ADJUNCTS and CONTINUING EDUCATION TEACHERS: All adjuncts are eligible to join the NYC Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and Tax-Deferred Annuity programs from their first semester at CUNY. You can get application forms from your campus Human Resources Office or the TRS website. The PSC has a brochure that explains the basics of the TRS pension for CUNY adjuncts, and you can always call the Retirement Benefits Counselor at the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund at 212-354-5230.
CLIP TEACHERS: CLIP teachers who are not presently a member or retiree of any other New York City pension system may join the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). You can get application forms from your campus Human Resources Office or the TRS website.
THE TRS OPTION
The Teachers Retirement System plan includes a pension, death benefits, and a disability pension. It’s funded by the employee and the employer.
Here’s how TRS works
After enrolling, 3% of your gross salary will be deducted from all your CUNY paychecks by automatic payroll deduction. You’ll earn 5% interest. After contributing for ten calendar years, you no longer have to make contributions. The university will continue to make contributions. Important: If you do not see your employee pension contributions being deducted from your paychecks, please contact TRS immediately.
How TRS calculates your service
A year of credited service is equated as 360 paid adjunct hours. A three-hour course over a fifteen-week semester is 45 hours; a six-hour course with one weekly paid office hour over a fifteen-week semester is 105 hours. Starting with the spring 2020 semester, the paid office hour (1 per week for each 3-5-hour course, 2 for 6-8 hours, 3 for 9+ hours) will also be credited, so a 3-hour courses is 60 hours per semester.
After accumulating five years of credited service you will be vested. This means you will be eligible when you reach the age of 62 to receive a pension based on your years of service, whether or not you earn further credit in TRS. If you want to buy back prior service you may do so two calendar years after your initial enrollment, at 3% of your earnings during that service plus 5% interest compounded annually. A member can also purchase prior service credit if he or she has less than 2 years of membership service to save on the interest that accumulates on the cost of prior service. The prior service will be posted to the member’s account once he or she reaches 2 years of membership service. For example, if you are 62, have two calendar years of TRS membership and buy back five credited years, you can start collecting your pension. Although you may continue to work after you start collecting your pension, deductions and contributions will cease.
Starting the Pension
A member can retire between the ages of 55 and 62; if the member does not have 30 years of total service at retirement, an age reduction will be applied to the calculation if the member is not age 62 at retirement. If you are employed by New York State of New York City after your retirement date and are under 65 years of age, you cannot exceed $30,000.00 in earnings after retirement. If you are employed by New York State or New York City after your retirement date and are 65 years of age or older, there is no limit on your earnings after retirement.
Calculating how much you’ll get after retirement
To calculate your retirement benefits, you must know your Final Average Salary (FAS), which is the average salary of your highest three consecutive years of credited service. An annualized year is defined as 360 times the wages earned in a year, divided by the hours of credited service in that year.
For instance, if you earned $10,000 in a year and were credited with 180 hours, the formula would look like this: $10,000 x 360=$3,600,000 / 180=FAS of $20,000.
The retirement allowance for those who have less than 20 credited years of service is 1.67% of your Final Average Salary times your years of service. Someone who has 10 credited years of service and a FAS of $15,000 will get $2500 a year.
The retirement allowance for those who have over 20 credited years of service is 2% times the Final Average Salary times years of service. Those with over 30 years of service add an additional 1.5% times the FAS times the years of service after 30.
For NY State residents, these pension payments are exempt from state and city taxes.
Ordinary Disability Retirement benefits are available to a member of TRS who has 10 or more years of service credit (3600 hours). Benefit schedules and formulas are spelled out in the laws relating to Tier IV. There is no minimum service requirement if a member is approved for and retires under a Tier IV Accident Disability Retirement.
Of further interest to part-timers:
- Harsh New Pension Law Approved. Tier 6 Slams Future CUNY Employees – Clarion, April 2012
- Adjunct Pensions: A Surprising Return — Clarion, February 2004, Revised September 2011
- If You’re in Another Retirement System — Clarion, January 2006
- Act Now on Adjunct Pensions — Clarion, January 2010