commence after you reach age 62, the reduction takes effect on the date your payments commence.

Can someone file my retirement application on my behalf?

Your retirement application may be submitted by another individual; however, you must complete and sign the application yourself. Please note that your signature must be notarized. When you have granted Power of Attorney to another individual, that individual may sign on your behalf and receive benefit information concerning your retirement.

What happens if I do not meet my minimum accumulation?

Tier I and II members who do not meet the minimum accumulation may not be eligible to receive their full retirement benefit. In addition, they would not be eligible to elect a zero rate of contributions or to make an excess withdrawal.

What is a Benefits Letter?

A Benefits Letter, which TRS sends each retiree, shows the member's monthly and annual retirement allowance amounts. In addition, it provides the specific information used to calculate the member's retirement allowance.

When will I receive my Benefits Letter?

You will most likely receive your Benefits Letter from TRS about one week before receiving your first retirement allowance payment. The letter is sent out after the processing of your retirement is completed.

Why does my retirement allowance differ from the amount that my union representative calculated?

The figures used by your union representative were estimates. Several factors included in the actual retirement allowance calculation may not have been known to your union representative when he or she made the estimate. These factors may have included changes in unit value, your recent investment elections, the payment option you chose, your Final Average Salary, your total service credit, and whether you took a loan or made an excess withdrawal at retirement.

Why does the number of variable units shown on my QAS differ from the number of variable units used to compute my retirement benefits?

The QAS indicates the number of your variable units at the end of each quarter of the calendar year. Unless you retired in the month following the end of a calendar quarter (i.e., January, April, July, or October), the number of variable units shown on your QAS would differ from the number of variable units used to compute your retirement benefit.

What should I do if I disagree with information in the Benefits Letter?

You should file a Benefits Letter Inquiry Form (code RC1) , along with a copy of the page of your Benefits Letter. Please highlight the information that you believe needs to be corrected, explain the discrepancy, and include supporting documentation.

May I receive a duplicate Benefits Letter?

Yes. In order to receive a duplicate Benefits Letter, you must submit a written request to TRS at 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041. Please include your name, address, retirement number, and Social Security number in this request.

What retirement plans are available to Tier I members?

If you have 25 or more years of qualifying service and have reached age 55, you would qualify for immediate payment under Plan A. If you have between 20 and 25 years of qualifying service, your Plan A benefits would be deferred until the later of your 55th birthday or the date you would have completed 25 years had you remained in active service. If you have reached age 55 but you are not eligible to retire under Plan A, you may cancel your Plan A membership and elect to retire under Plan B. If you have not reached age 55, but you have completed at least 30 years of total credited service, you may elect a 30-Year Demand Retirement.

You may switch once from Plan A to B or from Plan B to A. You would then only be permitted to switch back if, within 30 days of applying for the change, you retire or leave City service with vested rights.

What retirement plans are available to Tier II members?

If you have 25 or more years of qualifying service and have reached age 55, you would qualify for immediate payment under Plan C. If you have between 20 and 25 years of qualifying service and have reached age 55, your Plan C benefits would be deferred until the date you would have completed 25 years had you remained in active service. If you have reached age 55 but you are not eligible to retire under Plan C, you may cancel your Plan C membership and elect to retire under Plan D. Your retirement allowance may be reduced if you retire before age 62; please consult your Summary Plan Description for more information.

You may switch once from Plan C to D or from Plan D to C. You would then only be permitted to switch back if, within 30 days of applying for the change, you retire or leave City service with vested rights.

What retirement plans are available to Tier III and IV members?

In general, you would be eligible to receive unreduced retirement allowance payments (full benefits) if one of the following statements applies to you:

  • You are at least age 62 as of your retirement date and you are vested^; or
  • You are at least age 55 as of your retirement date and have attained at least 30 years of Total Service Credit; or
  • You are covered by the "55/25" provisions of the Age 55 Retirement Program, are at least age 55 as of your retirement date, and have attained at least 25 years of Total Service Credit; or
  • You are covered by the "55/27" provisions of the Age 55 Retirement Program, are at least age 55 as of your retirement date, and have attained at least 27 years of Total Service Credit.

If none of the statements above applies to you, then you do not qualify for unreduced payments of your retirement allowance. However, as long as you are vested^ and at least age 55, you would be eligible to retire with a reduced retirement allowance.

^Most Tier III and IV members become vested upon attaining five years of Total Service Credit. However, members whose TRS membership began after December 10, 2009, and who are working in a title represented by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), become vested upon attaining 10 years of Total Service Credit.

For more information, please see the What is the Age 55 Retirement Program? FAQ below.

What retirement plans are available to Tier VI members?

In general, you would be eligible to receive unreduced retirement allowance payments (full benefits) if you are at least age 63 and you are vested^. You would generally be eligible to retire with a reduced retirement allowance if you are at least age 55, you are vested, and you are retiring directly from active service or a leave of absence. Please note that, if you have separated from service (through resignation or termination) you would not be eligible to retire before the age of 63. ^As a Tier VI member, you become vested upon attaining 10 years of Total Service Credit.

For more information, please see the Will I receive a reduced retirement allowance due to my age at retirement? FAQ below.

What is the Age 55 Retirement Program?

The Age 55 Retirement Program provides eligible members with the option to retire with unreduced benefits as early as age 55, provided they meet applicable Total Service Credit requirements. Under the "55/25" provisions, participants may retire as early as age 55 if they have at least 25 years of Total Service Credit as of their retirement date; under the Chapter 504 provisions, participants must have at least 27 years of Total Service Credit as of their retirement date (these participants are vested upon attaining 10 years of Total Service). The provisions that apply generally depend on participants' TRS membership date:

  • Members whose TRS membership began on or before February 27, 2008 and who opted into the program are covered by the "55/25" provisions.
  • Members whose TRS membership began after February 27, 2008 and on or before December 10, 2009 are covered by the "55/27" provisions. (Also, certain members whose TRS membership began on or before February 27, 2008 were eligible to opt into the program under the "55/27" provisions.)
  • Members whose TRS membership began after December 10, 2009 and before April 1, 2012 are covered by the "Chapter 504" provisions.

Only employees of the Department of Education (DOE) or participating Charter Schools may participate in the Age 55 Retirement Program.

Will I receive a reduced retirement allowance due to my age at retirement?

If you choose to retire earlier than normal retirement age, an age-reduction factor may be applied to your service retirement allowance, depending on your tier and retirement program.

Tier I Members

Age reductions would not apply if you are at least age 55 at your payability date. You may retire before age 55 (with an age-reduction factor) if you have at least 30 years of Total Service Credit. The chart below shows the percentage of the full benefit that you would receive in this case:

Age at Payability Date % of Benefit
54 95%
53 90%
52 85%
51 80%
50 75%

Tier II, III^, and IV Members

The chart below shows the percentage of the full benefit that you may receive if you retire before age 62 with less than 30 years of Total Service Credit. (^Please note that different age-reduction factors would apply to retirements under Tier III. However, those factors are rarely used and not shown below because Tier III members normally retire under Tier IV.)

Age at Payability Date % of Benefit
61 94%
60 88%
59 85%
58 82%
57 79%
56 76%
55 73%

Note: Age reductions would not apply to members who retire with at least 30 years of Total Service Credit. Participants in the Age 55 Retirement Program who retire after meeting the requirements of this program would also not be subject to age reductions; for more information, please see the What is the Age 55 Retirement Program? FAQ above.

Tier VI Members

The chart below shows the percentage of the full benefit that you may receive if you retire before age 63.

Age at Payability Date % of Benefit
62 93.5%
61 87.0%
60 80.5%
59 74.0%
58 67.5%
57 61.0%
56 54.5%
55 48.0%

How much would my service retirement allowance be?

