Chapter 132 - Increase of Special Accidental Death Benefits
Chapter 132 of the Laws of 1999 amends GML § 208-f and RSSL §361-a in relation to increasing certain special accidental death benefits. A special accidental death benefit is paid to a widow or widower of a deceased member; if the widow or widower has died it is paid to the deceased member’s children under the age of eighteen or, if a student, under the age of twenty-three. These amendments set forth the amount of the accidental death benefit to be paid out based upon a percentage of the deceased member’s salary.
Chapter 633 - District Attorney Investigator 25-Year Plan/No Age
Chapter Law 633 of the Laws of 1999 applied to NYCERS members employed as DA Investigators in one of the City’s DA’s Offices. This bill removed the age 55 requirement for DA Investigators, now they can retire with 25 years regardless of age.
Chapter 70 - Early Retirement Incentive for 1999
Chapter 70 of the Laws of 1999 authorized the City of New York and its participating employers (i.e. NYCTA, OTB, etc.) to offer an early retirement incentive (ERI) to employees who were otherwise eligible to retire, or were age 50 or older with 10 or more years of credited pension service on their effective date of retirement.
This ERI provided one month of additional retirement service credit for each year of credited pension services as of the effective date of retirement, up to a maximum of 36 months of such service. The retirement benefit was subject to specified reductions for persons not otherwise eligible for immediate payability of an unreduced service retirement benefit. This ERI was made available during 1999.
Chapter 89 - Earning Limitations of a NYS & NYC Public Sector Retiree Who Returns to Public Service
Chapter 89 of the Laws of 1999 amends §212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL). RSSL §212 sets earning limitations for retired persons upon who continue to receive their retirement allowance while returning to public service. A retired person may earn up to the amounts listed below in a calendar year while also receiving their retirement allowance. Once this earning limit is reached within that calendar year, the retirees retirement allowance shall be suspended for the remainder of the year.
This section is amended annually. In 1999 the maximum earning limitations set forth in this amendment were as follows: Retired persons who return to employment in public service can earn for the year 1999 – $15,500; and for 2000 – $17,000.
Chapter 659 Five-Year Vesting (Supplement to CH389/98)
Chapter 659 of the Laws of 1999 provides for a deferred vested benefit after five years of Allowable or Credited Service for members who were not covered under Chapter 389 of the laws of 1998.
Chapter 389 of the laws of 1998 amended the RSSL to provide a service retirement and vested retirement benefit after five years instead of 10 years of Credited Service for basic Tier 3 and basic Tier 4 members.
THE MINIMUM AGE FOR PAYABILITY IN ALL CASES HAS NOT CHANGED.
The change in requirements to five years of service affects the following:
Members enrolled in the Tier 1 Increased Service Fraction Plan (Plan B), and Tier 2 Modified Increased Service Fraction Plan (Plan D), formerly 15 years.
Members enrolled in the Tier 1 and Tier 2, 20-Year uniformed Sanitation force plans, formerly 15 years.
Members enrolled in the Tier 1 and Tier 2, 20-Year uniformed Correction force plans, formerly 15 years. Basic Tier 3, formerly 10 years.
Participants in the Tier 3, 20-Year Retirement Program for Correction Members below the Rank of Captain, formerly 15 years.
Participants in the Tier 3, 20-Year Retirement Program for Correction Members of the Rank of Captain or Above, formerly 15 years. Basic Tier 4, Age 62 plan, formerly 10 years.
Participants in the Tier 4, 20-Year Retirement Program for uniformed Sanitation force members, formerly 15 years.
Participants in the Tier 4, Transit 25-Year and Age-55 Retirement Program (Transit 25/55 Program) can vest with five or more years of Credited Service. However, if such a member has less than 25 years of Allowable Service in the Transit Authority, the benefit is not payable until age 62. With 25 or more years of Allowable Service in the Transit Authority, the benefit is payable at age 55.
Participants in the Tier 4, TBTA 20-Year/Age50 Retirement Program, formerly 15 years.
Participants in the Tier 4, Age-57 Retirement Program, formerly 10 years.
For Tier 1, Plan B members, the previous vesting law required that the member resign from a paid Plan B status. The language in the law has been changed from “immediately preceding” to ” prior to.” Therefore, a member enrolled in Plan B can resign from an unpaid leave status, as long as he or she has credit for five or more years of Allowable Service during his or her membership.
The law is retroactive to July 17, 1998 for all members, except for Tiers 1 and 2 members of the uniformed force of the Department of Sanitation, who must have discontinued service on or after February 4, 2000 (the effective date of the legislation).
Tier 1 and Tier 2 members who are vested can still withdraw their accumulated member contributions. As can Tier 3 and Tier 4 members with between five and 10 years of Credited Service. However, in electing to receive a refund, the member forfeits his or her right to any and all benefits from NYCERS, including the vested retirement benefit to which he or she would otherwise be eligible. A Tier 3 or Tier 4 member with 10 or more years of Credited Service cannot withdraw his or her accumulated member contributions.
