Retirement Planning

Eligibility for Retirement

To be eligible for service retirement, employees must be at least age 50 and have five or more years of CalPERS-credited service.

Note: Employees who are unable to work due to disability may qualify for Disability Retirement prior to age 50 if they meet the requirement of five or more years of CalPERS-credited service.

Obtaining a Retirement Estimate

Usually when employees start thinking about retirement, they begin wondering about how much they will receive in CalPERS retirement benefits. The best way to find out is by getting a retirement benefit estimate.

If you are more than one year from retirement:

  • Internet - Retirement Planning Calculator

If you are within one year of expected retirement:

Selecting a Retirement Date

  • The earliest possible retirement date is the day following an employee's separation of employment (last day on pay status).
  • Retirement may be effective any day of the week. If an employee separates employment on a Friday, retirement may be effective on Saturday.
  • Employees may request to use vacation (approval is based on operational needs of the University) and separate after exhausting all or part of their vacation credits.
  • Vacation remaining after employment separation is paid to the employee.
  • When retiring prior to attaining age 63, an employee's age determines the benefit factor used in their retirement formula. To maximize the retirement benefit, an employee may decide to retire on their birthday or after completing another quarter year of age to increase their benefit factor.
  • If an employee is planning to retire at the end of one calendar year or at the beginning of the next calendar year, they should consider the cost-of-living increase. The cost-of-living increase is applied to the retirement allowance on May 1 of the second calendar year following the retirement. Example: If the employee's retirement date is December 31, 2012, they will receive the first cost of living increase on the May 1, 2014 retirement check. However, if retirement is on January 1, 2013, the first increase will be on the May 1, 2015 retirement check.
  • If an academic year employee receives their paychecks spread out over twelve months and retires at the end of the academic year (mid June) instead of when their paychecks normally run out (September 1), they will start collecting the retirement pay approximately two and one-half months earlier and will receive the pay earned during the academic year as a settlement check sometime in June.
  • Employees should determine which date is more advantageous (mid-June versus September 1). For some, it is better to remain on the payroll through the summer months due to various factors (additional service credit, attaining a birthday quarter, continuance of employer-paid vision coverage and life insurance which does not continue into retirement, etc.); whereas some employees will benefit more from collecting the retirement pay during those summer months.

Retirement Application Process

Starting Your Application

  • Obtain a printed copy of the CalPERS brochure "Planning Your Service Retirement."
  • If you have reciprocity between CalPERS and another public retirement system, you need to make sure you retire concurrently from both systems--on the same day--so you can use the highest compensation for both systems. More information is available in the CalPERS booklet When You Change Retirement Systems.

Submit Your Service Retirement Election Application

  • Remember to sign and date your application in the presence of a notary public. You must also have your spouse or legal domestic partner sign and date. If you are not married or not registered as a domestic partner, just check the "No" box in this section.
  • Depending on the retirement option you choose, photocopies of your beneficiary's birth certificate and your marriage certificate or certificate of domestic partnership, if applicable, will be required. Please refer to the CalPERS brochure, "Planning Your Service Retirement" for details on required documentation.
  • If there is a community property claim from a prior marriage, you should contact the CalPERS Community Property Unit at (916) 795-3551 for information and instructions. It is important to resolve any community property issues regarding your CalPERS account prior to applying for retirement.
  • Mail your completed Service Retirement Election Application, and required documentation, to CalPERS or take it in person to one of the CalPERS Regional Field Offices.

What Happens Next

  • After you submit your Service Retirement Election Application, CalPERS will take the steps necessary for you to retire on the day you have selected. Once your application is received at their Sacramento Headquarters office, CalPERS will send you an acknowledgment letter to let you know they have begun processing your request. CalPERS will notify you if they have questions or need more information.
  • Before you receive your first retirement benefit check, usually after you have separated from employment, CalPERS will send you a letter providing you with the date of your first retirement check, the gross amount you can expect to receive, and important income tax information. Check the information carefully and contact CalPERS at (888) 225-7377 if any information is not correct.
  • When you will receive your first retirement check depends on your retirement date and when your final documents are received and processed by CalPERS. In most cases, you'll receive your first check in the first part of the month after you have retired.
  • Life Events - What You Need to Know

Working After Retirement

After you have retired, you may think about becoming self-employed, working in a private industry, or going back to work for your former CalPERS Employer. There are some basic rules you need to know about working after retirement so that you will not jeopardize your CalPERS Retirement Benefits. If you wish to work for any CalPERS employer, even through a third party employer as an "independent contractor," be sure that you are fully aware of the provisions applicable while working as a Retired Annuitant. Some of the general rules are as follows:

  • All employees who retire from CalPERS are prohibited from working more than 960 hours per fiscal year, or 50% of the hours you were employed in the fiscal year prior to retirement, whichever is less, for any other CalPERS agency.
  • A 180-day waiting period is required for all employees, regardless of age, who retire from CalPERS before a retiree can return to work without reinstating from retirement, except under certain circumstances which include the following:
    • The appointment is necessary to fill a critically needed position and has been approved by a governing body in a public meeting.
    • The retiree is eligible to participate in the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP)
    • The retiree began working as a Retired Annuitant prior to January 1, 2013.
  • All worked performed as a Retired Annuitant must be through a temporary appointment only.
  • The rate of pay in which a Retired Annuitant receives may not be less than the minimum, nor exceed the maximum that is paid to employees performing comparable duties.
  • California retirement law prohibits temporary employment of a retiree for a CalPERS employer if, during the 12-month period prior to reappointment, you received unemployment insurance compensation (based on prior employment with the same employer).
  • If you retired because of a disability, you must have approval from CalPERS before you begin employment.

Please note: Retired Annuitants are not eligible for sick, holiday, or vacation pay. (Exception for Retired Annuitants who are working under the FERP, which are eligible for sick pay).