Your monthly service retirement allowance is calculated based on several factors including your tier, your age at retirement, and your qualifying years of service. In general, all members receive a pension based on their service credit and their Final Average Salary (or FAS). In addition, the retirement allowances of Tier I and II members may include a pension based on their Increased-Take-Home Pay (or ITHP) and an annuity based on any funds they have accumulated in excess of their required minimum accumulation. Please refer to your Summary Plan Description for more detailed information. While TRS is unable to provide an estimate of your allowance at this time, you may contact your union in this regard.

When should I file my service retirement application?

You may file your service retirement application no sooner than 90 days before the effective date of your retirement. TRS must receive your application no later than 1 day before your effective date of retirement.

How many beneficiaries may I designate at retirement?

You may designate as many beneficiaries as you want if you elect one of the following payment options: I, IV-b, IV-d, and IV-e (Tier I and II members); 3 and 4 (Tier III, IV, and VI members). You may designate only one beneficiary for the other payment options, which provide lifetime benefits to one beneficiary. You may not designate any beneficiary if you elect to receive the Maximum Payment Option. However, no matter which payment option you elect, you may designate as many beneficiaries as you want for the fractional benefit payment and for Death Benefit #2.

As a member with vested deferred status, can I receive an estimate of my QPP retirement allowance or TDA annuity?

If you submitted your retirement application after your separation from service, you will receive an advisement letter approximately 90 days before your effective retirement date. This letter will provide an estimate of your QPP retirement allowance. In addition, if on your retirement application you elected to annuitize your TDA, you will receive an estimate of your TDA annuity.

What are the eligibility requirements for an Ordinary Disability Retirement?

You may be eligible for an Ordinary Disability Retirement if you are an in-service member or you are on an official leave of absence, and you become physically or mentally incapable of performing your work duties.

In addition, if you are a Tier I, II, IV or VI member, you must have at least 10 years of credited service. If you are a Tier III member, you must have at least 5 years of credited service, must be eligible to receive primary Social Security disability benefits if you are under age 65, and must waive the benefits of any statutory presumption relating to the cause of disability or eligibility for disability benefits.

For more information, please see the Ordinary Disability Retirement and Lump-Sum Disability Benefit brochures.

What are the eligibility requirements for an Accident Disability Retirement?

You may be eligible for an Accident Disability Retirement if you meet all of the following conditions:

 
  • You are either an in-service member or on an official leave of absence; and
  • You become physically or mentally incapable of performing your work duties; and
  • You become disabled as a natural and proximate result of an accident, sustained in the performance of your duties in active service, that was not caused by your own willful negligence.

In addition, if you are a Tier III member, you must be eligible to receive primary Social Security disability benefits if you are under age 65, and must waive the benefits of any statutory presumption relating to the cause of disability or eligibility for disability benefits.

For more information, please see the Accident Disability Retirement brochure.

What are the eligibility requirements for a lump-sum disability benefit?

You may be eligible for a lump-sum disability benefit if you are an in-service member or you are on an official leave of absence, and you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of no more than 12 months.

In addition, if you are a Tier III member, you must be eligible to receive primary Social Security disability benefits if you are under age 65, and you must waive the benefits of any statutory presumption relating to the cause of disability or eligibility for disability benefits.

If you are determined to be eligible for a lump-sum disability benefit, you would receive a benefit equaling the amount payable (as a death benefit) had you died on your last day of active service.

Please note that, if you meet the Total Service Credit requirement for ordinary disability retirement (10 years for members filing under Tiers I, II, IV, and VI, 5 years for members filing under Tier III), you must also apply for an ordinary disability retirement when you request a lump-sum disability benefit. Your case would be reviewed by TRS' Medical Board, and you would be scheduled for a medical examination. The Medical Board would then determine whether you are eligible for an ordinary disability retirement and/or the lump-sum disability benefit.

For more information, please see the Lump-Sum Disability Benefit brochure.

If I am eligible for both a service retirement and a disability retirement, which would be more beneficial?

While TRS cannot give you advice on which retirement plan to apply for, here are some factors to consider. If you are a Tier I member who is eligible for immediate payment of a retirement allowance or a Tier II, III, IV or VI member who is eligible for an unreduced service retirement allowance, you may want to consider applying for a service retirement; the benefits would be identical to those under an ordinary disability retirement, and you would not have the restrictions involved with a disability retirement. However, if you are eligible for an accident disability retirement, you may receive a higher benefit and more beneficial tax treatment by electing an accident disability retirement rather than a service retirement.

Does my physician have to submit a report about my condition?

Yes. As part of the application process, your physician must file a report with TRS and submit medical documentation to support your claim. These records should include a history of your illness, treatment (if any), and prognosis. Your physician should also include copies of any relevant x-rays and surgical or pathological reports.

How does TRS decide if I receive a disability retirement?

The TRS Medical Board reviews all disability retirement applications. TRS will notify you by mail of the date and time of your examination with the doctors on TRS' Medical Board. The Medical Board will meet after this examination to determine whether you are eligible for a disability retirement. The Medical Board will then submit its decision to the Teachers' Retirement Board, which will adopt a resolution certifying the Medical Board's decision provided proper administrative procedures are followed. You will be notified of the Medical Board's decision by mail.

When does the Medical Board meet?

In general, meetings are held every two weeks, usually on a Wednesday.

If the Medical Board denies my application, what options do I have?

If you disagree with the Medical Board's findings, you may request that a Special Medical Committee review the Medical Board's recommendations. TRS must receive your request within 30 days of the date you receive the transcript of your exam. If you apply for this review, you must pay half the cost of the medical fees incurred and you would waive your rights to pursue your case in any other forum. Another option, if you have new evidence for your case, is to reapply for a disability retirement. In addition, if you had applied for an accident disability retirement application and were denied, you may file for an ordinary disability retirement instead.

How much would my disability retirement allowance be?

Your monthly disability retirement allowance is calculated based on tier-specific formulas. For more information, see the applicable brochure: Ordinary Disability Retirement or Accident Disability Retirement . You may also obtain these brochures through the Publications feature of our website, or by calling TRS at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS.

While TRS is unable to provide an estimate of your allowance at this time, you may contact your union in this regard.

Would I receive my disability retirement allowance for the rest of my life?

Yes, unless the TRS Medical Board certifies that you are no longer incapacitated for performance of gainful employment. If this occurs within 10 years of your retirement, your former employer must restore you to active employment. If your retirement has lasted longer, your restoration to service would be at your former employer's discretion. By law, you are required to be re-examined at the TRS Medical Board's discretion, and at TRS' expense, until you reach age 65. Failure to report for a re-examination may result in the suspension of your retirement allowance; if this failure to report continues for a year, you would forfeit all rights to your pension.

How does EFT work?

By the last day of every month, the City of New York will transmit your payment to your financial institution for deposit in your designated account. Under the EFT system, you will no longer receive a check stub, but you will receive an EFT Quarterly Statement detailing your monthly payments. In addition, you will be able to view payment details each month after logging on to our website.

The monthly transactions will also appear on statements from your financial institution. (Note that statements from your financial institution will reflect the date a payment was credited, whereas TRS statements will reflect the date a payment was disbursed.)

Is EFT available for payments other than retirement benefits?

EFT is available for other payments, as noted below.

If you are an in-service member paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit, you may elect to receive QPP loans or QPP direct withdrawals via EFT in the same account where you receive your pay. You would automatically receive a TDA loan or TDA direct withdrawal via EFT, unless you elect to receive these distributions by check.

If you are a retiree with TDA Deferral status and you are receiving your retirement allowance via EFT, you would automatically receive a TDA loan and TDA direct withdrawal via EFT in the same account where you receive your benefit payments, unless you elect to receive these distributions by check. You would automatically receive a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) via EFT.

How can I initiate EFT at retirement?

If you are currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit for work in a position that entitles you to TRS membership: You will be automatically enrolled to receive your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) via EFT. You do not need to do anything; these payments will be automatically deposited in your account via EFT. However, if you want your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) to be deposited via EFT in a different account, you must file an EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66) .

If you are currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit for work in a position that does not entitle you to TRS membership (e.g., substitute or per diem teacher): You must file an EFT Election at Retirement Form if you want your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) to be deposited via EFT.

