As New York State Comptroller, I am responsible for overseeing the New York State and Local Retirement Systemt (NYSLRS). As fiduciary and trustee of the pension fund, I act in the best interests of the System’s members and retirees. As administrator of one of the largest defined benefit plans in the nation, I am proud to report that our pension fund is strong and secure and has served New York State well for more than 90 years. It is a well-managed and well-funded plan that has helped to provide retirement security for millions of NYSLRS retirees who, in turn, have provided billions of dollars in economic support to communities throughout New York. In an effort to be transparent, my office publishes a tremendous amount of Retirement System-related information. I am pleased to work with RPEA to highlight pension system information that is of particular interest to you.
About the New York State and Local Retirement System
The New York State Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) was established on January 3, 1921. Legislation in 1966 created The New York State Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), and membership of all police officers and firefighters was transferred from ERS at that time. Today, the two systems are collectively called the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is the Administrator of NYSLRS.
Overall membership in NYSLRS is 1,122,626. This includes 652,030 members and 470,596 retirees and beneficiaries.
The number of retirees is increasing more quickly than the number of members. For example, in 1998, retirees represented 33% of NYSLRS’ members. By fiscal year 2018, that number had increased to just over 42%.
There are over 3,000 employers in NYSLRS. The State is the largest employer, but there are also county, city, town, village, school and miscellaneous (like water & sanitation districts) employers.
NYSLRS administers 346 retirement plans, making it one of the most complex systems in the nation.
Assets of NYSLRS are held in the Common Retirement Fund (Fund), and the State Comptroller is the trustee.
The Fund is the third largest pension fund in the United States.
The Fund’s assets come from three main sources: employee or member contributions, employer contributions and investment income. 75% of paid benefits comes from investment earnings.
The value of the Fund’s invested assets as of March 31, 2018 was $207.4 billion.
The Fund’s investments reported a positive return of 11.35% for the 2018 fiscal year.
About NYSLRS Members
58% of ERS members are in Tiers 3 & 4 while 33% are in Tier 6.
In ERS, 28% of members are age 45 to 54 and 26% are age 55 to 64.
About NYSLRS Retirees
Of the 470,596 retirees and beneficiaries in the System, 370,329 (79%) remain New York State residents. Consequently, benefit payments surpassing $9.8 billion in 2018 alone reached the State’s communities and businesses.
NYSLRS paid $12.1 billion in benefits in Fiscal Year 2018.
Retirees are responsible for $12 billion in economic activity in New York State. They paid $1.9 billion in property taxes, which represents 3% of the total collected. Their spending is responsible for creating an estimated 73,000 jobs.
The average pension for all ERS retirees is $23,680. For those ERS employees who retired in 2018, the average is $29,139.
Approximately 27% of all retirees receive less than $10,000 annually. 47% receive less than $20,000 annually. 64% receive less than $30,000 annually.
Message to RPEA from Comptroller DiNapoli
Highlights from Comptroller DiNapoli’s Keynote Address at RPEA’s 2017 Annual Meeting