2019 Legislation

2016 Legislation

The following is a summary of 2019 NYSTRS-related legislation that has been signed into law.

Military Service Eligibility

Chapter 490 of the Laws of 2019 (S45B/A8097)
Signed into law Nov. 12, 2019
Effective Date: Nov. 12, 2020

Chapter 490 amends various provisions of law to expand eligibility for certain state benefits to veterans and LGBT veterans who have a qualifying condition and who received a discharge for other than bad conduct or dishonorable discharge from military service. Veterans and LGBT veterans, with a qualifying condition, will be eligible to apply for military service credit beginning on or after November 12, 2020.

Chapter 490:

  • Defines "qualifying condition" to mean a post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury or an experience of military sexual trauma confirmed by a licensed health care provider, which qualifying condition is to be confirmed on a standardized form developed by the division of the United States Veterans Affairs.
  • Defines "discharged LGBT veteran" to mean a veteran who was discharged less than honorably due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or their conduct as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, that was prohibited by the military at the time of their discharge.
  • Modifies "veteran" to include a veteran or LGBT veteran who has a qualifying condition and has received a discharge for other than bad conduct or dishonorable discharge from military service.
  • Changes the formal name of military discharge papers from the "Certificate of Honorable Discharge" to the "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty".

Earnings in Retirement

Chapter 589 of the Laws of 2019 (S1866-B/A2858-B)
Signed into law Dec. 6, 2019
Effective Date: Dec. 6, 2019 (Applicable to earnings as of Jan. 1, 2020)

Chapter 589 of the Laws of 2019 amends Section 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law to increase the amount a retired NYSTRS member under age 65 may earn in New York State public employment to $35,000 from $30,000, commencing with earnings as of Jan. 1, 2020.

NYSTRS-participating employers are required to report monthly through the Employer Secure Area any earnings paid to NYSTRS retirees (including through consultant agreements). This is addressed in more detail in Section 20: Earnings After Retirement of the Employer Manual. Retirees under age 65 are also responsible for reporting these earnings to NYSTRS. See the Retirees > Earnings After Retirement page for more information.

Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund

Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2019 (S1509-C/A2009-C)
Specifically, Part YYY, Sections 52-g through 52-k
Signed into law April 12, 2019
Effective Date: April 1, 2019

Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2019 (part and sections denoted) amends Section 6-r of the General Municipal Law to allow certain eligible participating employers of NYSTRS the option to establish a retirement contribution reserve sub-fund. The purpose of the reserve sub-fund is to permit those employers to set aside funds in one year to defray the required employer contribution payable to NYSTRS under Education Law Section 521 in another year. 

The information provided here is for general reference only. The System recommends participating employers consult with their legal counsel for guidance and implementation of the law.

In general, the provisions:

  • Broaden the existing statute on Retirement Contribution Reserve Funds to authorize NYSTRS eligible participating employers (i.e., public school districts and BOCES, except those in a city with a population of 125,000 or more) to establish a retirement contribution reserve sub-fund for the collection of required employer contributions for NYSTRS.
  • Authorize expenditures, transfers and termination of the sub-fund by Board of Education or Trustee resolution.
  • Allow eligible employers to reserve in a fiscal year an amount not to exceed 2% of the total compensation or salaries of all teachers in their employ who are members of NYSTRS for the immediately preceding fiscal year, with an overall reserve sub-fund balance cap of 10% of the same.
  • Require monies set aside in the sub-fund be used to finance required contributions to NYSTRS, and/or to offset all or a portion of the amount deducted from monies apportioned through state aid.
  • Require the chief fiscal officer of said employer to provide a detailed report of the operation and condition of the fund to the Board of Education or Trustees within 60 days of the end of the fiscal year.
  • Maintain the mechanisms for funds to be deposited, secured and invested.
  • Preserve other legal requirements set forth in General Municipal Law Section 6-r.

Refer to the full text of the law for more information.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) 

SECURE Act of 2019
H.R. 1865, Pub.L. 116-94
Signed into law December 20, 2019
Effective Date: January 1, 2020

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 changed a variety of retirement account rules, including the age at which a member must start taking annual Required Minimum Distributions (RMD). The SECURE Act increased the required beginning age for RMDs to age 72, up from the age of 70 ½.

Members who turn 70 ½ on or after January 1, 2020 now have until April 1 of the year following the year they turn 72 to take their first RMD. For example, if a member turns 72 on December 1, 2020, they must begin taking their RMD no later than April 1, 2021.

If a member turned 70 ½ on or before December 31, 2019, this change does not apply to them and they must take their first RMD no later than April 1, 2020. The RMD rule also does not apply to members who have reached the required beginning age and are still working for a NYSTRS employer, as these members can continue to defer the collection of the RMD until they stop working.

This legislation does not affect members who are already receiving a pension from NYSTRS.

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