To the Editor: I have been working for New York City Transit for over 26 years, and before that, 12 years with the Human Resources Administration, all of it while a member of the New York City Employees' Retirement System.
I was told numerous times by NYCERS counselors at the walk-in center at 370 Jay St. in Brooklyn that I had to complete 25 years at Transit for my previous service to be credited when I retired, and then both pensions would be combined.
After 26 years, at age 62, less than 6 months from last counseling session, I decided to retire. But instead of combining both pensions, as I was told, NYCERS decided to change the law/rule, and I will be receiving two different pension checks with a substantial reduction.
NYCERS did not give any explanation for these changes. After I complained three separate times, I have yet to be given an effective date for this change or even the specifics of the rule change. I spoke to Timothy Booth of NYCERS about an appeal and was told that they don't have an appeal process. In other words, their word is final.
I have contacted TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano to see if he can assist me. I was told Local 100 had not been informed of these changes, either, although it has a member that sits on the NYCERS board.
NYCERS is changing rules during this pandemic year and has been sneaky about it. This is an issue that the union must confront NYCERS about. Transit members should have the right to know of all rule changes, with an effective date, so they can make informed decisions as they contribute their hard-earned money to the pension system.
This will harm other transit workers who complete the 25/55 transit contract and previously worked in other city agencies. I have also been told that if you work for Transit for less than 25 years, you are entitled to get credit for your previous pension time and have it combined as one pension check. Had I been told earlier, I would have done that! No one wants to stay working longer than they have to stay due to the stressful conditions that transit workers work under.
As a third-rail Maintainer and a Trackman, I worked outside during winter storms and sizzling hot weather and gave my all to this job. Being able to combine both pensions rather than splitting them would have meant tens of thousands of dollars more to someone in my situation.
The Chief has always been a fighter for civil servants and kept us informed. That is why I want to share what has been done to me in hope it will help others.
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