If you do not want your monthly benefit payments paid via EFT: You must file an Opt Out of EFT at Retirement Form (code BK67) . (You may subsequently initiate EFT at any time by filing an EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) with TRS.)

Retiring TRS members who are not currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit MUST file either an EFT Election at Retirement Form or an Opt Out of EFT at Retirement Form in order to receive their advance and/or regular retirement allowance payments. Failure to file one of these forms would result in a delay in the payment of benefits.

These two forms are available on request from our Member Services Center (not from our website). Members who are retiring should speak with a Member Services Representative for more information about EFT.

On what day will funds be deposited in my account under EFT?

Under the EFT system, funds are deposited in your account on the day the payment is issued. Monthly benefit payments, withdrawals, and other distributions are generally issued by the last day of each month. In order for a loan payment to be forwarded to your account via EFT by a given Friday, TRS must generally receive your loan application by the close of business on Wednesday of the preceding week. All payments deposited via EFT are available for immediate withdrawal.

Can one EFT Authorization Form or EFT Election at Retirement Form be filed to receive both QPP retirement allowance payments and TDA annuity payments through EFT?

Yes, as long as the payments are to be deposited in the same account. You must indicate this on your EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) or EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66) .

May different types of monthly benefit payments be deposited in different accounts?

Yes, by filing a separate EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) or EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66) , as applicable, for each account.

Please note that you cannot submit an EFT Authorization Form or EFT Election at Retirement Form in order to receive a QPP or TDA loan via EFT. QPP and TDA loans can be distributed electronically only if you are already receiving your paychecks through direct deposit or retirement allowance payments through EFT.

On the EFT Authorization Form (or EFT Election at Retirement Form, if applicable) should I check off "savings" or "checking" if my EFT will be made to a money market account?

Members should contact their bank to determine if the money market account is considered a checking or a savings account.

How can I be restored to active service after I retire?

You should first find employment in a TRS-eligible position. In addition, you must file with TRS either an Application for Restoration from Service Retirement (code GA1) or an Application for Voluntary Restoration from Disability Retirement (code DI20). The Application for Voluntary Restoration from Disability Retirement may be obtained by calling TRS at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS and speaking with one of our Member Services Representatives.

How long does it take to complete a restoration to active service?

The process takes four to six months from the effective date of restoration.

Are there any penalties if I am restored to active service and then retire a second time?

No. In fact, depending on the circumstances, the retirement allowance payments that members receive the second time may be more than when they retired the first time.

How soon after I am restored to active service can I apply for a QPP loan?

You may apply for a new QPP loan approximately four months after you receive your new TRS membership number.

Service Credit

What is considered Total Service Credit?

In general, your Total Service Credit consists of the following:

Membership Service: Any credited service you rendered as a TRS member.

Transferred Service: Any service you transferred from an eligible retirement system to TRS as part of a membership transfer.

Optional Service: Certain eligible service for which you have claimed or purchased credit. For more information, please see the What is optional service credit? FAQ under the Payment for Credit tab.

Chapter 126 Credit (Tier I and II members only): Credit for remaining in active service from October 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001 and from July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002.

What is considered qualifying service?

In general, qualifying service is equal to the sum of your TRS membership service, transferred service, credited optional service, and Chapter 126 credit (for eligible Tier I and II members). For more information, please see the What is optional service credit? FAQ under the Payment for Credit tab.

For Tier I members, outside teaching service would count as qualifying service when determining eligibility for vesting and eligibility for a 30-Year “Demand” Retirement. Outside teaching service would not count toward eligibility for a Plan A or B service retirement benefit, but it would count when determining the amount of a Plan A or B service retirement allowance.

Can I receive credit for prior service with a New York City public employer?

If you were employed by the City of New York before you became a member of TRS, you may be eligible to receive credit for that prior service. In most cases, TRS will need to contact your former employer to verify your request for prior service credit.

If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you would need to purchase credit for any eligible prior service. If you are a Tier I or II member, no purchase is required; credit would be granted after the service is verified by your former employer.

For more information, please see How can I request prior service credit? FAQ under the Payment for Credit tab.

Can I receive credit for prior service with a New York State public employer?

If you were employed by a public employer within New York State before you became a member of TRS, you may be eligible to receive credit for that prior service. TRS will need to contact your former employer to verify your request for prior service credit.

If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you would need to purchase credit for any eligible prior service. If you are a Tier II member, no purchase is required; credit would be granted after the service is verified by your former employer. If you are a Tier I member, you may be able to purchase Outside Teaching Service credit for teaching or pedagogical supervisory service in a school or college not maintained by the City of New York.

For more information, please see How can I request prior service credit? FAQ under the Payment for Credit tab.

Is prior service with an employer outside of New York State creditable in TRS?

Service outside of New York State is not creditable in TRS for members in Tier II, III, IV, or VI.

However, Tier I members may be able to purchase Outside Teaching Service credit for teaching or pedagogical supervisory service in a school or college not maintained by the City of New York.

Is a Restoration of Health Leave creditable in TRS?

Credit for Restoration of Health Leave (or LHR) is only applicable to Tier I members. To receive pension credit for this leave, you must initially apply through your employer (either the Department of Education or the City University of New York). Your employer will recommend to TRS whether the LHR should be credited for pension purposes. However, TRS will make the final determination whether pension credit is granted for the LHR.

When will I receive credit for eligible prior service?

In general, once your former employer has verified your prior service, and you have made any required payment, TRS will grant credit for prior service. Most members also must have at least two years of membership service before prior service credit can be granted.

The table below illustrates when members in each tier can receive prior service credit.

 

  Tier I Tier II Tier III Tier IV Tier VI
After the former employer verifies the prior service for TRS
After the member makes payment to TRS N/A N/A
After the member has completed at least two years of membership service N/A

 

What documentation is necessary to verify prior service?

Documentation should be on the official stationery of the agency you worked for, and should indicate the exact period of service you rendered, your title, and an annual breakdown of your salary history during that period. TRS will review the documentation and notify you of the resolution.

Are leaves of absence without pay creditable in TRS?

For all tiers, credit may be granted for a leave associated with public employment in another New York State or New York City position, or for a leave associated with certain military service. Tier I members may also be eligible to receive credit for leaves associated with restoration of health and certain study leaves. In all cases, before TRS can grant credit for a leave, the member's employer must recommend that service credit be granted.

May I receive pension credit for substitute service I rendered during a leave of absence or after a resignation?

Yes—provided you did not lose your TRS membership rights. This type of service is known as Amman service. If you are a Tier I or II member, you should submit a written request to TRS to claim credit for this service; in most cases, purchase is not required. If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you should submit a Cost Letter Request Form (code SB64); purchase of this service credit is generally required.

Regardless of your tier, before you can receive credit for your Amman service, your service must be verified by TRS and you must return to active service in a TRS-eligible position. In addition, if you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, you must have attained two full years of service credit since becoming a TRS member.

What is Chapter 683 employment?

Under Chapter 683 of the Retirement and Social Security Law, members may be employed under a Special Education Program during the summer that allows Department of Education employees to earn pensionable summer earnings. This employment may increase their Final Average Salary.

How do I find out how much Total Service Credit I have?

You can learn how much Total Service Credit you had as of the end of the previous school year by referring to your most recent Annual Benefits Statement (ABS).

What should I do if I believe there is an error in the amount of service credited to me?

Members in all tiers should write to TRS' Member Status Unit. You will need to provide documentation that verifies your service claim. Documentation should be on the official stationery of the agency you worked for, and should indicate the exact amount of service you rendered, your title, and an annual breakdown of your salary history during this period. TRS will review the documentation, make any necessary revisions, and notify you of the resolution.

Who can I contact to receive verification of my prior service?

To obtain salary information for substitute service rendered with the Department of Education, you may contact the Department of Education at the following office: The Office of Payroll Administration, 65 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

For other questions regarding regular or per diem substitute teaching or secretary service, you may contact the Department of Education at the following office: The Records and Research Division, 65 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

For any questions regarding service as a paraprofessional or school aide, you may write to your school or district.

