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Filing for retirement, step by step

New York Teacher

The approach of summer means we’ll soon wish some colleagues a happy retirement. Many in-service teachers and other Teachers’ Retirement System members have already visited TRS this spring to file their retirement paperwork and have it reviewed by TRS’ Member Services Center representatives.

If you are considering this major step when the school year ends, here are some things to think about or do:

Purchase service credit

An increase in your service credit generally means an increase in your pension calculation. If you have in-service credit you can buy, start the process before you retire. Refer to your most recent TRS Annual Benefits Statement or a recent Total Service Letter to find out if you have service credit available for purchase.

Payment options

All TRS members, regardless of tier, have several payment options for their retirement allowance. All provide monthly payments throughout retirement but vary in the death benefits paid to one or more beneficiaries. For example, the Maximum Payment Option pays the most while you are alive but does not provide a continuing benefit to beneficiaries. Download TRS’ retirement options brochures from its website.

Determine future of TDA funds

If you have an account in the TRS’ Tax-Deferred Annuity Program, you must make a distribution choice. You may maintain your TDA account at TRS by electing TDA deferral status at retirement. In this case, no distributions are required until you reach age 70½. You may also choose to withdraw or roll over the TDA funds. Or you may choose to annuitize the account and receive a second monthly payment.

Consider QPP loans

Retirement is the last opportunity to pay off a loan balance from your pension and it’s also the last chance to take a new QPP loan if you have the need. Just keep in mind your retirement allowance payments will be reduced as a result of any QPP loan balance at retirement.

Electronic retirement payments

If you are a Department of Education employee, your retirement payments are sent to the same account as your paychecks unless you otherwise instruct TRS.

Employer health insurance

If you are a DOE employee, you may file your papers at TRS at 55 Water St. in Manhattan, where DOE representatives will be on-site weekdays beginning Thursday, June 6, through Friday, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you cannot get to TRS during that period in June, you can submit your papers at the DOE’s Brooklyn office at 65 Court St.

File with TRS in person

We strongly encourage members to file retirement applications in person at TRS and to start the process well in advance of a proposed retirement date, if possible.

At the TRS’ Member Services Center in lower Manhattan, TRS representatives will make sure your application is complete, review your choices and answer questions. Remember to have your documents completed and notarized before you visit.

The TRS’ Member Services Center is open Monday through Friday (except on New York City holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please plan to arrive before 4:30 p.m. if you are filing for retirement. Keep in mind that June is typically the busiest time of the year, and the last two weeks of June are the busiest time of that month. TRS does not make appointments at the Member Services Center.

Related Topics: Secure Your Future, Pension