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Serving New York Educators Since 1921

You Deserve the Credit

Why and How to Build Your Service Credit

Credit for Member Service | Transferred Service | Reinstated Service
Prior Service | Military Service | Other Service
Benefit Enhancement (Article 19) | Contact NYSTRS

teacher and studentIt is important to make sure you have all the service credit for which you are eligible because it may affect when your benefits begin and how much you will receive.  Here's how:

When. Throughout your career, the amount of service credit you have will determine your eligibility for benefits. These include vesting rights, disability retirement, death benefits and loans. In addition, with 10 years of membership or service credit, Tier 3 and 4 members can stop making 3% member contributions toward their retirement.

How Much. Service credit is used to determine your pension factor, a primary component of the formula used to calculate your retirement benefit. Additional credit will increase the pension factor. The formula used to calculate your benefit is: Pension Factor x Age Factor (if applicable) x Final Average Salary = Your Maximum Annual Pension.

Ways to earn service credit include:

  • Working for a NYSTRS participating employer.
  • Transferring credit from another New York State public retirement system.
  • Reinstating to an earlier date of membership.
  • Receiving credit for:
    • Prior service
    • Military service (as allowed by law)
    • Benefit Enhancement (Article 19)
      (Tiers 1 and 2 only)

In most cases, receiving additional service credit does not change your date of membership or tier. Exceptions are if it is credited as a membership reinstatement or transfer, both of which are addressed in this pamphlet. You cannot receive credit for federal government employment or non-public school teaching, except for a charter school participating in NYSTRS.

Credit for Member Service

ImageThe number of days of service credit earned in a given school year (July 1-June 30) is the actual number of paid work or paid leave days (or parts thereof) reported to the System by participating employers. You can receive a maximum of one year of credit within a school year. To receive credit for part-time, partial year or substitute teaching, you must have worked the equivalent of at least 20 full days in a school year. Days of service are then converted into months of credit as follows:

Days Per Year
Under 20 days
  1 month
  2 months
  3 months
  4 months
Days Per Year
  5 months
  6 months
  7 months
  8 months
  9 months
  9 months
   1 year

Service in private or parochial schools, for the federal government, or in armed forces dependent schools is not creditable in NYSTRS under any tier.

Review your NYSTRS Benefit Profile carefully each year to verify your service credit and salary information — the basis for your NYSTRS benefits — have been correctly reported to us by your employer(s). If you notice an error, ask your employer to correct the records and to submit the revision to NYSTRS. Correcting any misinformation now will help expedite the processing of your benefits in the future.

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Transferred Service

If you are currently a member of another New York State public retirement system and no longer work in employment reportable to that system, you may transfer service and membership from the other system to NYSTRS. Your service credit, member contributions (if any) and original date of membership may be transferable. However, you cannot receive more than one year of credit within a school year if your service was concurrent. Before deciding, you should contact both systems to discuss how a transfer could affect your benefits. You cannot transfer to or from an out-of-state public retirement system.

The calculation of your retirement benefit will have no restrictions as a result of transferred service if, when you retire, you have at least three years of NYSTRS service credit or three years have elapsed since the date you requested a transfer. For an explanation of when limits apply, please contact us.

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Reinstated Service

If you had a previous membership in this System or any other New York State public retirement system, you are eligible to reinstate to your earlier date of membership. You will receive the service credited under that membership, provided it is not credited to another system, along with any possible advantages of an earlier tier.

There is no deadline or window to file for reinstatement. However, applying early in your career has its benefits. For example, if you are reinstated from Tier 3-6 to Tier 1 or 2, your contributions (if any) will cease only after the form is filed and your eligibility is confirmed.

Reinstatement Cost
If you are reinstated to a former Tier 1 or 2 membership, there will be no cost and you will not be required to make member contributions. However, if you are reinstated to a former Tier 3-5 membership, you will be required to repay, in a lump sum with interest, the amount refunded from the previous membership.

How to Apply
You must file an Election to Reinstate (RIS-1) form with NYSTRS. There is no deadline or window to file for reinstatement. NYSTRS forms can be obtained on the Forms page at www.nystrs.org or by calling (800) 782-0289. It may take a year or more to finalize your reinstatement.

If you are reinstating from Tier 3 or 4 to Tier 1 or 2 and you do not have 10 years of membership or service credit, your contributions will cease only after the election is filed and your eligibility is confirmed.

