Among the numerous advantages of civil service that employees look forward to is a secure retirement. Retirement planning is essential, regardless of what career path you’ve chosen. Ideally, you want to make sure that when your salary stops coming in, you have a secure source of income to support your lifestyle after retirement.
Learning about the retirement benefits for civil service employees isn’t just imperative for people who are close to their retirements—it’s also important for individuals who are looking to start their career in civil service.
As a leading civil service exam prep institute, we’ve helped many candidates successfully land jobs in various NY public safety organizations, including the Suffolk County Police Department, NYC Sanitation Department, and the NYC Fire Department. During our courses, we also get many questions from students regarding the various benefits offered to these departments.
Here, we’ve highlighted some important elements that determine your retirement benefits. Keep in mind that different pension funds have different requirements and tiers, so this is just a general overview of pension funds in New York.
Service credit is one of the most important factors that determines the allowance individuals receive after retirement. This is the credit you earn for the number of hours worked on the job.
It is also a key factor in determining disability retirement, death benefits, vested rights, and member loans. Credit is not given for periods where you don’t receive a salary, such as leaves without pay.
Unused, Unpaid Sick Leave
Credit from unused, unpaid sick leaves can be added to the service under some circumstances. It is generally included in benefit calculations if the individual is a New York State employee, such as an NYS court officer, or if their employer has opted for the sick leave benefit.
This benefit often comes with certain terms and conditions, such as that it cannot be used to qualify for a better retirement plan, so it’s important to read the fine print beforehand.
Credit for Past Service
Past credit allows employees to use credit from a previous job to get a higher pension. Basically, if you received a salary from another public employer in New York prior to the current one, you may also be entitled to certain additional benefits. Your service from the previous employer can be re-credited, and you will be eligible for a higher tier.
In many cases, individuals who worked in any branch of the US military and moved then into a civilian role are also eligible for retirement credit.
Military Service Credit
When applicable, military service credit can help boost your pension amount too. For instance, many military police (MP) officers opt for civilian law enforcement agencies after they retire from the military. In this case, they may be applicable for a higher service tier compared to other public civil servants.
Bonus: Benefits While On the Job
Regardless of the demanding job, tens of thousands of applicants apply to take civil service exams for the fire, police, and sanitation departments of New York. The reliable benefits package and competitive salary are extremely attractive to most.
The starting salary is $42,500, and it increases by $25,292 after employees cross the five-and-a-half-year mark. Additionally, workers also get longevity pay, overtime, holiday pay, and a uniform allowance.
Other benefits include optional retirement after 22 years of services, annuity fund, life insurance, and medical benefits that also include prescription, dental, and vision coverage.
Get Started Now, and You Can Enjoy a Comfortable Retirement
Many public safety employers in New York offer the opportunity to retire early. This means that after working for 20 to 25 years, you can start making retirement plans. So if you become an officer or firefighter at the age of 25, you can start enjoying your life after retirement at just 45 or 50.
Surprisingly enough, many cops and firefighters don’t want to retire early. The high job satisfaction level and camaraderie entice them to work for as long as they can. Regardless, you still have the early retirement option with excellent pensions and retirement packages that can give you a chance to spend more time with family and pursue other passions.
If you’re planning to take up a career as a police officer or firefighter, you’ll have to take the civil service exam first. If you’re looking to boost your chances of acing the exams, register for comprehensive preparatory classes at Civil Service Success.