Chapter 95 of the Laws of 2011
Chapter 95 of the Laws of 2011, signed into law June 24, 2011, authorizes same-sex marriages in the state of New York and accords partners in same-sex marriages all the rights and privileges accorded to partners in opposite-sex marriages. Chapter 95 authorizes NYSTRS to treat same-sex spouses equally for the purposes of any "spousal" benefit provided by the System. Such benefits include the accidental death benefit provided to Tier 3, 4 and 5 members payable to the "surviving spouse" of a NYSTRS member; the supplemental retirement allowance paid pursuant to Education Law §532 to a retiree's "widow or widower"; and, the cost-of-living adjustments paid pursuant to Education Law §532-a to the retiree's "surviving spouse."
Chapter 491 of the Laws of 2011
Chapter 491 of the Laws of 2011, signed into law August 17, 2011, amends the compensation schedules for certain state officers and employees as defined in Civil Service Law §130. These changes are relevant to NYSTRS members as the maximum salary specified under Civil Service Law §130 is the statutory cap on the amount of the compensation that can be used to compute the Tier 2, 3, 4 and 5 ordinary death benefit. As the ordinary death benefit is a constitutionally protected benefit, the effect of Chapter 491 and the application for the paragraph 2 death benefit calculation will be as follows:
- A member with a date of membership prior to August 17, 2011 will be capped at a maximum salary of $163,772.
- A member with a date of membership on August 17, 2011 and after will be capped at a maximum salary of $163,033.
There may still be further adjustments to these statutory provisions, as the salary schedule in Civil Service §130 could be subject to change in future state labor agreements.
Chapter 582 of the Laws of 2011
Chapter 582 of the Laws of 2011, signed into law September 23, 2011, makes certain technical corrections to include "service in the uniformed service pursuant to Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the United States Code" in the provisions relating to death benefits payable to eligible survivors of public employees who die while in the military service. The enactment of this statute assures compliance with the federal tax code requirements of the Federal Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the "Heart Act"). For the purpose of determining eligibility for the pre-retirement death benefit, a NYSTRS member shall be considered to have died while "in service" provided such member was ordered to service, including in active duty for training purposes, and died while on such active duty.