IRS Section 401(a)(17)
NYSTRS' position on Section 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code is that members who last joined the System prior to July 1, 1996 and are reinstated to an earlier date of membership will not be subject to the Sec. 401(a)(17) compensation limits. This is of particular importance to those members who were reinstated to Tier 1 and are eligible for a five-year final average salary. For more information on this section of law, contact us at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6250.

There are some situations where reinstatement may not be to your advantage. If you can purchase credit for prior service in addition to being reinstated to a former membership, the timing of your actions is extremely important. Carefully review the information found on the Election to Reinstate (RIS-1) form and call us at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6070.

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Prior Service

Prior service is New York State public service completed before your current date of membership in this System. There are two categories of prior service: New York State and out of state. 

Service Previously Credited in a NYS Public Retirement System
Members of all tiers are eligible to receive credit for prior service completed under a former membership in:

  • This System;
  • The New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System;
  • The New York City Teachers' Retirement System; or,
  • Any other New York State (including New York City) public retirement system.

Prior NYS Service Not Credited to a Membership
Members of all tiers may receive credit for work prior to their date of membership that would have been creditable in a New York State public retirement system. This includes partial year(s), part-time and substitute teaching. Applying for prior service early in your career may save you money.

The granting of prior service credit does not automatically change a member's date of membership. However, once a member pays for prior service and it is credited by the System, if the member had a previous membership in another New York State public retirement system the member may request a review of her/his file to determine eligibility for an earlier date of membership.

Out-of-State Prior Service
Tier 1 members may receive credit, up to a maximum of 10 years, for teaching in the public schools and colleges of another state if they will not receive a benefit for that service from another state or the federal government. You can only receive credit for employment that occurred before your current date of membership in this System. Any portion of this credit that causes you to exceed 35 years of total service credit is excluded from the pension calculation.

Tier 2 members may receive credit for out-of-state service only if it had been credited under a previous Tier 1 membership in NYSTRS.

Tier 3-6 members cannot receive credit for service in another state.

Prior Service Cost
Tiers 1 and 2: Prior service is cost-free.

Tiers 3 and 4: The cost is 3% of salary received during the period of the service. In addition, Tier 4 members must pay interest of 5%. Tier 3 members must pay 5% interest only on service under a former Tier 3 membership.

Tier 5: The cost is 3.5% of salary received during the period of service plus 5% interest.

Tier 6: The cost is 6% of salary received during the period of service plus 5% interest.

How to Apply

MyNYSTRS account holders have the convenience of submitting and tracking their claim online. If you did not have credit for the service under an earlier membership, upon submitting the claim online you will be directed to print the applicable verification of salary and service form. Complete Part 1 and send it to your former employer for completion. It is the employer’s responsibility to submit the form to NYSTRS.

Alternatively, you can print a Prior Service Claim (PRS-2) form from our website or call our forms Hotline at (800) 782-0289 to request one. If applicable, you must send your former employer the applicable verification form as described above.

After you earn two years of service credit under your present membership and make any required payment, you will receive the prior service credit. Priority is given to those who are retiring and Tier 4 members who will be eligible to end mandatory contributions as a result of the additional service. Members are urged to submit their claims early.

Once a claim has been verified and fully processed, those with a MyNYSTRS account can see how much it will cost to purchase the service by selecting the Service Credit tab and then clicking on Cost Summary. In addition to seeing how much it will cost to purchase the service immediately, you'll also be able to see how delaying the purchase will impact your costs.

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Military Service

Two types of service credit are available for active military duty: service preceding NYSTRS membership and service interrupting NYSTRS membership. In all cases, honorable discharge documentation is required as verification of military service. There are limits to how much credit you can receive. Following is a brief overview; please refer to our publication Claiming Military Service for additional information about obtaining military service credit.

Service Preceding NYSTRS Membership
You may be eligible for credit if you: a) are a full-time or part-time member, or are a member who retired on or after Dec. 21, 1998; and b) were in active military service prior to joining NYSTRS; and c) have at least five years of service credit since the date you last entered our System; and d) meet at least one of the following requirements.

You served during one or more of the following military periods:
  • World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946)
  • Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam Era (Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975)

                                    OR —

You received the Armed Forces, Navy or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal for service in:

  • Lebanon (June 1, 1983 to Dec. 1, 1987)
  • Grenada (Oct. 23, 1983 to Nov. 21, 1983)
  • Panama (Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990)

                                    OR — 

You served in the theater of operations on or after Aug. 2, 1990, including the Persian Gulf and Iraq.

