Full-time (with appointments of 3 months or more), permanent, employees are required to join a Retirement System within 30 days of their appointment/hire date.
Part-time employees and those with provisional or temporary appointments have the option to join a Retirement System at any time. No Retirement System membership will be established, nor any service credit or contributions reported, however, until the appropriate Retirement System election and membership applications have been received and processed.
Your selection of a Retirement System is an important decision, so please review your options very carefully.
Once your election is made, you will generally not be allowed to change Retirement Systems, unless you have a change in your employment title making you eligible for a different Retirement System for the first time and you opt to change to that System within 30 days of your eligible appointment.
It is important to note that membership in a Retirement System may not otherwise be changed or withdrawn during your current or any subsequent employment with any SUNY or community college campus.
Retirement Plan Options
Eligibility for a Retirement System depends on a variety of factors, including your Bargaining Unit, your position classification, and whether you are full or part-time.
NYS Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) – all employees are eligible
ERS is a defined benefit (pension) retirement system. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the Final Average Salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement.
Police & Fire Retirement System (PFRS) – University Police titles are eligible
PFRS is a defined benefit (pension) retirement system. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the Final Average Salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement.
NYS Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) – academic titles are eligible
TRS is a defined benefit (pension) retirement system. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the Final Average Salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement.
Membership is open to employees in a select group of titles, including: all faculty titles, librarian or coach titles, or in the titles of chancellor, president, vice-president, provost, dean, associate dean, or assistant dean.
SUNY Optional Retirement Program (ORP) – unclassified (UUP, M/C) titles are eligible
ORP is a defined contribution retirement rystem. Retirement benefits will depend on the value upon distribution of individually owned annuity contracts purchased on behalf of electing employees through employer and required employee contributions from one or more of the currently Authorized Investment Providers for the SUNY ORP, including: Fidelity, TIAA, VALIC, and Voya.
The SUNY ORP is designed to allow retirement at any age. Distributions from ORP contracts are permitted any time after separation from services, subject to an IRS 10% penalty for distributions prior to age 59 ½ , unless separating from service after reaching the normal retirement age of 55. Because the SUNY ORP is a NYS Public Retirement Plan, ORP distributions are generally exempt from NYS Income Taxes.
Membership is open to employees in the Unclassified (e.g., UUP and MC-13) service who are full-time; and part-time UUP employees with Term appointments, MC employees who are at least half-time, and employees designated as eligible under local community college contract, are also eligible to elect.
Additional Retirement Plan Information:
- Retirement Programs for New Faculty & Staff – SUNY Publication with additional information about the Retirement System Options for New Employees.
- Retirement Programs Comparison Chart – A side-by-side comparative view of some of the key features of and differences between the different Retirement Systems.
- Retirement Programs Comparison Video – a four-minute video describing the main differences between defined benefit pension plans (ERS, PFRS, TRS) and defined contribution plan (ORP).
Ready to enroll? For information on how, visit our Retirement Election & Enrollment web page!
For further information and/or assistance, please contact the Benefits Office at your State-Operated College or Community College campus.
Please note that this information has been prepared as a general summary of the benefits available to SUNY employees. It cannot provide you with the complete details on all benefits related matters. You should carefully review and research the options available to you before making any enrollment decisions. Only authorized representatives from each plan administrator or benefit plan provider are adequately knowledgeable and experienced to fully address your questions or to assist you with many of the technical aspects of their respective programs. The information contained in all SUNY publications and web sites is intended only as a basic summary overview and to provide you with basic points for your consideration. You are invited to contact representatives from the benefit plan in which you are interested for additional information or with specific questions about their respective benefits or coverage.