For questions about prior service rendered with any college or agency, you should contact the employer for which your service was rendered.

What prior service with a New York State or New York City public employer is creditable?

In order to be creditable, prior service with a New York State or City public employer must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The service is otherwise creditable and was rendered while you were employed in a TRS-eligible position but before you enrolled in TRS (e.g., service as an eligible paraprofessional or as a City University of New York (CUNY) adjunct that preceded TRS membership); or
  • The service predates your membership in an eligible New York State or City retirement system, but would have been creditable at the time the service was rendered had you been a member of that retirement system; or
  • Credit was previously granted for the service in an eligible New York State or City retirement system; this service was eligible to be transferred to TRS, but was not because you lost your membership rights with your former retirement system; or
  • The service is otherwise creditable and was rendered while you were ineligible for membership in a public retirement system (e.g., service as a substitute teacher rendered prior to membership eligibility of the substitute teaching title under the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS)).

What is a membership service deficit?

Any pension contributions that are required by TRS, but are not made, would result in a "deficit." Because this deficit represents contributions that should have been made by a TRS member, it is known as a "membership service deficit."

If you have a membership service deficit, TRS will send you a Cost Letter; payment for deficits is mandatory. Your letter will specify the amount due, available payment options, and any consequences that may result if you do not respond by the deadline indicated (e.g., you may be placed automatically on a payment plan of payroll deductions, if eligible).

What is optional service credit?

Optional service credit is any service credit you have the option to claim or purchase. In all cases, your service must be verified by TRS, and your request for the service credit must be made before your effective retirement date. Creditable service includes the following:

Prior Service: Any creditable service you rendered with a New York City and/or New York State public employer before joining TRS that was not transferred to TRS with your membership. (For Tier I members, service rendered outside of New York City is not creditable as prior service. See Outside Teaching Service below.)

Amman Service: Creditable service, such as substitute teaching or per diem service, that you rendered with a New York City or New York State public employer during a leave of absence from your TRS-eligible position or after separating from service. (For Tier I members, service rendered outside of New York City is not creditable as Amman service.)

Military Service: Eligible military service occurring before and/or during your TRS membership.

Outside Teaching Service (Tier I only): Creditable teaching and/or pedagogical supervisory service rendered on a regular per-annum basis in a school or college not maintained by the City of New York.

Leaves of Absence Without Pay: Periods that may be creditable under limited circumstances.

Are there restrictions on purchasing credit for prior service?

Yes. If you are a Tier I member, you may purchase credit for a maximum of 15 years of outside teaching service (i.e., prior service that you rendered with a public employer outside New York City). You must apply for the credit within 4 years of the date you join TRS or attain Tier I status. (For prior service that you rendered with a New York City public employer, purchase is not required; credit is granted upon request and after verification by TRS.)

If you are a Tier II, III, IV, or VI member, there is no limit on the number of years of eligible prior service credit that you may claim or purchase. However, you would receive credit for your prior service only after you have attained at least two full years of service credit since becoming a TRS member. Tier III, IV, and VI members must purchase this credit. (Tier II members are not required to purchase prior service credit; credit is granted upon request and after verification.)

For all tiers, you may receive a maximum of one year's service credit for a given school year (360 calendar days), regardless of the number of positions you held during that year. In addition, you must request your service credit before your effective retirement date.

What are the benefits of purchasing service credit?

One of the benefits of purchasing service credit is the potential increase to your prospective service retirement allowance. If you are not vested, purchasing service credit may enable you to more quickly attain vested rights and qualify for retirement benefits. In addition, if you are a Tier III or IV member, purchasing service credit may also enable you to more quickly attain the years of credited service needed to stop or reduce the contributions you are making to the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP).

Can I change my tier status by purchasing prior service?

The purchase of prior service will not enable you to change your tier status. However, you may be entitled to membership/tier reinstatement if you are in active membership status and previously lost your membership and tier rights in TRS or another New York City or New York State public retirement system.

How am I notified about any membership service deficit I have incurred and/or optional service credit I may purchase?

If you have a membership service deficit, TRS would send you a Cost Letter; payment for deficits is mandatory.

If TRS is aware that you have optional service credit (e.g., prior service credit) eligible for purchase, or if you submitted a request to TRS, we would send you a separate Cost Letter(s).

Your Cost Letter(s) will specify the amount due, available payment options, and any consequences that may result if you do not respond by the deadline indicated (e.g., you may be placed automatically on a payment plan of payroll deductions, if eligible).

What should I do if my Cost Letter did not account for all of my past service?

You must provide TRS with official documentation of this additional service. If TRS determines that this service is creditable and a recalculation is necessary, the amount of your prior service will be modified, and you will be sent a revised Cost Letter.

How can I request prior service credit?

In general, service with a public employer in New York State or New York City may be eligible for prior service credit in TRS.

If you are a Tier III, IV, or VI member, log in to the secure section of our website and complete a Record of Prior Service e-form (code SB146). TRS will verify the service with your former employer and notify you of the cost. (Prior service with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) does not need to be claimed on the e-form because the DOE sends TRS regular work history updates for most titles. We will contact you separately about prior DOE service you have available for crediting.)

If you are a Tier I or II member, you may request credit for prior service by contacting our Member Services Center at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS and requesting a personalized SB146 form.

TRS must receive any claim for prior service credit before your retirement date. However, claiming and purchasing prior service credit sooner rather than later would prevent additional interest from accruing and increasing the cost.

Please note that, if you are in the process of transferring your membership to TRS or applying for a membership/tier reinstatement, you should not request prior service credit until the transfer or reinstatement is complete; the cost (if any) to purchase service credit may be different under a previous membership/tier.

How much does it cost to purchase optional service credit?

The cost varies depending on your tier and the type of service credit you are purchasing. In certain cases, service credit may not require purchase.

If you are a Tier I member purchasing credit for outside teaching service, the cost is determined through actuarial calculations. (Other service credit for Tier I and II members may not require purchase.)

If you are a Tier III or IV member, the cost to purchase service credit reflects the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) contributions that you would have made had the service been rendered as a TRS member. If you are covered under the basic retirement plan, your QPP contribution rate is generally 3%; if you are covered under the Age 55 Retirement Program, your contribution rate is generally 4.85%.

If you are a Tier VI member, the cost to purchase service credit is 6% of the salary you earned during the time the service was rendered.

For most service credit purchases, 5% annual interest is applied to the cost; this represents the interest that would have accrued on your contributions had you been contributing at the time the service was rendered. Interest is generally calculated from the date(s) your service was rendered to the date your payment is due.

What are the payment options for a service purchase?

You may be eligible to pay for a service purchase in a lump sum or through a repayment plan. For the repayment plans, purchases occur through regular payroll deductions. TRS provides your specific options in your Cost Letters, which also indicate the amount of credit available for purchase and the associated cost.

What should I do if I believe an incorrect amount is being taken from my paycheck for service purchase deductions?

If you believe the amount taken from your paycheck for service purchase deductions is incorrect, please contact TRS' Member Status Unit in writing.

May I make a lump-sum payment for membership service deficits and/or optional service credit after payroll deductions have begun?

Yes. However, you must pay for any deficits. Therefore, if you choose to stop your payroll deductions for a membership service deficit, you must pay the entire remaining balance in a lump sum. If you choose to stop your payroll deductions for optional service credit, you may pay the remaining balance or a portion of it with a lump-sum payment or other payment options.

When will the payroll deductions for my service purchase stop?

Generally, service purchase deductions will automatically stop once your repayment plan is completed.

May I choose to stop my payment for membership service deficits and/or optional service credit after payroll deductions have begun?

Yes. However, you must pay for any membership service deficits. Therefore, if you choose to stop your payroll deductions, you must pay the entire remaining balance in a lump sum.