Service Interrupting NYSTRS Membership
Generally, you may be eligible for credit if: a) you were a full-time or part-time NYSTRS member under contract when military service interrupted your membership; and b) you were re-employed under contract in a NYSTRS-eligible position within 90 days of your discharge or no later than the September following the date of discharge. However, other conditions may exist that would allow you to obtain this credit. Call NYSTRS’ Military Service Unit at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6060 for more information.

Military Service Cost
For service preceding NYSTRS membership: For each year purchased the cost for Tier 1-5 members is 3% of the salary you earned during the 12 months of credited service immediately preceding the year in which you make the claim. For Tier 6 members, the cost is 6%.

Full payment must be made to the System by June 30 of the plan year immediately following the year in which you are provided a cost by the System. If payment is not received within this time frame, a recalculation will be required.

For service interrupting NYSTRS membership: There is no cost for Tier 1 or 2 members, as well as for Tier 3 or 4 members who stopped making mandatory contributions before entering military service. All other members must make the mandatory contributions they would have made if they were employed in NYS public service during the period of military service, with the exception of those called to duty between Sept. 11, 2001 and Jan. 1, 2006 (see next paragraph). For those who returned to work before Dec. 12, 1994, the cost would include interest to the date of payment.

Non-Contributory Military Service Credit legislation, signed as Chapter 326 of the Laws of 2005, waives the stipulation that member contributions be paid in order to obtain military service credit for members called to active military duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001 and prior to Jan. 1, 2006.

How to Apply
To apply for military service credit, forward a copy of your honorable military discharge form DD214 to NYSTRS for evaluation. If you do not have this form, you may obtain a copy by contacting:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

(314) 801-0800 | MPR.center@nara.gov

We encourage you to submit your DD214 before retirement so we can provide you the full benefit for which you are eligible on a timely basis. It generally takes six to nine months to process requests for military service.

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Other Service

NYS Public Service Earned in Another Retirement System
As a result of Chapter 675 of the Laws of 2006, you may obtain credit for service earned in another New York State public retirement system subsequent to your NYSTRS membership, even if your membership in the other system has ceased. To claim this credit, you must have been an active NYSTRS member on or after June 30, 2006, and you must have at least two years of NYSTRS service. This service is cost-free for Tier 1 and 2 members. The cost is 3% (for Tier 3 and 4 members), 3.5% (for Tier 5 members), or 6% (for Tier 6 members) of salary received during the period of service plus interest of 5% per year to the date of payment. To claim this service, file a Claim for Service Credit Under Chapter 675 of the Laws of 2006 (MAC-80) form. NYSTRS must receive verification of this service and any required payment before it is credited.

New York City Subsequent Service
You can obtain service credit for teaching in New York City public schools at a time when you were a member of NYSTRS and were prohibited from joining a city retirement system. To be eligible, you must have taught prior to July 1, 1990, and must have at least two years of NYSTRS service. You must claim this service by filing a NYC Subsequent Service under Chapter 352 of the Laws of 2002 (MAC-79) form. NYSTRS must receive verification of this service before it is credited.

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Benefit Enhancement (Article 19)

At retirement, eligible Tier 1 and 2 members receive one-twelfth of a year in enhancement credit for each year of their service credit at retirement, up to a maximum of two years of credit. To be eligible for the credit, you must have been in active service for at least 20 days in any one school year on or after July 1, 1992. Eligible members can determine their additional credit with the Benefit Enhancement chart.

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Check Your Service

Review your records, think about all the work you have done, and make sure you have claimed all the credit for which you are eligible.

Each year, when you review your NYSTRS Benefit Profile, make sure all of your service has been accurately reported and credited. This is your guarantee that you will receive all the benefits you are entitled to in retirement.

Obtain Forms

You can obtain NYSTRS forms on the Forms page of our website at www.nystrs.org, or by calling our Hotline at (800) 782-0289.

Contact NYSTRS

(800) 348-7298
(518) 447-2900 from the Albany area
Prior Service Ext. 6030
Transfer In Ext. 6040
Military Service Ext. 6060
Reinstated Membership Ext. 6070
Member Service Credit Ext. 6075
Consultations Ext. 6100
General Information Ext. 6250

New York State Teachers' Retirement System
10 Corporate Woods Drive
Albany, NY 12211-2395
www.nystrs.org | communit@nystrs.org

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