Most members are required to contribute a portion of their earnings to the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). Whether a member contributes, and how much, depends on their membership tier.
Mandatory Contributions for Tier 6
Tier 6 members are required to contribute a percentage of their reportable earnings (a minimum of 3 percent, see chart below) for their entire career. However, there are some exceptions:
- ERS Tier 6: New York State correction officers, who are not required to contribute after 30 years of service (Article 15 of the RSSL, as modified by Chapter 18 Laws of 2012).
- PFRS Tier 6: members enrolled in a retirement plan that limits the amount of creditable service they may accrue are not required to contribute once they reach the maximum amount of service allowed by their plan.
- PFRS: if a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement that was in effect on January 9, 2010 required an employer to offer a non-contributory plan, any new PFRS employees who joined while that agreement was in place, and who elected the special plan, may not be required to contribute.
How Tier 6 Variable Contribution Rates Work
Tier 6 contribution rates are based on earnings.
|Annualized Wage or Actual Earnings||Contribution Rate|
|$45,000 or less||3.00%|
|$45,000.01 to $55,000||3.50%|
|$55,000.01 to $75,000||4.50%|
|$75,000.01 to $100,000||5.75%|
|More than $100,000||6.00%|
For the first three years of NYSLRS membership, a full-time Tier 6 employee’s contribution rate is based on the annual wage that you provide when you enroll them.
For part-time employees, you calculate an “annualized wage” at enrollment. This is the amount a part-time employee would be expected to earn if they worked full-time. The annualized wage is used to determine the employee’s contribution rate, which is applied to the employee’s actual earnings. Visit our Annual Wage page for more information and how to calculate an annualized wage.
After three years: we use the earnings reported from the last completed State fiscal year to determine the contribution rate for the upcoming fiscal year. So, in March 2023, when we notify you of the Tier 6 contribution rates to begin using in April 2023, those rates are based on earnings from April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Rates can change at the beginning of each fiscal year.
Here's an example:
- State fiscal year 2020 – 2021: John Smith joins NYSLRS. At enrollment, you provide us with a projected annual wage of $42,000. We provide you with his rate, 3 percent, based on that projected annual wage. You used that rate for the remainder of State fiscal year 2020 – 2021.
- March 2021: The rate for Mr. Smith is still based on the annual wage from his membership application, so his rate is 3 percent. You used this rate for all of State fiscal year 2021 – 2022.
- March 2022: The rate for Mr. Smith is still based on the annual wage from his membership application, so his rate is 3 percent. You used this rate for all of State fiscal year 2022 – 2023.
- March 2023: We provide you a rate for Mr. Smith based on his last completed fiscal year, April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Mr. Smith earned $46,000 during that fiscal year, so his rate will go up to 3.5 percent. Use this rate for all of State fiscal year 2023 – 2024.
What You Need to Do
In March of each year, if you have Tier 6 employees whose rates have changed, we will send an email notifying you that updated contribution rates are available in Retirement Online. You must apply these rates to your Tier 6 employees’ earnings during the upcoming State fiscal year (April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024). Please review them carefully, and make sure your payroll system withholds the proper amounts.
To view the contribution rates, sign in to Retirement Online. From your Account Homepage, click the “Access Reporting Dashboard” button. After choosing your location code, click the “Member Contribution Rates” link. You’ll see a list of all your employees. To identify employees whose contribution rates have changed, enter 04/01/2023 in the As Of Date column and click the “Search” button. Members whose rate have changed will sort to the top of the list and will have a date of 04/01/2023 in the Contribution Rate Effective As Of column. You can export the entire list to Excel and sort by Tier if it’s helpful.
The earnings shown in the Annual Wage column on the Member Contribution Rates page may not include all the earnings NYSLRS used to calculate a Tier 6 member’s contribution rate. Some NYSLRS members work for more than one participating employer. A Tier 6 member’s contribution rate is based on all their earnings reported to NYSLRS, not just earnings from employment with your location. If a contribution rate is higher than you expected, this could be the reason. If you have a question about whether a rate is correct, use our help desk form (select “Monthly Employer Reporting” from the dropdown) or call 866-805-0990 (press 1, then 5).
