The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) manages pensions for California public school educators and other public employees. Depending upon your position, and work history you may be eligible or are already a member of CalPERS.
CalPERS is a defined benefit plan funded by employee contributions, employer contributions, and earnings made on CalPERS investments. Pasadena City College contributes 22.91% (subject to change every year) of employee’s salary. The employee contribution for Classic members is 7% and 8% for PEPRA members. Employee contributions are pre-taxed, which means CalPERS contributions are reduced from gross pay before Federal and State taxes are calculated. Plan vesting is at five years of PERS credited service.
As a member, you may choose to withdraw your contributions and interest if you no longer work for a CalPERS-covered employer, or you may apply for a lifetime monthly retirement allowance once you become eligible. Eligibility requirements to collect your CalPERS pension differ from the Social Security Administration’s requirements. It’s important you understand CalPERS and the Social Security Administration are independent of each other. You do not need to be Social Security age to collect your CalPERS pension. If you’re eligible to receive Social Security benefits and worked for an employer that did not withhold Social Security taxes, the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset can reduce your Social Security benefits. Before you stop working and collect your CalPERS pension, call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or visit their website at www.ssa.gov for more information about these Social Security benefit reductions.
Your retirement benefit is based on a retirement formula using your total service credit, your age at retirement, and your highest average annual compensation during any consecutive 12- or 36-month period throughout your CalPERS career. You may have more than one retirement formula based on your membership date, your membership category, and your employer’s contract with CalPERS.
All Classified full-time employees hired in a 75% - 100% assignment.
All Classified part-time employees working more than 1,000 hours in one Fiscal year.
If your membership date with CalPERS is on or before December 31, 2012, you are considered a classic member with a classic retirement formula.
You are a Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) member with a PEPRA formula if:
- You were brought into CalPERS membership for the first time on or after January 1, 2013, and you had no prior membership with any other California public retirement system.
- You were brought into CalPERS membership for the first time on or after January 1, 2013, and you were not eligible for reciprocity with another California public retirement system.
- You became a member on or before December 31, 2012, left CalPERS employment for six months or more, and then returned to membership on or after January 1, 2013, with a CalPERS employer you did not previously work for.
2.0% @ 55*
Minimum retirement age 50.
2.0% @ 62*
Minimum retirement age 52.
Prior to 1/1/2013
*Benefit factor is the percentage of pay to which you are entitled for each year of service. It is determined by your age at retirement and the retirement formula based on your membership date with each employer.
CalPERS has many resources available to help you in your retirement planning:
- CalPERS website at www.calpers.ca.gov
- Your personal myCalPERS account
- Online and instructor-led retirement classes
- Webinars and YouTube videos
- Access Your CalPERS Info Anytime, Anywhere with myCalPERS video to sign up for online classes
- Your CalPERS and You
- Planning Your Retirement
- Your Retirement Application and Beyond
- Member publications
- One-on-one retirement counseling
You can access your personal account information by logging in to your myCalPERS account. If you have not created your myCalPERS account, you must go to my.calpers.ca.gov and follow the easy steps to complete the registration process.
From your myCalPERS account, you can do the following:
- View and print your Annual Member Statements
- Create and save retirement estimates
- Change your beneficiary designation
- Take online CalPERS retirement classes
- Sign up for instructor-led retirement classes
- Register for retirement counseling appointments and CalPERS Benefits Education Events
- Apply for service retirement
As you plan for your retirement and get ready to submit your retirement application, use the following checklist as a reminder of what you need to consider.
Retirement Planning Checklist
- Create my personal myCalPERS account.
- Request CalPERS-generated estimates 12 months prior to retirement.
- Review my recent Annual Member Statement for accuracy.
- Do I have an unresolved community property claim?
- I have resolved my community property claim.
- Do I qualify for reciprocity with another retirement system?
- I have established reciprocity.
- Watch retirement education webinars and CalPERS YouTube videos.
- Attend retirement classes.
