Detailed information on retirement benefits and options is available on the SUNY Benefits site. A SUNY brochure, Retirement Programs for New Faculty and Staff, is also available on that site. Please refer to both for the most in-depth information; the following is an overview.

Defined Benefit Plans

Defined benefit plans provide a fixed, lifetime monthly income at retirement. The benefits you receive at retirement will be determined based on a benefit formula, using a specific formula factor, your final average salary, age, and years of service. Benefits are guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of New York.

Defined Contribution Plan: The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)

Defined contribution plan benefits are based on the amounts contributed by the employer and employee and the success of the investments. The amount of future accumulations available upon retirement varies according to investment selection and performance. The amount of benefits you receive at retirement will be based on the amount of funds contributed to your account, the investment earnings on those funds, your age when you take income, and the payment option(s) you choose. Benefits are not guaranteed.

The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) currently has four investment providers:

For more information on the ORP, please refer to the SUNY Optional Retirement Program site. Employees may also contact Grace Bonnell, the benefits administrator in Human Resources, (914) 251-6091, for more information.

Tiers and Retirement Plan Contributions

An employee is assigned to a tier based on the date of membership in one of the retirement plans. The amounts contributed by the employer and employee are determined by the employee’s tier:

  • Tier 6 is April 1, 2012 to present
  • Tier 5 is January 1, 2010 to March 31, 2012
  • Tier 4a is July 17, 1992 to December 31, 2009
  • Tier 4 is September 1, 1983 to July 16, 1992
  • Tier 3 is July 27, 1976 to August 31, 1983
  • Tier 2 is July 1, 1973 to July 26, 1976
  • Tier 1 is membership prior to July 1, 1973

Full-time employees: Participation in a retirement system is mandatory for full-time employees. Selection of the retirement system must be made within the first 30 days of employment and, once made, may not be changed. If a full-time faculty member (or other full-time employee) has not selected his or her retirement system within the 30 days, he or she is automatically enrolled in TRS.

Part-time employees are not required to join a retirement system, but may do so at any time if they wish. All part-time employees may join ERS, and part-time employees who have term appointments are also eligible for the ORP. Part-time employees in faculty, librarian, or coach titles are also eligible for TRS.

Once employees elect to join a particular retirement program, they may not withdraw their membership as long as they remain employed, and they may not switch from one program to another unless they move from a position where they were ineligible to join TRS or the ORP to an eligible position. An employee with a part-time temporary appointment whose contract changes to a part-time term appointment becomes eligible for the ORP. In this case, if the employee is currently enrolled in either the ERS or TRS, he or she must notify Human Resources within 30 days of the term appointment in order to switch from ERS or TRS to the ORP.

For more detailed information on each retirement system and to enroll, please contact Grace Bonnell, the benefits administrator in Human Resources, (914) 251-6091.

Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings Plans (Optional)

These optional programs allow employees to invest money in supplemental retirement accounts with pretax dollars through payroll deduction. By doing so, employees reduce their taxable income while saving money for retirement. The money is subject to taxes in the year(s) it is withdrawn. The following plans are available:

SUNY Voluntary 403(b) Tax-Deferred Annuity Program
This 403(b) tax-deferred variable annuity investment retirement savings plan is administered by and available to employees of SUNY state-operated or community college campuses. The authorized investment providers are:
– Fidelity
– Voya

New York State Deferred Compensation Plan
This 457(b) tax-deferred mutual fund investment retirement savings plan is administered by the NYS Deferred Compensation Board and available to all New York State employees and employees of participating community colleges and localities.

Please contact the Benefits Office in Human Resources, (914) 251-6091, for further information. Detailed information is also available on the SUNY Voluntary Savings Plan and New York State Deferred Compensation Plan sites.