If you are purchasing optional service credit, you may either request to stop the payroll deductions and the entire purchase or you may choose to pay the remaining balance with a different payment option, such as a lump-sum payment.

Statements

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 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 information is included in the Annual Benefits Statement (ABS)?

The ABS provides members with information about their Total Service Credit, benefits eligibility, and designated beneficiary information; benefit estimates and projections are also provided to certain retirement-eligible members. The ABS was designed to help members better understand this information and its relevance to them as TRS members.

What information is included in the Quarterly Account Statement (QAS)?

The QAS 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.

When will I receive my ABS and QAS?

TRS will notify you by email when your latest Annual Benefits Statement (ABS) and Quarterly Account Statement (QAS) are available for viewing in the secure section of our website. The ABS is generally issued each fall. The QAS is issued within two months following the end of each quarter of the calendar year.

Will I still receive an ABS or QAS if I am on a leave of absence?

Yes, provided that your leave of absence has lasted for less than seven school years. If you have been on a leave of absence for more than seven school years, please call or visit our Member Services Center to request account information.

What should I do if I disagree with any of the information in my ABS or QAS?

If you disagree with the information in your ABS, you may access the ABS Inquiry feature in the secure section of our website. As an alternative, you may file a paper ABS Inquiry Form based on your tier (either I/II or III/IV/VI). If you disagree with the information in your QAS, you may file a QAS Inquiry Form (code MA3).

What should I do if I need another copy of my account statement?

You can view your recent Annual Benefits Statements and Quarterly Account Statements in the secure section of our website. These statements are in PDF format for convenient printing. TRS can no longer provide reprints of the Annual Benefits Statement. 

Why does the code "N/A" appear in my ABS or QAS?

There are several reasons why the N/A (Not Available) code may appear in your ABS or QAS. N/A will appear if any of the following information was entered into our computer system incorrectly or is unavailable: prior or Amman service, contribution rate, date of birth, membership date, gender, ITHP for 1968, salary at membership date, or excess information. N/A may also be displayed if your TRS records were not updated by the close of the reporting period, or if you had multiple TRS accounts. In addition, N/A (Not Applicable) may appear if a specific section(s) of the ABS or QAS is not applicable to you.

What should I do if my date of birth is incorrect in my ABS or QAS?

You should write to TRS to have this information corrected. When submitting your written request, please remember to include proof-of-birth documentation (e.g., birth certificate, passport, Naturalization document).

My beneficiary's name is misspelled in my ABS. Can I change it?

Yes. You may do so by accessing the Beneficiaries feature in the secure section of our website or writing to TRS to request a correction. You may also call our Member Services Center at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS, or visit the Walk-In Center on the 2nd floor of 55 Water Street in lower Manhattan. Please note that if your beneficiary is a TRS member or if you have an affidavit or court order on file with TRS, you may not change the beneficiary's name online.

Why does the total service indicated in my ABS differ from what is shown on the Total Service Letter that I received from TRS?

A member may have additional or modified service credit that may not be represented in the ABS. In most cases, the modified service was calculated manually and was updated in our system after the ABS was printed. Members should consider their Total Service Letter official verification of their service credit.

I am a Tier I member who elected Plan A on my enrollment application or retirement plan election form, but Plan B is indicated in my ABS. Or, I am a Tier II member who elected Plan C on my enrollment application or retirement plan election form, but Plan D is indicated in my ABS. How can this be corrected?

If you meet the requirements for Plan A or C, and if you filed an enrollment application or a retirement plan election form electing Plan A or C within two years of your appointment, please write to TRS to have the information on the ABS corrected.

Please note, however, that until Tier I members meet the requirements for Plan A, the benefit estimate provided on their ABS will be based on Plan B. Until Tier II members meet the requirements for Plan C, the benefit estimate provided on their ABS will be based on Plan D.

TDA Program

What is TRS' Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program?

TRS' TDA Program is a voluntary investment plan that allows you to save extra money for your retirement. Taxes are deferred on your TDA contributions and investment earnings until you receive these amounts as income. Upon retiring, you may receive your TDA funds in various ways, including as an annuity separate from your QPP retirement allowance.

What are the benefits of participating in the TDA Program?

TRS' TDA Program enables you to invest money for your future consistently on a tax-deferred basis. By contributing, you may reduce your taxable income and your current tax liability. For example, you will not pay any taxes on your contributions or your earnings until you withdraw your funds.

In addition to these benefits of tax-deferred investing, our TDA Program offers:

  • Flexibility: Six diverse investment options
  • Convenience: Contributions deducted automatically from your pay
  • Loan availability: Access to your TDA money before retirement
  • Online access: Account management on our website

What is the difference between an IRA and a Section 403(b) Program like TRS' TDA Program?

There are several key differences.

  • While IRAs are generally available to all investors, Section 403(b) Programs are only available to employees of educational institutions, hospitals, and certain other tax-exempt organizations.
  • Another key difference is the maximum amount that you can contribute to each plan: The maximum annual TDA contribution limit is generally higher than the maximum annual IRA contribution amount.
  • A third difference involves tax benefits: Under the TDA Program, taxes are deferred on your contributions and the investment earnings you receive; the tax benefits of IRA contributions vary based on the type of IRA plan you choose and the amount of your income.
  • A fourth difference is the withdrawal restrictions for these plans. Please consult your tax advisor for more information.

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).

What is the most I may contribute to the TDA Program in a given year?

TDA contribution limits are established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year; for 2017, the contribution limit is generally $18,000. (However, you may be eligible to make additional "catch-up" contributions. See What are 'catch-up' contributions? FAQ below.) Your individual TDA contribution limit for the calendar year is indicated on your personalized TDA Enrollment Form (code TD1) or TDA Contribution Rate Change Form (code TD4), or online equivalents.

Please note that the IRS limits are applied cumulatively to contributions made to Section 403(b) Plans (like TRS' TDA Program) and Section 401(k) Plans. Therefore, if you also contribute to other Section 403(b) and 401(k) Plans, you are responsible for ensuring that your aggregate contributions do not exceed the IRS limits.

What are "catch-up" contributions?

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) establishes limits on TDA contributions. However, certain individuals may be eligible to make additional contributions—called "catch-up" contributions. You may be eligible to make "catch-up" contributions if one of the following applies to you:

  • If you are 50 years or older: You may invest up to an additional $6,000 per year.
  • If you have 15 years of qualifying City employment (and you have contributed an average of $5,000 or less per year): You may contribute up to an additional $3,000 per year in "catch-up" contributions, up to a total of $15,000 over your lifetime.

When will my TDA deductions take effect?

In general, your deductions would take effect with the first payroll that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives your elections through the TDA feature in the secure section of our website, or paper form: the TDA Enrollment Form (code TD1) for new participants, and the TDA Contribution Rate Change Form (code TD4) for current TDA participants.

TDA participants may also change their contribution rates through the online TDA feature or by filing a paper TDA Contribution Rate Change Form. Any contribution rate change you make would take effect with the first payroll that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives your form or online request. However, if you change your contribution rate during the fall enrollment period, your election would generally take effect with the first payroll of the following year.

Will I have TDA deductions from my summer pay?

Yes. TDA deductions are taken out of summer pay.

What will happen to my TDA deductions if I take a leave of absence?

Your TDA deductions will stop while you're on a leave of absence; however, your TDA funds will continue to earn the appropriate investment return, based on your investment elections.

How does TRS determine my Full-Year, Full-Contribution Rate?

The Full-Year, Full-Contribution Rate allows you to contribute the highest allowable amount to your TDA account, by contributing at a steady rate during each pay period of a calendar year.

To calculate this rate for you each year, TRS first determines your individual contribution limit (in dollars). Using IRS guidelines, we determine if the general limit on TDA contributions applies, or if you are eligible for "catch-up" contributions beyond the general limit.

Then, using the latest salary information on file for you and your number of pay periods per calendar year, TRS determines the contribution rate (the percentage of salary) that would allow you to reach your contribution limit at the end of the year after 12 months of steady contribution.

