Retirement Plan Eligibility and Election
Full-time employees with appointments of 3 months or longer are required to join a Retirement System within 30 days of their appointment/hire date.
Part-time employees and those with provisional or temporary appointments have the option to join a Retirement System at any time. No Retirement System membership will be established, nor any service credit or contributions reported, however, until the appropriate Retirement System election and membership applications have been received and processed.
The selection of a Retirement System is an important decision, so please review the options very carefully.
Once an employee’s election is made, generally they will not be allowed to change Retirement Systems, unless they have a change in employment title making them eligible for a different Retirement System for the first time and they opt to change to that System within 30 days of their eligible appointment.
It is important to note that membership in a Retirement System may not otherwise be changed or withdrawn during your current or any subsequent employment with any SUNY or community college campus.
Retirement Plan Options
Eligibility for a Retirement System depends on a variety of factors, including your Bargaining Unit, your position classification, and whether you are full or part-time.
All employees in both the Classified (e.g., CSEA, PEF, PBANYS, NYSCOPBA, and MC-06) and the Unclassified (e.g., UUP and MC-13) service are eligible to join:
- The New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System (ERS)
ERS is a defined benefit pension Retirement System. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the Final Average Salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement.
Employees in the Unclassified service may, depending on title, be eligible to join:
- The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (TRS)
TRS is a defined benefit pension Retirement System. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the Final Average Salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement. Membership is open to employees in a select group of titles, including: all faculty titles, librarian or coach titles, or in the titles of chancellor, president, vice-president, provost, dean, associate dean, or assistant dean
Employees in the Unclassified service who are full-time, part-time UUP employees with Term appointments, and MC employees who are at least half-time, are also eligible to elect:
- The SUNY Optional Retirement Program (ORP)
The ORP is a defined contribution Retirement System. Retirement benefits will depend on the value upon distribution of individually owned annuity contracts purchased on behalf of electing employees through employer and required employee contributions from one or more of the currently Authorized Investment Providers for the SUNY ORP, including: TIAA, VOYA, Fidelity and VALIC. The SUNY ORP is designed to allow retirement at any age. Distributions from ORP contracts are permitted any time after separation from services, subject to an IRS 10% penalty for distributions prior to age 59 ½ , unless separating from service after reaching the normal retirement age of 55. Because the SUNY ORP is a NYS Public Retirement Plan, ORP distributions are generally exempt from NYS Income Taxes. Once an employee’s vesting period is over, the option to use an investment provider other than TIAA becomes available. Investment provider contact information is located in the ORP link above.
Additional Retirement Plan Information
Retirement Plan Enrollment
To enroll in ERS, TRS or ORP employees must complete:
To enroll in ERS an employee must also complete:
To enroll in TRS an employee must also complete:
To complete the ORP enrollment process, employees must create an online account:
Voluntary Savings Program
Employees have the option to save additional money for retirement with two types of tax deferred savings plans - 403(b) and 457(b). Employee contributions can be made to either or both types of accounts within IRS limits.
To open a 403(b) account, employees must:
· Open a 403(b) account with one of the available investment providers; TIAA, VOYA, VALIC, or Fidelity. See the Universal Availability Notice for investment provider contact information.
· Submit a Salary Reduction Agreement to Human Resources. Forms should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the first desired payroll deduction.
To make changes to an existing 403(b) account, employees must:
· Submit a new Salary Reduction Agreement to Human Resources.
To open a 457(b) account, employees must:
· Contact the NYS Deferred Compensation System directly at 1-800-422-8463 or submit a paper enrollment form directly to the NYS Deferred Compensation System. The current enrollment form can be found at: www.nysdcp.com.
· Visit Benefits News and Events for Investment Provider On-Campus Counseling dates.
· Financial Planning Tools and Calculators
Planning for Retirement
This information is subject to change and serves only as a summary. Please see each benefit program’s official publications and updates for additional rules, requirements, and details.
Prior to Retirement:
Call the Benefits Office to schedule a meeting at least three to four months before retiring.
- Employees should contact their retirement system to determine their pension benefit and choose a retirement date.
- Members of the NYS Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) should file an Application for Service Retirement between 15 and 90 days before your retirement date*.
- Members of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) should file an Application for Retirement between 1 and 90 days before your retirement date*.
- Members of the Optional Retirement Program (ORP), including TIAA, should notify their ORP investment provider up to the day before their retirement date*.
- Contact the Time Records Office at 437-4715 regarding leave accruals and usage before retirement. Any vacation or personal leave you plan to use must be taken before your retirement date.
- Make sure your leave reporting is up-to-date as of your last day of work or paid leave.
- Notify your supervisor in writing in advance of retiring.
*If planning on collecting a pension upon retirement.
Retiree Health Insurance:
To meet the current eligibility requirements for NYSHIP retiree health insurance, an employee must:
- Be enrolled in a NYSHIP plan or have dependent coverage through a NYSHIP enrollee;
- Be at least 55 years of age if in Tiers 1-4 (Contact HBA if you are in Tiers 5-6); and
- Have a minimum of ten years of NYSHIP benefits-eligible service.
If you have questions about eligibility, call the Benefits Office at least four to six months before retiring.
Health Insurance Resources:
· Planning for Retirement - Health Insurance - PDF version
· Medicare and NYSHIP - online or PDF version
· WorkLife Video Library - Retirement related videos
· Pre-Retirement Planning Self Help Guide for NYS Employees
Working After Retirement
Employees may return to work after retirement. Earnings will not affect a pension if:
- The retiree is over 65 years of age or;
- The retiree is self-employed or;
- The retiree works for a private employer, the federal government, or another state or;
- The retiree works for a public employer (SUNY) and earns less than $30,000 annually as determined by Section 212 of NYS Retirement Law.