Tier 6 Legislative Update
April 2022 legislation excludes overtime pay that was earned from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022 from the calculation of Tier 6 contribution rates. The earnings from that time period determine the contribution rates that members pay from April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024.
The rates we provide to you in March 2023 already take this legislation into account.
For rates we provided to you in March 2022: Employers were asked to report a breakdown of pensionable earnings for Tier 6 employees, who may have been affected, by September 30, 2022. Our Overtime Pay Impacts Some Tier 6 Contribution Rates page provided step-by-step instructions and links to resources.
Mandatory Contributions for Tier 5
ERS Tier 5
Most ERS Tier 5 members are required to contribute 3 percent of their earnings for their entire career. Exceptions include New York State correction officers, who are not required to contribute after 30 years of service, and uniformed court officers and peace officers employed by the Unified Court System, who are required to contribute 4 percent of their earnings for all their years of public service (Article 15 of the RSSL for most Tier 5 ERS members).
PFRS Tier 5
PFRS Tier 5 members must contribute 3 percent of their earnings for their entire career unless they are enrolled in a retirement plan that limits the amount of service credit allowed in their retirement plan. In that case, Tier 5 PFRS members are not required to contribute after accruing the maximum amount of service allowed. In addition, if a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement that required an employer to offer a non-contributory plan was in effect on January 9, 2010, any new employees who joined while that agreement was in place, and who elected the special plan, may not be required to contribute (Article 22 of the RSSL for most Tier 5 PFRS members).
Mandatory Contributions for Tiers 3 and 4
ERS Tiers 3 and 4
ERS Tier 3 and 4 members contributed 3 percent of their earnings until they had been a NYSLRS member for ten years or they had ten years of credited service, whichever occurred first.
Most Tier 3 ERS members are covered by both the Coordinated-Escalator Retirement Plan, Article 14 (RSSL) and the Coordinated Retirement Plan, Article 15 (RSSL). Most Tier 4 ERS members are in Article 15. New York State Correction Officers are in a modified Coordinated-Escalator Retirement Plan, Article 14.
PFRS Tiers 3
PFRS Tier 3 members are covered by Article 11 or Article 14 (RSSL). Most Tier 3 PFRS members covered by Article 11 (RSSL) were not required to contribute. Tier 3 PFRS members covered by Article 14 (RSSL) are required to contribute 3 percent of their earnings for 25 years.
Tier 1 and 2 members (ERS and PFRS) and Tier 3, 5 and 6 PFRS members who are not required to contribute may choose to make voluntary contributions to NYSLRS. Members who contribute will receive an annuity based on their voluntary contributions in addition to their pension at retirement (Sections 21[L] and 321[L] of the RSSL).
Members may contribute any whole percentage of their gross earnings from 1 to 10 percent.
How to Start Voluntary Contributions
Members who wish to begin making voluntary contributions must:
- Complete the Election to Make Voluntary Contributions (RS5379) form; and
- File the election form with their payroll office.
The payroll office should:
- Complete the employer portion of the election form, then
- Fax it to us at 518-486-4382 or mail it to the address on the form.
NYSLRS must have the employee’s Election to Make Voluntary Contributions (RS5379) form on file before you begin taking deductions, otherwise the voluntary contributions will be rejected. We will notify you when you can begin taking deductions. These deductions should be included on your monthly report.
How to Stop Voluntary Contributions
Members who wish to stop making voluntary contributions must:
- Complete the Cancellation of Election to Make Voluntary Contributions (RS5378) form; and
- File the cancellation form with their payroll office.
The payroll office should:
- Complete the employer portion of the cancellation form, then
- Fax it to us at 518-486-4382 or mail it to the address on the form.
The payroll office should change the deduction percentage to the new rate beginning with the payroll following receipt of the cancellation form.
How to Change the Contribution Percentage
To change the percentage of the voluntary contribution, a member must:
- Complete a new Election to Make Voluntary Contributions (RS5379) form; and
- File the new election form with their payroll office.
The payroll office should change the deduction percentage to the new rate beginning with the payroll following receipt of the new election form. You must include these voluntary contributions in your monthly report.
A member may make only one election, change or cancellation during a 12-month period.