The result is your Full-Year, Full-Contribution Rate, which may change from year to year due to changes in your salary and/or IRS limits.

If I stop contributing to the Qualified Pension Plan, would my maximum TDA contribution amount increase?

No. Your maximum TDA contribution amount is set by federal law.

How may I stop my TDA contributions?

You may stop contributing to the TDA Program at any time by accessing the TDA feature in the secure section of our website, or by filing a paper TDA Contribution Rate Change Form (code TD4). Your contributions would stop with the first payroll that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives your election.

Generally, once your TDA contributions have stopped, you may access the TDA feature or file a paper TDA Contribution Rate Change Form at any time to resume contributing. However, if you have been approved for a TDA hardship withdrawal, your TDA contributions would stop for six months. You would be eligible to resume TDA contributions when this six-month cessation ends.

You may obtain forms by accessing the Forms section of our website.

Can I make lump-sum deposits to my TDA account?

No. There are only two ways to deposit funds into your TDA account:

  • You may make contributions through regular payroll deductions; and
  • You may be eligible to transfer your funds from another eligible Section 403(b) Program into TRS' TDA Program.

How are my TDA contributions invested?

If you are enrolling in the TDA Program for the first time, you may elect how to invest your future TDA contributions by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper TDA Enrollment Form (code TD1). If you are already a TDA participant, you may elect how to invest your future TDA contributions and any past TDA accumulations by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper TDA Investment Election Change Form (code TD45) on a quarterly basis. Investing in 5% multiples, you may choose any combination of TRS' Passport Funds.

How can I change the way my TDA contributions are invested?

In-service TDA participants, members with TDA Deferral status, and TDA annuitants may change their TDA investment elections four times a year. Investment election changes take place on the following conversion dates: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

In-service TDA participants may change their investment elections for their future TDA contributions and/or past TDA accumulations by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper TDA Investment Election Change Form (code TD45) at any time; their elections would take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 30 days after TRS receives their form or online request.

Members with TDA Deferral status may change their investment elections for their TDA accumulations by logging in to the secure section of our website or by filing a paper TDA Investment Election Change Form (code TD45) at any time; their elections would take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 30 days after TRS receives their form or online request.

TDA annuitants may change their investment elections for their TDA accumulations by filing a paper TDA Annuitant's Investment Election Change Form (code RP9) at any time; their elections would take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives their form.

Why didn't my TDA investment election changes take effect in my account?

In general, TDA investment election changes made by in-service TDA participants and members with TDA Deferral status take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 30 days after TRS receives their form or online request. If your elections have not taken effect in that time frame, then TRS may not have received your TDA Investment Election Change Form (code TD45) or online request, at least 30 days before the next conversion date. In such a case, your elections would take effect on the following conversion date.

In general, TDA investment election changes made by TDA annuitants take effect on the next conversion date that occurs at least 60 days after TRS receives their form. If your elections have not taken effect in that time frame, then TRS may not have received your TDA Annuitant's Investment Election Change Form (code RP9) at least 60 days before the next conversion date. In such a case, your elections would take effect on the following conversion date.

Can I stop investment election changes already in progress?

In-service Tier I and II members under the QPP, all in-service TDA participants, and members with TDA Deferral status may file a new investment election change form or online equivalent; in this case, any 6-, 9-, or 12-month conversions in progress but not yet completed would stop as of the date the new election takes effect. However, any 1- and 3-month conversions in progress cannot be stopped because they would be completed by the next effective date.

For Tier I and II retirees under the QPP and all TDA Annuitants, in-progress conversions cannot be canceled before they are completed. However, they may submit a new investment election change form to make investment elections for any portion of their QPP or TDA funds that have not been affected by any in-progress investment election changes.

What are my TDA options if I resign or my service is terminated?

If you leave service after attaining vested rights under the QPP, you may withdraw your TDA funds or you may elect TDA Deferral status. If you leave service before attaining vested rights under the QPP, you may withdraw your TDA funds at any time. If you leave your TDA funds with TRS, they would continue to accrue investment return for seven school years. However, if you withdraw your QPP funds, your TDA participation would automatically end, and TRS would distribute the value of your TDA account to you.

If I retire with deferred payability, may I withdraw my TDA funds before reaching my payability date under the Qualified Pension Plan?

Yes. You may do so by filing a TDA Withdrawal Application (code TD32) or online equivalent.

What are my TDA options if I retire from active service?

On your QPP retirement application, you must decide how your TDA funds will be distributed. You may receive your TDA funds as an annuity separate from your QPP retirement allowance. You may instead elect TDA Deferral status, and thereby defer distribution of your TDA funds past the initial payability date of your QPP retirement allowance. A third choice is to make a Direct Withdrawal, Direct Rollover, or Direct Transfer^ of all or part of your TDA funds; if you make a partial withdrawal, you may annuitize or defer your balance. For more information, please see the TDA Options at Retirement brochure.

^Please note that, as a result of new IRS regulations governing Section 403(b) Programs, Direct Transfers are currently not available to TDA participants. On the advice of outside tax counsel, TRS has suspended all processing of Direct Transfers pending further clarification from the IRS.

Can I receive an estimate of the amount I would receive per month if I annuitized my TDA funds?

While TRS is unable to provide an estimate at this time, you may contact your union in this regard.

May I make a Direct Withdrawal from my TDA account while I am an in-service member?

By filing a TDA Withdrawal Application (code TD32) or online equivalent, you may directly withdraw the money that was in your TDA account before December 31, 1988 at any time. You may withdraw money that was added after 1988 only in the following situations: after you reach 59½; after you separate from service; or in the event of a hardship. You may obtain forms through our website or by calling TRS' Member Services Center at 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS.

For more information, please see the What are the tax consequences of making a Direct Withdrawal? FAQ under the TDA Program tab in the Withdrawals/Distributions category.

For more information, please see the What are the eligibility requirements for a hardship withdrawal? FAQ under the TDA Program tab in the Withdrawals/Distributions category.

Will my TDA funds continue to receive investment return and/or interest after I retire?

If you elect TDA Deferral status or annuitize your TDA funds, your TDA funds would receive investment return and/or interest based on your investment elections. You may change your investment elections four times each year.

What are the benefits of electing TDA Deferral status?

Retiring is a stressful time for many members, in part because they must make several critical decisions. By electing TDA Deferral status, you avoid making one of those difficult decisions because you can delay deciding whether you should annuitize your TDA funds, or withdraw them. Leaving your TDA funds invested with TRS also enables you to avoid paying taxes on your funds and any future investment return until a later date. A further benefit is that you may maintain an existing TDA loan and may be eligible to take out a new TDA loan.

 

Withdrawals/Distributions

May I withdraw my QPP funds after separating from service?

You may withdraw your QPP funds in the following cases:

  • You are a non-vested member in any tier;
  • You are a vested Tier I or II member;
  • You are a vested Tier III or IV member who has at least five, but less than ten, years of TRS membership service.

QPP funds available for withdrawal would include:

  • For Tiers I and II members—Your Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) balance.
  • For Tiers III, IV, and VI members—Your Member Contributions Accumulation Fund (MCAF) and your Annuity Savings Accumulation Fund (ASAF) balances.

If you are a Tier II, III, or IV member who participated in the Age 55 Retirement Program and you were laid off from your TRS-eligible position for reasons of economic hardship, you may also withdraw the balance in the employee portion of the Additional Member Contributions (AMCs) you made under this program (less any deficits in the employer portion of your AMCs). For all other members, AMCs are not refundable.

No partial withdrawals are allowed. To withdraw your funds, you must file an Application for Withdrawal of QPP Accumulations (code RW41) . If you elect to directly roll over all or part of the taxable portion of your withdrawal to one or more eligible Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) or other successor programs, you must attach a completed QPP Direct Rollover Election Form (code RW29) with your QPP withdrawal application. In all cases, the tax-free portion of your withdrawal will be paid directly to you.

If you withdraw your QPP funds and are a participant in TRS' Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program, you must also withdraw your TDA funds.

