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NYS Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

Are You Vested? And What It Means

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Are You Vested?

Active members in Tier 1, 2, 3 or 4 who have at least five years of credited service are vested. Tier 5 and 6 members must have ten years of credited service to be vested.

What It Means

Once you become vested, you may leave public employment and, at a later date, apply for and receive your retirement benefit. Your vested retirement benefit will be based on service and salary earned when you were an active member.

Vested Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) Tiers 1–5 Members and ERS Tier 6 Members

If you leave the payroll before age 55, you are eligible for a retirement benefit when you reach age 55. If you are a Tier 1 or Tier 2 member, you are eligible for a benefit on the first of the month following your 55th birthday. If you are a Tier 3, 4, 5 or ERS Tier 6 member, you are eligible for a benefit on your 55th birthday.

If you are a Tier 3 or 4 vested member with less than ten years of service credit, you have the option of voluntarily withdrawing your membership and receiving a refund, or rolling over your contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or other qualified retirement plan.

Vested PFRS Tier 6 Members

If you leave the payroll before age 55, you are eligible for a retirement benefit on your 63rd birthday.

Filing for Your Benefit

To receive your retirement benefit at the earliest possible date, you should file a retirement application within 90 days of the date you become eligible. If the Retirement System receives your retirement application after you become eligible, your retirement is effective on the date the application is received. Remember, it is up to you to file a retirement application when you become eligible and wish to receive your benefit.

Your Benefit

Generally, your benefit is determined by the provisions of the retirement plan that you were covered by in your last public employment. However, if you were covered under a special plan, and have not met the service requirements for that plan, your retirement benefit is 1/60th (1.66 percent) of your final average salary for each year of credited service. For an explanation of your benefit, please refer to the booklet for your plan and tier in the Publications section of this site.

The vested retirement benefit is payable for your lifetime and you may elect one of several payment options to provide for a beneficiary.

A benefit reduction for early retirement is required under certain plans:

  • Regular service retirement plans for Tier 2, 3 and 4 Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members retiring prior to age 62 with less than 30 years of service credit;
  • Regular service retirement plans for Tier 5 ERS members retiring prior to age 62 regardless of service credit;*
  • Regular service retirement plans for Tier 6 ERS members retiring prior to age 63 regardless of service credit;
  • Regular service retirement plans for Tier 2 and 5 Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members retiring prior to age 62;
  • Special service retirement plans for Tier 2, 3, 4, and 5 ERS members (except Section 89 for Tier 2 correction officers);
  • Tier 2 ERS members covered by Section 89-a retiring prior to age 62 with less than 30 years of service credit;
  • Tier 2 ERS members covered by Section 89-b retiring between age 55 and 60 with 20 or more but less than 30 years of service or prior to age 62 with less than 30 years of service.

*Except for Uniformed Court Officers and Peace Officers employed by the Unified Court System.

If you are in one of the following plans, are vested and leave the payroll before age 55, your benefit will not be subject to an early age reduction if you retire at age 55.

  • Retirement benefits for all Tier 2 and Tier 5 PFRS members covered by special plans;
  • Tier 2 correction officers covered by Section 89;
  • Tier 2 members covered by the Section 89-e plans.

To get an estimate of your benefit, use our Benefit Projection Calculator.

(Rev. 4/12)

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