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Mid Career

What you Need to Know

Buying Back Time

Prior service is City or State service performed before the member's membership date. This service does not need to be BERS-eligible service, as long as it was eligible for credit at any one of the New York City or State retirement systems. To purchase credit for prior service, a Tier 1, 2 or 4 members must pay an amount equal to the amount of contributions they would have paid had they been a member when the service was performed, plus interest through the date of purchase. To purchase credit for prior service, a Tier 6 member must pay 6% of the pensionable wages earned during the period being purchased, plus interest through the date of purchase.

In most cases, a member participating in an Early Retirement Tier/Plan must also pay any additional member contributions (AMCs) that would have been payable, had they been a member when the service was performed, plus interest through the date of purchase. Prior service cannot be credited, even if already paid, unless the member has at least 2 years of membership service. Receiving credit for prior service purchased does not change the member's membership date or tier.

Credited Service

Full-time employees receive service credit as long as they are active on payroll, from the date of employment to the date of retirement, termination, resignation, or death, and excluding leaves without pay and certain other unpaid statuses (also called "breaks in service").

Part-time employees receive service credit based on the number of hours or days worked per year. There are three categories of part-time employment:

  1. Non-school-based part-time employment is credited at the rate of one year of credited service per 1,827 hours worked. This classification includes, among others, part-time employees working at DOE headquarters and all part-time transferred contributors.
  2. School-based part-time employment (excluding service as a substitute teacher) is credited at the rate of one year of credited service per 1,470 hours worked. This classification includes, among others, school lunch helpers and school crossing guards.
  3. Service as a substitute teacher is credited at the rate of one year per 180 days worked. This classification includes per diem and per session substitute teachers.

Changing Jobs

A vested member is a member that has accrued enough credited service to apply for service retirement when they reach the normal retirement age for their Tier/Plan. A member who has not vested cannot apply for service retirement, even if they reach the normal retirement age for their Tier/Plan. A vested member who leaves service before their normal retirement age is known as a vested deferred member and has a right to receive a service retirement benefit when they reach the normal retirement age.

It's important to check in with a BERS representative if you choose to change job titles to ensure that you can maintain your plan rights and keep your account in good standing. You are automatically vested in the Tier 6 Plan if you have a minimum of 5 years of credited service. Depending on your new title you may be eligible to remain a BERS member or you may need to transfer your membership to another retirement system. Make sure to get in touch with a BERS representative to discuss your specific situation.

Maximizing Your Savings

Remember that in retirement, your income will be significantly less than it is today. You must begin planning now to ensure that in addition to your pension and Social Security payments, you have sufficient savings to maintain your desired standard of living. There are two ways to maintain your standard of living: reduce your expenses, or increase your savings. In retirement, you will still have the following expenses: electricity, gas, telephone, water and sewage, car insurance, food, housekeeping supplies, clothing, transportation, health, entertainment, gifts, home furnishings, pets, personal care products and services, and probably a few others.

Rather than cut back on your needs, we encourage you to increase your retirement income today by joining or increasing your contributions to the BERS Tax Deferred Annuity Program (TDA), authorized under section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. The BERS TDA Program is specifically designed to encourage retirement savings for those in education service. You may choose to make your TDA contributions on a pre-tax basis, on a Roth basis, or a combination of the two. When you make pre-tax contributions, your savings are not taxed now (when you, as an active worker, are likely in a higher tax bracket), but upon withdrawal in retirement (when you will likely be in a lower tax bracket).

Regular, consistent contributions, made while you are working, will make certain that you have sufficient monies to meet your retirement needs. If you are unsure about how much you can afford to save, start small with 3% of your gross pay. If you would like to increase your current TDA contributions, you can contribute any percentage of your salary up to 85%. Consider saving more today, to ensure that you retire on a solid foundation!

Plan Ahead

Retirement Approximations

An approximation is an estimate of what the member will receive as their monthly payment once they retire. Approximations are calculated by multiplying the approximate final average salary (FAS) by the years of credited service accrued as of the desired retirement date. This result is then multiplied by a multiplying factor that is dependent on the years of credited service a member has accrued.

Members can request an approximation by contacting BERS or can generate an approximation by logging into their Member Self Service (MSS) Portal account.

Scheduling a Consultation

Members can schedule an appointment to have a retirement consultation at any time. BERS Benefit Examiners can review your account balances, provide an approximation of retirement benefits, and discuss the BERS Tax Deferred Annuity program. To schedule an appointment, you can contact the BERS office. In person and virtual appointments are available Monday - Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm at the BERS Walk-in center located at 65 Court Street in Brooklyn.

How to Contact BERS

Get in touch with BERS. Details are here.

Helpful Resources

Things you Should be Aware of if you have received a BERS Loan

BERS Contact Card with Form Processing Timeline

How to Calculate Monthly Earned Interest for TDA Accounts