If I withdraw my QPP funds after resignation or termination, what are the implications for my TRS membership?

Once you withdraw your funds from TRS, your current membership will cease. If, at a later date, you are reappointed to a TRS-eligible position, you would be treated as a new member and placed in the tier for new members.

If I withdraw my QPP funds, what would be the tax consequences?

The taxable portion of any withdrawn QPP funds is taxable upon receipt and would be reported to the IRS. The IRS requires that TRS withhold 20% of any taxable amount you withdraw unless you instruct TRS to directly roll over the amount into an eligible IRA(s) or other successor program(s). An additional IRS-imposed 10% tax would apply unless the withdrawal is made: a) in conjunction with your separation from service during or after the year in which you attain age 55; or b) during or after the year you attain age 59½; or c) as a qualified hardship withdrawal; or d) in conjunction with your disability retirement; or e) by your beneficiary in conjunction with a death benefit payment.

Can TRS estimate the amount of the payment if I withdraw my QPP funds?

Yes. If you have officially resigned and have filed the Application for Withdrawal of QPP Accumulations (code RW41), you may submit a written request for an estimate of your account balance. However, this request may delay the actual processing of your withdrawal application.

May I roll over my withdrawal of QPP funds?

Yes. You may transfer the taxable portion of your withdrawal to another eligible Section 401 Plan or an IRA account. To do so, you must file a QPP Direct Rollover Election Form (code RW29) in conjunction with your withdrawal application. Any amount that is distributed through a Direct Rollover is not taxable until it is received as income, and you would not be subject to the 20% withholding tax that applies to direct withdrawals. In addition, you would not have to pay the additional 10% tax that applies to some direct withdrawals.

May I leave my QPP funds at TRS after separating from service?

Yes. If you are a vested member, you would be eligible to begin receiving retirement allowance checks at age 55. If you are a nonvested member, your funds would continue to gain investment return for seven school years and, during that time, you may obtain another TRS-eligible position that enables you to maintain your membership.

Who is eligible to receive an excess withdrawal?

If you are a Tier I-Plan A member or a Tier II-Plan C member, and you have completed at least 20 years of qualifying service, you may be eligible to receive an excess withdrawal. If you qualify, you may withdraw all or part of your funds that exceed your Minimum Accumulation; this includes your contributions in the Annuity Savings Fund and the earnings on those contributions. To withdraw your funds, file an Excess Withdrawal Application (code RW74) .

How often may I make an excess withdrawal?

In general, you must wait at least one year after receiving an excess withdrawal before you are eligible to apply for another. However, in conjunction with retirement, you may apply for an excess withdrawal regardless of when you made your last excess withdrawal.

How long will it take before I receive my excess withdrawal?

Excess Withdrawal Applications are processed in the order that they are received, and are usually processed within two to three months after TRS' receipt of an application. However, if the necessary salary and service information is not available, processing could take substantially longer. If you file for an excess withdrawal in conjunction with retirement, you generally would receive your withdrawal at about the same time that you receive your first retirement allowance payment.

How would an excess withdrawal impact my retirement allowance?

Taking an excess withdrawal would reduce your Annuity Savings Fund balance. As a result, you would receive a lower retirement allowance than you otherwise would have.

If I apply for an excess withdrawal in conjunction with my retirement, would I receive my excess withdrawal and my first retirement allowance payment at the same time?

TRS makes every effort to synchronize the two payments. However, since retirement payroll must be coordinated with the New York City Comptroller's Office, there is a chance that the retirement allowance payment will be issued before, or after, the date that TRS issues the excess withdrawal payment. Please note that, if you retired under deferred payability, your excess withdrawal would generally be issued before your first retirement allowance payment.

How would an excess withdrawal impact my ability to take a loan?

Taking an excess withdrawal would not impact your loan eligibility. However, it would reduce the amount available for a future QPP loan.

What are the tax consequences of an excess withdrawal?

Any pre-1987 contributions in your excess funds are tax-free; however, any other excess amounts are taxable upon receipt and would be reported to the IRS. The IRS requires that TRS withhold 20% of any taxable amount you withdraw unless you instruct TRS to directly roll over the amount into an eligible IRA(s) or other successor program(s). An additional IRS-imposed 10% tax would apply unless the withdrawal is made: a) in conjunction with your separation from service during or after the year in which you attain age 55; or b) during or after the year you attain age 59½; or c) as a qualified hardship withdrawal; or d) in conjunction with your disability retirement; or e) by your beneficiary in conjunction with a death benefit payment.

May I roll over my excess withdrawal?

Yes. You may transfer the taxable portion of your withdrawal to another eligible Section 401 Plan or an IRA account. To do so, you must file a QPP Direct Rollover Election Form (code RW29) in conjunction with your withdrawal application. Any amount that is distributed through a Direct Rollover is not taxable until it is received as income, and you would not be subject to the 20% withholding tax that applies to direct withdrawals. In addition, you would not have to pay the additional 10% tax that applies to some direct withdrawals. Please note that the minimum amount for a QPP rollover is generally $200.

Is there an advantage to leaving my excess funds in my account, rather than making an excess withdrawal?

An excess withdrawal reduces your Annuity Savings Fund balance, which results in a smaller retirement allowance. Therefore, leaving excess funds in your account would result in a relatively larger retirement allowance.

What are the eligibility requirements for a hardship withdrawal?

You may request to withdraw all or part of your post-1988 TDA contributions if a sudden and heavy financial hardship leaves you unable to reasonably meet certain expenses, and other TRS resources (such as loans and excess funds) are unavailable to you. As defined in the Internal Revenue Code, hardship conditions include certain medical expenses, funeral expenses, post-secondary school tuition for you or a dependent, payment to prevent eviction or foreclosure, and the purchase of a principal residence. To apply for a hardship withdrawal, you may file a TDA Hardship Withdrawal Application (code TD44) , which you may obtain by accessing our website, or calling 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS.

Please note that if you are approved for a hardship withdrawal, your TDA contributions would cease for a period of six months. To resume your TDA contributions after the six-month cessation period has ended, please access our website's TDA Contribution Rate Change feature, or file a hardcopy TDA Contribution Rate Change Form (code TD4). You may obtain this form by accessing our website, or calling 1 (888) 8-NYC-TRS.

Do I have to take a loan before I can apply for a hardship withdrawal of my TDA funds?

Yes. You would not be eligible for a hardship withdrawal unless you have maximized all other available TRS resources. These include any pre-1989 funds; QPP and TDA loans; and if you are a Tier I or Tier II member, any excess Annuity Savings Fund (ASF) accumulations.

How long does it take TRS to approve an application for a hardship withdrawal?

A decision on your application should be made approximately 60 days after the end of the month in which TRS receives your TDA Hardship Withdrawal Application (code TD44) .

What are the tax consequences of making a Direct Withdrawal?

Direct Withdrawals of TDA funds are generally taxable. Other than hardship withdrawals, TRS is required to withhold 20% of any taxable amount over $200 you withdraw and do not instruct TRS to directly roll over to an eligible successor program(s). If you receive a Direct Withdrawal and do not roll over the distribution within 60 days of the withdrawal check, the withdrawal would generally be federally taxable and may be subject to state and local taxes. The IRS may impose an additional 10% tax on all Direct Withdrawals unless the withdrawal is made: a) in conjunction with your separation from service during or after the year in which you attain age 55; or b) during or after the year you attain age 59½; or c) as a qualified hardship withdrawal; or d) in conjunction with your disability retirement; or e) by your beneficiary in conjunction with a death benefit payment.

TRS suggests that you consult with your tax advisor should you have any specific tax questions.

When can I expect to receive my TDA withdrawal?

TRS would issue your distribution of TDA funds as follows:

  • For partial withdrawals drawn only from your balance in the Fixed Return Fund: Generally within 15 days of TRS' receipt of your withdrawal request.
  • For all other withdrawals: Generally within 45 days of TRS' receipt of your withdrawal request.