Death Benefits for Vested Members
In 1998 (Chapter 388) and 1999 (Chapter 659), the Retirement & Social Security Law (RSSL) was amended to provide a pre-retirement death benefit for Tiers 2, 3 and 4 vested members with 10 or more years of Credited Service who die on or after January 1, 1997. The death benefit is equal to 50% of the benefit that would have been payable on the member’s last day of active service.
Chapter 659 also provides a death benefit for Tier 1 members with 10 or more years of Allowable Service who are vested under the following:
Plan B 20-Year uniformed Sanitation force plan
20-Year uniformed Correction force plan
BENEFIT IMPROVEMENT FOR TIER 4 MEMBERS
Retirement Benefit Formula Chapter 659 also changed the retirement benefit formula for participants in the Tier 4, Age-57 Retirement Program to 2% of Final Average Salary, for members who have 20 or more years of Credited Service. In 1998, Chapter 266 provided this benefit improvement to members enrolled in the Basic Tier 4 Plan.
THIS RETIREMENT BENEFIT FORMULA IMPROVEMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRANSIT 25/55 PROGRAM.
Variable Supplement Fund for NYC Correction Officers & Above Chapter 657 of the Laws of 1999 created a Variable Supplement Fund (VSF) that consists of monies paid from NYCERS for the purpose of paying a supplemental retirement benefit to NYC correction officers, correction captains and deputy wardens. When NYCERS earns more in any given year from its investments in stocks than it would have earned from investing the same assets in fixed income securities, a percentage of such “excess earnings”, based in the ratio between all correction members salaries and the total salaries of all NYCERS members who transferred from NYCERS to the VSF fund.
This law requires NYCERS to provide for an annual lump sum payment of a VSF to all eligible NYC correction officers, correction captains and deputy wardens.
Chapter 616 - Military Service Credit from Civil Service List
Chapter Law 616 of the Laws of 1999 amended §243.7 of the NYS Military Law. This allows a person who was on military duty while their name was reached on a civil service list, who later enters public service and becomes a member of a retirement system to have the option to switch their tier status to one that was open (if any) during the time he or she was called from the civil service list. This bill does not affect service credit.
Chapter 646 - Membership Reinstatement
Chapter 646 of the Laws of 1999 amended RSSL §645 to allow a member who was previously a member of any public employee retirement system in New York State, but who lost their membership due to insufficient service credit, withdrawal of accumulated contributions, or termination of membership by operation of law (out of City service for more than five years) to be eligible to have their membership date and possible tier status change as of the date of their previous membership. They would be eligible for membership reinstatement if they make application, and repay the amount refunded under the original membership plus interest at 5% per annum compounded annually from the date of the refund through the date of repayment.
Repayment shall be in a lump sum within 30 days of notification of the amount due. Upon repayment the member shall have all rights and benefits dating back to the original date of membership. Once the lump sum payment is received , deductions for the current tier will stop.
If a member is currently in Tier 3 or Tier 4, and, therefore, contributing 3% of wages (until his or her 10th anniversary of membership or 10 years of Credited Service – see section explaining the Pension Enhancement Law), and he or she is reinstated to Tier 1 or Tier 2, his or her contribution rate will be based on his or her age at the start of the original membership.
HOWEVER, members of NYCERS, whose original membership was in a different public employee retirement system in New York State, will receive additional retirement credit for that service, but not membership credit.
THEREFORE, MEMBERSHIP REINSTATEMENT IN THIS CASE WOULD NOT BE ADVANTAGEOUS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRANSIT 25/55 PROGRAM. THE ONLY SERVICE USED IN THE CALCULATION OF THEIR SERVICE RETIREMENT BENEFIT IS ALLOWABLE SERVICE IN THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY.
Notes: This law’s impact varies based upon your tier, plan and may also affect any outstanding laws that may apply to you. Please contact NYCERS Customer Service Center to gain assistance on how this law may impact you.
Chapter 106 - Transfer of Credit Between Public Retirement Systems
Chapter 106 of the Laws of 1999 amends §43 of the RSSL in relation to transfer of credit between public retirement systems. Any member of the NYSLRS who retired from either NYCERS or BERS as a member of the career pension plan would be eligible to transfer their service credit to the NYSLRS. This law clarified that a member transferring service from NYCERS or BERS does not need to serve a minimum amount of service at the NYSLRS before filing for retirement. This law does not apply to members who have already received a pension payment.
Chapter 349 - Withdrawal from the Transit 25/55 Plan
Chapter 349 of the Laws of 1999 amended RSSL §604b.b(3) to enable elective participants of the Transit 25/55 plan who by age 62 will not have 25 years of allowable service in the Transit Authority to withdraw from the Transit 25/55 plan. The ability to withdraw was only open from the period beginning November 1, 1999 to January 30, 2000.
Eligible participants who file under this amendment received a refund of their required additional member contributions under the Transit 25/55 plan, without interest.