Frequently Asked Questions
Qualified Pension Plan FAQs
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:
You may make a lump sum payment in the full amount of the outstanding loan.
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 just started with the Board of Education and enrolled in the pension plan.I was told I had to join the
What is the 57/5 Program?
The 57/5 program is a retirement program within Tier 4. Members who joined the BOE on or after
June 28, 1995 and who are in eligible positions are mandated to participate in the 57/5 program.
This program allows a member with 10 years of membership service to retire at age 57 and receive
an unreduced retirement allowance.
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 day’s
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 Annuity FAQs
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
718-935-5400 or stop by the office on the 16th floor at 65 Court Street, Room 1603,
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
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.