Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most frequently asked questions made of BERS.

Qualified Pension Plan

How can I determine if I'm a member of BERS?        
Typically, your payroll stub displays a pension number. Pension numbers beginning with either 5 or 6 generally belong to BERS. BERS pension deductions are usually coded as BOE414(h) on your payroll stub.

I'm in tier 4 and have to work until I'm age 62 in order to get my pension, can I switch over to the 57/5 program?
No. A member of Tier 4 who was in an eligible position for the 25 Year Early Retirement Program on June 28, 1995 does not have the option of participating in the 57/5 program. A member in active service can retire with a reduced pension between the ages of 55 and 62.

How do I buy back prior service?
In order to purchase previous service (buyback) a member must complete an application to have the service reviewed for credit. On the application, the member must indicate what years of service they wish to buy and provide verification of service and salary. Acceptable forms of verification include W2's, Social Security printouts detailing the name of the employer, or end of the year payroll stubs that indicate earnings to date. Once this information is received by BERS, your service will be reviewed to determine if it is pensionable service.

How do I buy military service credit?
If you are a BERS member with 5 years of membership service and were honorably discharged after active service in a theatre of operation between WWII and 8/2/90, then you may be eligible to purchase up to 3 years of service.

How do I pay for prior service credit, and what is the cost?
The cost to buy-back service in Tiers 1 and 2 is based on your present earnings. The cost to buy-back service in Tiers 3 and 4 is based on the salary you were earning at the time the service was rendered, plus 5% interest. Military service will cost 3% of your salary from the last 12 months before you applied. You may pay for prior service credit in either a lump sum payment, post-tax payroll deductions, or with TDA funds (if applicable).

As a part-time worker, how do I accumulate years of credited service?
Those in a non-teaching job whose duties are regularly scheduled to be performed only during the school year (e.g. school aide, lunchroom worker), receive one year of credited service for 1,470 hours of work. Administrative hourly employees must work 1,827 hours for one year of credited service. Substitute teachers must work 180 days for the same credit.

If I have a loan and I die, what happens?
If you have an outstanding loan balance at the time of your death, and it is not in default, your loan may be insured. If insured, your loan will be liquidated (paid off). Loan insurance for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 loan becomes fully effective 90 days after the issuance of the loan. Loan insurance for a Tier 3 or Tier 4 loan becomes fully effective 30 days after the issuance of the loan. Loan insurance for a 55/25 or 57/5 loan becomes fully effective 30 days after the issuance of the loan.

If I take a pension loan how long do I have to repay it?
The maximum repayment period for a pension loan is 48 months.

Do I have to repay my loan before retiring?
Any outstanding loan balances must be satisfied prior to retiring. You have two options on repaying an outstanding loan at retirement:
  1. You may make a lump sum payment in the full amount of the outstanding loan.
  2. You may elect to have the outstanding loan balance removed from your ASF or MCAF account (you would have no out-of-pocket expense), however, your pension will be actuarially reduced. The reduction to your pension is a permanent reduction and continues for the life of your pension and that of any beneficiary you have designated to receive a pension upon your death.
I’m in Tier 3/4, does the City contribute to my pension?
The City of New York does not contribute to the individual account of a Tier 3/4 member. The City of New York does make employer contributions on an annual basis to the Board of Education Retirement System in amounts certified to cover the cost of benefits for Tier 3/4 members.

How much notice must I give the retirement system before I retire?
A Tier 1 or Tier 2 member must file a retirement application with BERS at least 30 days prior to the date of their retirement. A Tier 3/4 member is required to give only 1 days’ notice. It is in the best interest of all members to prepare for their retirement at least 90 days prior to the date they want to be retired. This period of time will allow the retirement system to have an approximation of benefits prepared and leave ample time for the member to make the wisest decision as to what retirement option they wish to take. Also, if a member has terminal leave, annual leave, or sick leave accruals, they should meet with their timekeeper to determine when they will no longer be on payroll. The retirement system requires this information in order to determine the correct retirement date.

I thought I wanted to retire, but I’ve changed my mind. What can I do?
A member may rescind their retirement application up to the day of retirement. Once the retirement date has arrived, the member is retired and may not rescind their application.

Tax Deferred Annuities

Can I take a TDA loan?
A member of the retirement system who has a balance of at least $2,000 may take a TDA loan. The maximum repayment period for a TDA loan is 60 months.

If I transfer my membership (e.g. to NYCERS) can I keep contributing to my TDA?
No. A BERS member who transfers their membership to NYCERS may not continue to contribute to the BERS TDA Program. You may be able to withdraw your TDA investment or roll it over into another investment vehicle such as another TDA, a 401(k) plan, 457 plan, or IRA.  If you elect to withdraw your TDA contributions prior to age 59 ½, you may be taxed and penalized for the premature withdrawal.

Who is eligible to join the TDA Program?

Any active member of BERS on payroll may join the TDA Program.

How do I join the TDA Program?
Contact BERS for a TDA Enrollment Form. You can call BERS at 929-305-3800 or stop by the office on the 16th floor at 65 Court Street, Room 1603, Brooklyn, NY.

When can I join the TDA Program?
You may enroll in the TDA Program at any time during the year. Contributions will begin approximately 60 days after your TDA Enrollment Form is received at BERS.

Can I change my TDA contribution rate?

You may change your TDA contribution rate at any time. Once you elect a contribution rate, that rate will continue until you change it by completing and submitting a TDA Investment or Election Change Form.

Can I select the investment option(s) for my TDA contributions?
When you enroll in the TDA Program, you select the allocation of your TDA contributions. You may change the allocation of your past or future contributions as often as once per quarter.

What are my options when I leave employment?
When you retire, resign, or otherwise end your employment with the City of New York, you have several options available to you.
  • If You Are Retired: At retirement, you may arrange to receive regular payments through the purchase of an annuity, make a direct withdrawal, rollover, or transfer of your account. You can also elect TDA Deferral status at retirement, which allows you to leave your contributions and investment results in the TDA Program until Required Minimum Distributions begin at the age of 70½.
  • If You Are a Vested Member: If you leave employment after attaining vested rights in the pension system, you may withdraw the balance of your TDA account or you may elect to have a TDA Deferral status. Electing TDA Deferral status allows you to continue your participation in the Fixed and Variable Programs on a tax-deferred basis.
  •  If You Are Not a Vested Member: Should you leave employment for any reason before vesting in the pension system, you may withdraw the balance of your TDA account at any time. If you do not withdraw your QPP account balance, your TDA account will continue to accrue investment returns for up to five years from the date of your resignation. A withdrawal of your QPP account balance will automatically terminate your participation in the TDA Program.
When must I begin to withdraw my TDA funds?
If you retire, you must begin receiving Required Minimum Distributions of your post-1986 account value by April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 70½, and your December 31, 1986 account value at age 75. Once distributions begin, a minimum amount is required each year. If you are still in active service when you reach age 70½, a required minimum distribution of your post-1986 account value must begin by April 1 of the year following your retirement and each December 31 thereafter.