Divorce and Your Benefits

Service Credit

Divorce and Your Benefits

NYSLRS members receive service credit for all their public employment beginning with the date they joined NYSLRS. Some members can purchase service credit for employment before they joined NYSLRS or for military service. For most members, the total amount of service credit at retirement will directly affect the amount of their pension. Read more about Service Credit for Tiers 2 through 6.

Additional service credit, whether purchased or given because of a State-enacted retirement incentive, may also affect the ex-spouse’s share, depending on when it was earned. The most commonly used equitable distribution formula for a public pension was established by the State Court of Appeals in Majauskas v. Majauskas. Service credit is a factor in both the numerator and the denominator:

50% x the years of service earned during the marriage

the member’s total service credit


Purchased Service

When a member purchases service credit for public employment before they joined, NYSLRS can credit the ex-spouse with a portion of that service if the employment occurred during the marriage. NYSLRS cannot credit the ex-spouse with service earned outside the marital period even if it was purchased during the marriage. Similarly, service credit earned during the marriage will be credited to the spouse even if purchased after the marriage ends.


Additional Service

In some cases, members may receive additional service credit when they retire. For example, eligible Tier 1 and 2 members receive an additional month of service credit for each year of credited service at retirement, up to a maximum of two additional years (Article 19 of the Retirement and Social Security Law [RSSL]). Members who retire under a State-enacted retirement incentive may also receive additional service credit if the incentive provides this benefit.

In these cases, NYSLRS will not allocate a portion of the additional service to the ex-spouse if the DRO defines the numerator (marital period) as an exact number of months or years. If the numerator is an open date period (for example, “service earned between the date of marriage and the date of the commencement of the divorce action”), the additional service will be prorated in the numerator and included as part of the total service credit in the denominator.

As a general rule, any additional service will not affect the ex-spouse’s share if the DRO specifies a flat dollar distribution (rather than a percentage) or calculates the ex-spouse’s share using a hypothetical date.


Rev. 2/23