All adjuncts are eligible to join the New York City Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) and tax-deferred annuity programs from their first semester at CUNY.
The TRS Option
The Teachers' Retirement System plan includes a pension, death benefits and a disability pension. It is funded by the employee and the employer.
After enrolling, 3 percent of your gross salary will be deducted from all of your CUNY paychecks by automatic payroll deduction. You will earn 5 percent interest. After contributing for 10 calendar years, you no longer have to make contributions, but CUNY will continue to do so.
How TRS Calculates Your Service
A year of credited service is equated as 360 teaching hours, or 600 nonteaching hours. A three-hour course over a 15-week semester will earn you 45 hours; a six-hour course over the same period earns 90 hours.
After accumulating five years of credited service, you will be vested. This means you will be eligible, when you reach age 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 percent of your earnings during that service plus 5 percent interest compounded annually.
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.
Calculating How Much You Will Receive 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 example, if you earned $10,000 in one year and were credited with 180 hours, the formula for your FAS is: $10,000 x 360 = $3,600,000 / 180 = $20,000. The retirement allowance for those who have less than 20 credited years of service is 1.67 percent of your FAS multiplied by your years of service. Those who have 10 credited years of service and an FAS of $15,000 will receive $2,500 per year.
Application forms are avaiable from TRS and the Office of Human Resource Services. For additional information, you may read the PSC brochure (pdf) that explains the basics of the TRS pension for CUNY adjuncts, or you may call the PSC director of pension and welfare benefits, 212.354.1252.