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Planning for retirement

New York Teacher

To everything there is a season, and retirement is no different.

The decision to retire should be made only after careful consideration. The most common retirement date by far for UFT members is July 1 because it coincides with the end of the school year. We suggest you select a date that works best for you, but if you’re planning a July 1 retirement, you should already have begun to prepare.

Preparation for the rest of your life takes time. Fortunately for our members, the UFT has done much of the heavy lifting by developing tried-and-true steps you should take.

If you’re thinking of retiring in the next few years, you should take advantage of all the UFT’s pension-related services, including the union’s in-person and virtual pension clinics and its retiree health benefits virtual seminar.

In your final months before retirement, we advise you to schedule a final pension consultation. This consultation will cover these important topics:

  • A retirement allowance estimate: You have to choose how to structure your defined-benefit pension. You have the option to take the maximum retirement allowance or to take a lesser amount and provide for dependents and beneficiaries. If you let your pension consultant know your choice in advance, you may receive a personalized printout of your estimated retirement allowance calculated by the consultant when you attend your final pension consultation.
  • The Tax-Deferred Annuity: The TDA is one of the largest financial assets most members have. You must decide whether to continue to invest with the Teachers’ Retirement System as a retiree or roll over your TDA and invest it with another organization.
  • Benefits: These include health insurance and UFT Welfare Fund benefits, such as the Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP), which is available at low cost. The pension consultant will also cover the basics of Social Security.
  • Tax implications: A brief review of how federal, state and city income taxes will affect your retirement allowance.
  • Documents: A review of the TRS retirement application and related forms.
  • Retired Teachers Chapter membership: As an RTC member, you will have access to a wide range of services, including access to pension representatives to answer your questions and help you navigate the TRS or the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS).

Steps to take

If you are 65 or older, you must enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B one to three months prior to retirement. You should contact the Social Security office for more information.

Call the UFT at 212-331-6311 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to arrange a final pension consultation. Meetings are scheduled in the borough office most convenient to you.

File your retirement application at least one business day, but not more than 90 days, before your retirement date. File appropriate forms to elect an option for your TDA funds at retirement. Then file with your payroll secretary either form OP-44 for termination pay or form OP-40 for terminal leave. OP-40 must be filed at least 30 days prior to the onset of your leave, or by June 1 if your leave begins in September.

File a Health Benefits Application (form ERB) to waive or continue health insurance and check YES for the optional benefits rider to receive prescription drugs.

Enroll in the RTC, and fill out and submit your COPE card and your UFT SHIP card.

After retirement

You will receive advance payments from TRS until your pension is finalized. You also will receive a Statement of Benefits.

Review the rules for working retirees, and file form W-4P for tax withholdings.

This column is compiled by Tom Brown, David Kazansky and Victoria Lee, teacher-members of the NYC Teachers’ Retirement Board.