Update Regarding Retiree Earnings Limit During COVID-19 Emergency
Normally, most NYSLRS retirees who return to work for a public employer face an earnings limit. Under Section 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law, most NYSLRS retirees under age 65 who return to work for a public employer can earn up to $35,000 per calendar year without penalty. The limit includes all earnings for the calendar year, including money or retroactive payments earned in the calendar year but paid in a different calendar year. If a retiree exceeds the earnings limit and continues to work, their pension benefits are suspended for the remainder of the year.
Update: Retiree Earnings Limit Suspended
Because of the COVID-19 emergency, the Governor has issued executive orders temporarily suspending the limit. Under the executive orders, post-retirement earnings with a public employer will not count toward a retiree’s annual earnings limit during the following time periods:
- January 1, 2022 through July 29, 2022.
- January 1, 2021 through June 24, 2021, and September 27, 2021 through December 31, 2021.
- March 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Recent legislation has also suspended the earnings limit for retirees employed by school districts and BOCES through June 30, 2023.
Visit our Hiring Public Retirees page for information about retiree earnings limits and reporting retirees.
Furloughed employees and loan payments
NYSLRS members who are furloughed and placed on an unpaid leave, may defer their loan payments for 12 months or until they are working again, whichever occurs first.
To be eligible for a deferment, NYSLRS must receive written confirmation of the date an employee was put on leave and the date that the employee is expected to return.
Members must still repay their loan(s) in full within the original five year repayment term. When the member returns to the payroll, or 12 months elapses from the date their leave first began, the member’s loan payments will need to be recalculated and increased, to ensure the loan(s) is paid within the five year period.
Members who wish to keep making payments while on furlough may also make direct payments on their loan balances to NYSLRS at any time. Retirement Online provides a convenient way to make such payments.
Please contact NYSLRS if you have questions about loan deferments.
Members who are furloughed
Furloughed employees who are not working and are not being paid by their employer, should not be reported to NYSLRS. When a furloughed member returns to work, begin reporting their salary and service to NYSLRS once again.
Members who are being paid or on paid leave
When a member is being paid, whether for work performed or through use of leave accruals (including the COVID-19 related leave provided for by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act), they must continue to be reported to NYSLRS as you normally would.
Here is furlough-related information you can share with your employees.
Reporting instructions for employers using Retirement Online enhanced reporting
When an employee is on an unpaid furlough, use the HR Transaction to inform NYSLRS of the break in service. Use the Leave of Absence (LOA) code and effective date to indicate that the employee is not currently working and receiving pay. When they return to work, use the HR Transaction Return from Leave (RFL) code and effective date to inform NYSLRS that the employee is working again, and resume reporting their days and earnings.
When an employee is working a reduced schedule, please report the employee with the reduced number of hours. For example, if an employee usually works an eight hour day and is now working half-time, report four hours of regular earnings and .5 days per day worked.
When an employee is not working but is still being paid due to a COVID-19 leave code, continue to report their earnings on your monthly report and submit their regular service credit amount prior to furlough.
Reporting members under Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act Reporting
Families First Coronavirus Response Act — Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an employee is entitled to additional paid emergency sick time. Eligibility for FFCRA is determined by the employer. Certain public employers and private employers with less than 500 employees must follow the provisions of FFCRA. FFCRA provides that employers must provide two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave to eligible employees who are impacted by COVID-19. In order to be eligible for this additional paid sick leave, the employee must be unable to work/telecommute for one of the reasons as described in FFRCA. The employer determines the amount of wages an employee is eligible to receive under FFCRA.
How members are reported under FFCRA — Members using FFCRA are reported at the amount paid under FFCRA. Any time the member is not being paid by the participating employer, the employee is not reported to NYSLRS
If the employee is taking the FFCRA leave for the following reasons they should be reported at their regular service credit amount:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
If the employee is taking the FFCRA leave for the following reasons they should be reported at an amount equivalent to 2/3 service credit:
- The employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury. (HHS has yet to define “other substantially similar condition.”)
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act — If an employer determines that an employee is eligible for leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) because they need to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19, and the employee is receiving up to two-thirds of their pay, you will report the wages they are paid and two-thirds of their regular service credit. For any time the member is not being paid by the participating employer, the employee is not reported to NYSLRS.