Ready to Retire

Benefits Consultations
If you’re getting ready to retire, this is your one-stop shop for all items related to the NYSTRS retirement process.
Contact Us

(800) 348-7298, Ext. 6250
communit@nystrs.org

This is a big life event, so do the homework necessary to make informed decisions about your retirement.

Review these publications, web pages and videos early in the process.

Use the MyNYSTRS Pension Estimator to calculate estimates under various scenarios. The online estimator uses your most-recent earnings and service credit information to estimate your pension using various dates of retirement and earnings projections. Login to MyNYSTRS and visit the My Retirement > Pension Estimate page.

NYSTRS' Pension & Retirement Education Program (PREP) seminar is designed to help members of all ages prepare for retirement. The seminar will help you understand your NYSTRS benefits while also providing essential retirement-planning tips. This information will help you develop a plan to achieve your retirement goals.

A Benefits Consultation is an important part of your retirement planning. A NYSTRS representative will discuss your benefits and review personalized benefit estimates.

Selecting the benefit payment best for you is the most important decision you will make during the retirement process. By law, you have only 30 days from your date of retirement to change the payment type you selected – even if your circumstances change. After the 30-day deadline, your benefit payment selection is irrevocable.

Review our brochure Maximum or an Option: Choosing a Benefit Payment Right for You and watch our two-part video “Your NYSTRS Benefit Payment – Making the Choice That’s Right for You” for details on the choices available. Use the MyNYSTRS Pension Estimator to get a rough idea of your pension with the Maximum benefit payment or an option that would provide beneficiary protection. 

We also urge you to discuss this with a NYSTRS representative either at a consultation or by calling (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6250.

Your retirement benefit is subject to federal income tax (except for previously taxed contributions) but is exempt from New York State income tax. Your retirement application includes a W-4P form, which you use to elect your federal withholding amount.

Read more about tax rules for your retirement benefit on our Taxes & Estate Planning page, which includes federal tax tables to help you determine how much NYSTRS would withhold from your benefit under different scenarios. We explain how to change your withholdings in the future should you choose to do so. You’ll also learn how to keep your beneficiaries informed and we provide a helpful estate planning list.

Resigning from your employer and filing for a NYSTRS retirement are two separate processes. Your retirement benefits will not automatically begin by resigning from your employer. You must also file for retirement from NYSTRS and the effective date of retirement you enter on your application must be at least one day beyond the last date you earned salary under contract.

The easiest way to file your application, provided you are at least age 55, is online through your MyNYSTRS account. Log in to your account and navigate to My Retirement > Application for Retirement. You can save and store data as you go, so you don’t need to complete the application in one sitting. When you return you’ll see which sections are complete and which you still need to finish. You’ll also have the ability to modify previously completed sections. The online application has built-in logic that ensures you don’t inadvertently miss a step or make a mistake that would cause the application to be rejected.

Or you can complete an Application for Retirement (RET-54), available on the Retirement-Related Forms page of this website. Applications mailed to NYSTRS will be considered filed on the day they are mailed if they are mailed by registered or certified mail via the U.S. Postal Service, or by an equivalent delivery service that provides mail tracking and is approved for use by the System. Please see the list of delivery services currently approved by the System. Please call us at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6250 if you need help completing your retirement application.

You can file your retirement application as late as your date of retirement, but no sooner than 90 days before your retirement date. If you file for service retirement, you may withdraw your retirement application – or change your retirement date – by notifying NYSTRS with a signed request within 14 days from your date of retirement. If you have a MyNYSTRS account, you may use the Secure Messaging feature to notify us you wish to withdraw your application or change your date of retirement. If you don’t have a MyNYSTRS account, send a letter to NYSTRS and it will be considered received on the day it is mailed if it is mailed by registered or certified mail via the U.S. Postal Service, or by an equivalent delivery service that provides mail tracking and is approved for use by the System. Please see the list of delivery services currently approved by the System.

KEY CONSIDERATION: If you are retiring close to a key service milestone, such as 30 years of service for a Tier 4 member, working beyond the date you believe you will reach that milestone is advised. If you miscalculated or included in your calculations work that was not actually creditable, your benefit could be negatively impacted – for life. Always discuss your unique situation with a NYSTRS representative before filing for retirement.

Understanding Your Initial Benefit Payment

In most cases, you will receive your first benefit payment by direct deposit on the last business day of either the month of your official retirement date or the next, depending on when we received your retirement application. In other words, we begin providing your benefit to you well before the processing of your retirement application is complete.

Your initial monthly benefit payment is based on information on file and fully processed by NYSTRS at the time of retirement and typically represents 95% or more of your final benefit, which will be determined once your application is fully processed. For example, the initial benefit may not include your last month or two of salary and service depending on when you filed for retirement because NYSTRS requires time to review and process that information. As monthly reports of service and salary are fully processed by NYSTRS, the updates are reflected in the Service Credit section of your MyNYSTRS account.

Generally, the payment amount will remain unchanged until your application is fully processed, which typically takes 9-12 months, but can take longer in more complicated cases. You will receive a detailed letter when we complete the processing of your application. If your final benefit is higher than our initial estimate, you will receive a lump sum retroactive payment with your first new monthly benefit payment.

The final benefit could be substantially larger than initial payments for Tier 2-6 members who pass a key service milestone in their final year.

For more information about the retirement process and the calculation of your benefit, see the publication The Path to Retirement: What Happens After You File Your Retirement ApplicationTo see step-by-step how your application is proceeding through the process, select the Track Progress of Retirement tab in MyNYSTRS.

Adjusting to Your New Chapter

Visit the Retirees section of our website for information on earnings after retirement, and taxes and estate planning, and to read our retired member FAQs. There you can also access the Retired Members’ Handbook and the calendar of benefit payment dates and System holidays.

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