Working After Retirement
The New York State Retirement and Social Security Law regulates post-retirement employment for all members of the New York State and Local Retirement System.
Section 150 of the Civil Service Law provides that a retiree's pension shall be suspended during periods of reemployment in the public sector. Post-retirement earnings from public sector employment are regulated by Sections 211 and 212 of the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL). Sections 211 and 212 of the RSSL provide for the reemployment of a retiree without loss or diminution of pension.
Public sector employment is employment with New York State, or a county, city, town, village, school district, public authority or public benefit corporation in New York State, including teaching service in a public elementary or secondary school or BOCES, or any part of the SUNY or CUNY Systems. Also included is employment with the City of New York.
A person employed under either Section 211 or 212 may continue to receive his or her retirement allowance. Post-retirement employment on this basis will not provide any additional retirement benefits.
Earnings from public employment, which exceed the Section 212 limit and for which Section 211 approval is not granted, will result in the suspension of the retirement allowance during the period of that employment.
Disability retirees are not eligible for employment under Sections 211 or 212.
Section 211 of the RSSL recognizes that Section 211 waivers play an important role in New York State's workforce management needs, particularly in law enforcement, as well as in filling other high-demand jobs, such as nurses and school bus drivers. There are legitimate needs for hiring retirees including the transfer of knowledge to new hires, the continuation of vital work until a permanent replacement can be hired, and the absence of non-retirees with the experience or qualifications required to perform necessary government functions. While not a substitute for hiring and retaining new workers, in some cases hiring retirees may be necessary.
According to State Civil Service Commission records, the overwhelming majority of Section 211 waivers are granted to retired law enforcement personnel who have earned pensions under the provisions of the applicable retirement system. This is attributable to the need for highly trained security personnel, particularly in the post 9/11 environment, and the abundant supply of retired law enforcement personnel. Under the RSSL, police officers can retire after 20 years of service.
Section 211 waivers for public retirees returning to work in public service are generally required to enable the public retiree to earn more than $35,000 while also collecting a pension. Section 211 waivers are only awarded when the public employer requests one and can demonstrate that the criteria established in Section 211 has been met.
For Frequently Asked Questions regarding Section 211, visit the FAQ page.
Section 212 of the RSSL provides that, beginning January 1st of the calendar year in which a retiree attains age 65, there is no limitation on public sector earnings.
If a retiree is age 65 or older, there is no dollar limit on earnings from public sector employment which is rendered on or after January 1, 2002.
For retirees who have not reached the age of 65, Section 212 permits limited earnings during each calendar year without jeopardizing pension benefits. The current earnings limitation, beginning January 1, 2020, is $35,000.
In the year of retirement, the Section 212 limit applies to the period between the retirement date and December 31st. In subsequent years, the limit applies to a full calendar year.
Employers or retirees seeking information on post-retirement earnings covered under Section 212 should contact the Retirement System. Additional information on working after retirement is available from the Office of the State Comptroller.