Membership in the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) provides many benefits. NYSLRS is one of the largest retirement systems in the United States with more than 1 million members, retirees and beneficiaries. NYSLRS has long been recognized as one of the best-managed and best-funded public retirement systems in the nation. NYSLRS membership provides vested members with a lifetime pension benefit. If members leave public service with less than ten years of service, they can withdraw their NYSLRS membership. They can receive a refund of all contributions made to the Retirement System, plus interest (the current interest rate is 5 percent) or they can roll over this money into another retirement savings plan. New members will lock in the benefits of Tier 6. Other advantages of membership include:
- Death benefits;
- Service retirement;
- Disability retirement for both on-the-job and non-job-related disabilities;
- Transfer of membership from other public retirement systems in New York State; and
- Crediting of service from other public retirement systems in New York State.
Once an individual becomes an employee of an employer that participates in NYSLRS, he or she has the opportunity to join the system. One of the most important responsibilities of a participating employer is to ensure that each new employee is provided the opportunity to join NYSLRS at the time of his or her initial employment. Once an employee joins, membership must continue even if the member changes to another participating employer, or changes from full- to part-time employment.
Except for persons receiving a benefit from a public retirement system administered by the State of New York or a political subdivision, public employees fall into one of two categories:
- Those for whom membership in NYSLRS is mandatory and who, therefore, must join; or
- Those for whom membership in NYSLRS is optional and who, therefore, may elect to decline membership, or may join by filing a membership application with NYSLRS.