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NYS Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

Working After Retirement

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Once you decide to retire, you may still want to work elsewhere — maybe to supplement your retirement income or to pursue a second career. You should be aware, however, that there may be some restrictions on your post-retirement earnings.

Your retirement benefit will not be affected if you are a regular service retiree (not receiving a disability benefit from the Retirement System) and your employer is not a public employer in New York State. You do not need Retirement System approval to work and your earnings are unlimited if you:

  • Are self-employed;
  • Work for a private employer;
  • Work for another state or its political subdivisions; or
  • Work for the federal government.

However, if you plan to work for a public employer (New York State or one of its political subdivisions), there are two sections of the Retirement and Social Security Law (Sections 211 and 212) that may affect you.

Under Section 212, you may earn up to the annual amount set by law. The limit is currently $30,000. The New York State Legislature periodically adjusts this amount. However, your earnings are generally not limited in the year you reach age 65 and thereafter.

If you return to work for a public employer and earn more than the Section 212 limit, your pension will be suspended unless your prospective employer requests a Section 211 approval of employment for you. If approved, this will allow you to continue receiving your retirement benefit without reduction unless you return to a former employer.

Please note that under Section 211, the State of New York is considered one employer. This is important to know if you retire from one State agency and are considering working for a different agency.

Effective October 7, 2008, Chapter 640 of the Laws of 2008 prohibits retirees from returning to work under Section 211 in the same or a similar position for a period of one year following retirement. Significantly, this law does not apply to individuals who previously received approval.

Earnings from work for a former employer are subject to a set limit — the difference between the Single Life Allowance (Option 0) amount and your final salary. A “former employer” is any public employer that paid you a salary during the two years before your retirement and your retirement benefit is based in part on that salary and/or service.

Unlike service retirees’ earnings, all disability retirees’ earning — both public and private — are restricted. You may earn the difference in any year between the maximum salary you would have received in the next higher position from which you retired and the Single Life Allowance (Option 0).

Before you return to work, please read our booklet, What If I Work After Retirement? (VO1648). Understanding these laws will help you avoid any reduction to or suspension of your retirement benefit.

(Rev. 12/16)