How are Direct Rollovers and Direct Transfers different from Direct Withdrawals?

If you make a Direct Withdrawal, TRS sends the withdrawn amount directly to you. If you make a Direct Rollover, TRS sends the withdrawn amount directly to the IRS-qualified Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) or other eligible successor program that you elect. Unlike Direct Withdrawals, Direct Rollovers are not subject to current taxes and penalties. If you make a Direct Transfer, TRS sends the withdrawn amount directly to the IRS-qualified Section 403(b) Program that you elect. However, as a result of new IRS regulations governing Section 403(b) Programs, TRS, on the advice of outside tax counsel, has suspended all processing of Direct Transfers pending further clarification from the IRS.

What unit value will be used to calculate a TDA withdrawal?

In most cases, the unit values used would be the unit values in effect for the month after TRS' receipt of your TDA Withdrawal Application (code TD32) or online equivalent.

How does EFT work?

By the last day of every month, the City of New York will transmit your payment to your financial institution for deposit in your designated account. Under the EFT system, you will no longer receive a check stub, but you will receive an EFT Quarterly Statement detailing your monthly payments. In addition, you will be able to view payment details each month after logging on to our website.

The monthly transactions will also appear on statements from your financial institution. (Note that statements from your financial institution will reflect the date a payment was credited, whereas TRS statements will reflect the date a payment was disbursed.)

Is EFT available for payments other than retirement benefits?

EFT is available for other payments, as noted below.

If you are an in-service member paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit, you may elect to receive QPP loans or QPP direct withdrawals via EFT in the same account where you receive your pay. You would automatically receive a TDA loan or TDA direct withdrawal via EFT, unless you elect to receive these distributions by check.

If you are a retiree with TDA Deferral status and you are receiving your retirement allowance via EFT, you would automatically receive a TDA loan and TDA direct withdrawal via EFT in the same account where you receive your benefit payments, unless you elect to receive these distributions by check. You would automatically receive a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) via EFT.

How can I initiate EFT at retirement?

If you are currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit for work in a position that entitles you to TRS membership: You will be automatically enrolled to receive your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) via EFT. You do not need to do anything; these payments will be automatically deposited in your account via EFT. However, if you want your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) to be deposited via EFT in a different account, you must file an EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66).

If you are currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit for work in a position that does not entitle you to TRS membership (e.g., substitute or per diem teacher): You must file an EFT Election at Retirement Form if you want your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) to be deposited via EFT.

If you are not currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit: You must file an EFT Election at Retirement Form if you want your monthly benefit payments (including advance payments) deposited via EFT.

If you do not want your monthly benefit payments paid via EFT: You must file an Opt Out of EFT at Retirement Form (code BK67). (You may subsequently initiate EFT at any time by filing an EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) with TRS.

Retiring TRS members who are not currently paid on the City of New York payroll through direct deposit MUST file either an EFT Election at Retirement Form or an Opt Out of EFT at Retirement Form in order to receive their advance and/or regular retirement allowance payments. Failure to file one of these forms would result in a delay in the payment of benefits.

These two forms are available on request from our Member Services Center (not from our website). Members who are retiring should speak with a Member Services Representative for more information about EFT.

On what day will funds be deposited in my account under EFT?

Under the EFT system, funds are deposited in your account on the day the payment is issued. Monthly benefit payments, withdrawals, and other distributions are generally issued by the last day of each month. In order for a loan payment to be forwarded to your account via EFT by a given Friday, TRS must generally receive your loan application by the close of business on Wednesday of the preceding week. All payments deposited via EFT are available for immediate withdrawal.

Can one EFT Authorization Form or EFT Election at Retirement Form be filed to receive both QPP retirement allowance payments and TDA annuity payments through EFT?

Yes, as long as the payments are to be deposited in the same account. You must indicate this on your EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) or EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66).

May different types of monthly benefit payments be deposited in different accounts?

Yes, by filing a separate EFT Authorization Form (code BK58) or EFT Election at Retirement Form (code BK66), as applicable, for each account.

Please note that you cannot submit an EFT Authorization Form or EFT Election at Retirement Form in order to receive a QPP or TDA loan via EFT. QPP and TDA loans can be distributed electronically only if you are already receiving your paychecks through direct deposit or retirement allowance payments through EFT.

On the EFT Authorization Form (or EFT Election at Retirement Form, if applicable) should I check off "savings" or "checking" if my EFT will be made to a money market account?

Members should contact their bank to determine if the money market account is considered a checking or a savings account.

When does TRS mail out 1099 Forms?

1099 Forms for a given year are generally issued by the following January 31.

May I view my 1099 Forms online?

Members with active TRS accounts who received a lump-sum distribution from TRS may view their current 1099 Forms online by logging in to the secure section of our website. (However, if a 1099 Form was corrected in a given year, members would be unable to view either the original form or the corrected form online.) Please note that TRS will continue to mail paper forms, including corrected forms, to all members. If you have any questions about the distributions reported on your online or hardcopy 1099 Forms, please file a 1099-R/1099-INT Inquiry Form (code GA5) with TRS.

What is reported on the 1099 Forms?

TRS issues a separate 1099-R Form for each of the following types of distributions:

  • Taxable excess withdrawals, including those taken at retirement;
  • Defaulted loans and taxable loans taken at retirement;
  • Advance payments from the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP);
  • Retirement allowance payments from the QPP;
  • Annuity payments from the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Program;
  • TDA and QPP Direct Withdrawals and Direct Rollovers;
  • TDA Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs);
  • Death benefit payments;
  • Lump-sum disability payments;
  • Withdrawals of funds upon separation from service; and
  • Refunds of erroneous contributions.

Generally, TRS issues a separate 1099-INT Form for any interest payments associated with a distribution listed above. However, the full amount of any Direct Rollover is reported on a 1099-R Form, including any portion of the Direct Rollover that is attributable to interest.

Why was I issued more than one 1099-R?

A separate 1099-R Form must be issued for each distribution from TRS.

Why was I issued a 1099-R even though I rolled over my funds?

TRS must issue a 1099-R Form even if a distribution was rolled over.

May I receive a duplicate 1099 Form?

Yes. You may request a duplicate 1099 Form by filing a 1099-R/1099-INT Inquiry Form (code GA5) with TRS. Duplicates are usually processed within 15 business days after TRS' receipt of your request.

Members with active TRS accounts who received a lump-sum distribution from TRS in the past two years may also request a duplicate of the associated 1099 Form online by logging in to the secure section of our website. However, if a 1099 Form was corrected in a given year, members would be unable to view either the original form or the corrected form online.

Of the sum represented on the 1099-R Form, which portion is tax-free and which portion is taxable?

The tax-free amount is listed in box #5; the taxable amount is listed in box #2a.

What does "not determined" mean on the 1099 Form?

"Not determined" is an indication that not all of the facts are available to figure the taxable amount. If you are a retiree, your Benefits Letter may help you calculate the amount. You may also wish to consult the following IRS publications: #571—Tax-Sheltered Annuity Programs for Employees of Public Schools and Certain Tax-Exempt Organizations; #575—Pension and Annuity Income; #590—Individual Retirement Arrangements; #721—Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits; and #939—Pension General Rules.

Why didn't I receive a 1099 Form from TRS?

TRS may not have made a taxable or tax-deferred distribution to you or on your behalf during the year. However, if you received a distribution, or if TRS processed a direct rollover of your QPP and/or TDA funds during the year, you should have received a 1099 Form. If you changed your address without notifying TRS, the 1099 Form would have been sent to your previous address.

You may update your permanent address with TRS by logging in to the secure section of our website, or by filing a paper Member's Change of Address Form (code DM13) with TRS.

Members with active TRS accounts who received a lump-sum distribution from TRS in the previous year may view their current 1099 Forms online by logging in to the secure section of our website. In addition, they can request a duplicate copy for any of their current 1099 Forms. However, if a 1099 Form was corrected in a given year, members would be unable to view either the original form or the corrected form online.