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More online tools coming for retirement planning, management


How to plan wisely and with accurate information for your retirement is a subject that state employees think about a lot. The Office of the State Comptroller, which administers the NY State and Local Retirement System, has come up with more online tools to help with that.

Online toolsTwo representatives from NYSLERS, Executive Deputy Comptroller Colleen Gardner and Call Center Area Manager Alexander Audino (a PEF member), presented a workshop on improvements to Retirement Online for PEF convention delegates in September and the delegates had lots of questions for them.

The OSC staff has spent years helping to develop and test features of the online system and are introducing those features in stages, with more new tools coming this fall and in early 2020.

Gardner said 219,000 members of the retirement system are currently enrolled in Retirement Online. The system is designed to protect the security of enrollees’ personal and confidential information, so don’t be surprised if it asks you lots of questions before it lets you access your system profile.

Gardner cautioned users of the system to always give their personal email address, instead of their work email address.

The system has been allowing members to manage their profiles and borrow money from their future pensions.

New tools to be introduced soon will let you:

• Apply for retirement and upload documents;
• Apply to purchase service credits;
• Make payments on your pension loan;
• Make changes to your pension loan;
• Generate an estimate of your retirement benefits; and
• Designate pension beneficiaries.

Another useful tool will be the ability to generate an income verification letter, which is documentation retirees may need when they apply for a mortgage or other bank loan.

The new tool for estimating your future pension will be the first one to come on line and it will give you lots of flexibility to see how your benefit would likely change depending on which potential retirement date you enter.

However, the system can only use the actual payroll information and projections will be based on the PS&T contract in effect when you request your likely retirement benefit information. Since PEF and the state are currently in contract negotiations, the system cannot forecast what the effects of a future agreement might be.

“The closer you are to your retirement, the more accurate the estimate will be,” Audino said. “The system updates every two weeks as you get paid.” He added that the system will let you download an estimate or print it out. “Once you apply for retirement, you can edit your application or rescind it right up to the day before your retirement date, which is your first day off payroll.”

Regarding making payments on your pension loan, the online system allows you to do that now, but when the improved program rolls out it will also let you make one-time payments.

One thing to remember about Retirement Online is that it is not available all day every day. The program is available weekdays, but usually shuts down around 5 p.m.

In response to questions and discussion with the delegates, Audino confirmed that, to reduce the wait for your first retirement benefit payment, you may want to pick a retirement date toward the end of a month, but not the last day of the month.

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