Memo To:   All Buffalo Teachers

From:         Rich Nigro, President, BTF

Date:          January 26, 2024


Subject:     Fix Tier Six

We need your help! One of the biggest legislative priorities for the BTF and NYSUT is bringing equity to the later tiers of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. This especially includes Tier 6, but also Tier 5.


Back on April 1, 2012, new members of the Teachers’ Retirement System began to be classified as “Tier 6”. This followed Tier 5, which includes teachers with initial dates of membership between 1/1/2010 and 3/31/2012. The legislation was passed by the NYS Assembly and Senate at the urging of our former governors, David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo.


While Tier 5 was harmful to our members, Tier 6 is far worse. That is why we are asking each of you to sign onto NYSUT’s “Fix Tier 6” campaign. We need everyone’s help with this, including our Tier 4 members. Below are some ways Tier 6 is far different (and much worse) than Tier 4.

  • Minimum retirement age without penalty is 63 (even if the teacher has 30 years of service)
  • Members must pay into the retirement system for the entirety of their careers
  • The contribution members make varies depending on salary and is as high as 6% (Tier 4 members paid 3% but stopped paying after 10 years of service or membership)
  • The Service Factor calculation that ultimately determines pension benefits is less favorable
  • Purchasing Prior Service is considerably more expensive
  • Calculation of Final Average Salary is over 5 consecutive years instead of 3


As an example, consider a teacher with a $100,000 Final Average Salary who retires at age 55 with 32 years of service and elects the maximum benefit. A retiree under Tier 4 would receive a $63,000 annual pension but a Tier 6 retiree would receive just $28,320 annually! In addition, the Tier 6 retiree would have paid tens of thousands more through the years in member contributions.


Please visit and click on the “Get Involved” button to show your support. You also may scan the QR code below. Our Local Union Name is Buffalo Teachers Federation. Together, we can do this! We need to attract and retain quality educators and that will be increasingly more difficult without legislative changes to the retirement system.


Please remember that with the help and support of Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, an enhancement was made to Tier 4 in the year 2000 that ended lifetime member contributions. ALL of us need to be there for our Tier 5 and Tier 6 brothers and sisters. Thank you in advance for your support.