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This is a tough but necessary email, especially in light of the coronavirus. Below is an important message from Ron Gross, our representative to the NYSTRS. Please read it carefully and pay attention to the important information that he is providing. I continue to be amazed by the great work that all of our members are doing to get through this crisis together. Stay safe, stay strong, and we will get through this as a united union, we are stronger together.

Important Message from NYSTRS Representative Ron Gross Regarding Death Benefits

I hope you and your family are doing well. So much is going on but I want to focus on one item that we have discussed prior but now it seems, unfortunately, extremely appropriate to review once again. As a member of the Teachers Retirement System, you are entitled to a death benefit worth three times your salary (assuming you ave been teaching at least three years. It is critical that you check who your beneficiary is since you may have had some life changes since you first signed up. Please refer to your Benefit Profile or set up a mynystrs account at to verify your beneficiaries. I have attached a change a beneficiary form to this email if you need to make changes.

We also have an option to "File for Disability Protection" if you have at least ten years of service credit in NYSTRS. Filing for protection gives your family significantly more money if you pass away prior to retirement. Since this epidemic is fast moving and uncertain, it may be wise to print the forms necessary and have them on file in the UNLIKELY event that you might need them in hurry. Here are the basics that you need to know IF and ONLY IF you become critically ill or need surgery:

  • Print the TRS disability form 54.1. You will only need pages 1,2 and 7.
  • Fill out all the information requested. No need to put down any retirement date
  • Where it says identify your condition or illness, write something specific to your condition such as surgery or coronavirus
  • Select Largest Non-Declining lump sum as your option (page 2). That is your only choice for this protection
  • Identify your beneficiary
  • Sign and notarize
  • Fill out Page 7 with your doctors phone number
  • Bring to post office and certify mail it to the address on page 1. You can fax it to the number on page 1 if you are short on time.

Some might be unsure why we would do this if we became sick. The simple answer is because there is no downside. You are not retiring and it is only valid if you pass away (that could be the one downside).  If you were to pass away, your family would get an amount higher than the triple death benefit because they will treat you as if you retired on the day you passed away. That means your beneficiary will get the disability largest non-declining lump sum plus 50 percent of your death benefit (please refer to your profile for your amounts). Please see the attached slide as an example. Ninety-nine percent of teachers that file for protection recover and simply rescind their request after they feel better. What you cant do is send it up when you are not sick but you are worried that you will become sick. 

I realize this is a difficult conversation to have but it is important that you share this information with your loved ones. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me. Stay healthy.

Change of Beneficiary Form

Filing for Protection Sample Form

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