- Attending a class is recommended if you would like a half-hour or one-hour retirement counseling appointment.
- Read my member publication(s).
Submit Your Retirement Application
You can apply for retirement up to 120 days before your retirement date. We recommend you submit your application early to ensure timely payment.
You can apply online, by mail, or in person:
- Log in to your personal myCalPERS account and apply online at my.calpers.ca.gov.
- Send in your completed and notarized retirement application along with any other applicable forms. Refer to A Guide to Completing Your CalPERS Service Retirement Election Application (PUB 43) for the application form and instructions.
- Visit your nearest Regional Office. One of our representatives can review your online or paper application and witness your and your spouse’s or domestic partner’s signatures in lieu of a notary.
Be sure to keep a copy of all forms and supporting documents for your records and future reference.
You must submit your application within nine months of your permanent separation date to receive the retirement date of your choice. If your application is received more than nine months after your permanent separation date, the law states that your retirement date cannot be earlier than the first of the month we receive your application.
If you are also a member of another public retirement system in California, you must apply for retirement with each system separately. Contact the other public retirement system to determine their requirements and time frames to apply for retirement. If you last worked for the other retirement system and you submit your CalPERS retirement application more than nine months from separation of employment with the other system, the law states that your retirement date cannot be earlier than the first of the month we receive your application. For full reciprocal benefits to apply, your retirement date must be the same with both systems. Review the publication A Guide to CalPERS When You Change Retirement Systems (PUB 16) for more information
Important! Separation from employment alone is not considered retirement — you must submit a retirement election application to complete the retirement process. You must stop working in all CalPERS-covered employment before your retirement date, including all full-time and part-time positions and any elected or appointed offices for which you have CalPERS membership. It’s your responsibility to inform every CalPERS employer of your planned retirement date so each employer can submit permanent separation information on your behalf. If your employer does not submit separation information to us and you continue working, you may be considered unlawfully employed. This unlawful employment can result in termination of your retirement allowance and require you to repay overpaid retirement benefits.
There are three dates that may have a financial impact on your CalPERS retirement: the fiscal year, your birthday quarter, or the first year of your cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). You’ll want to pick the one that best suits your needs.
Fiscal Year Affects Service Credit
If you start working in July, it’s possible to earn one year of service credit by the end of April (10 months), as service credit is earned in tenths, not twelfths. A fiscal year is defined as July 1 through June 30.
To earn a full year of service credit during a fiscal year, you must work at least:
- 1,720 hours (hourly pay employees)
- 215 days (daily pay employees)
- 10 months full time (monthly pay employees)
Service credit for retirement purposes may differ from the service credit used by your employer for accrual of leave time. For details, log in to myCalPERS and refer to your Annual Member Statement.
Birthday Quarters: An Increase Every 3 Months
Your benefit factor increases with each quarter year of age, or every three months, based on your birthday. For example, based on a State Miscellaneous & Industrial member’s 2% at 55 formula, you are eligible to retire at age 50 with a multiplier of 1.1%. That multiplier increases every three months after your birthdate; at age 63 it reaches the maximum of 2.5%. If you are under 63, a birthday quarter may help to increase your benefit payment.
The benefit factor is the retirement formula based on your membership date with each employer. View the benefit factor chart for your formula to see how the multiplier increases with each quarter year of age.
COLA: December 31 vs. January 1
The exact percent is based on the annual calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Urban Consumers and begins in the second calendar year of your retirement, up to a set limit based on your contract.
For example, if you retire on December 31, 2021, your COLA would be based on the CPI for 2022, and you would receive your first COLA May 1, 2023. If you retire instead on January 1, 2022, that single day’s difference can delay the first eligibility by up to one year and you would not receive your first COLA until May 1, 2024. Retirees receive an annual COLA in the May 1 warrant of each year.
If you retire and then want to return to work for a CalPERS-covered employer, you may do one of the following:
- Work as a retired annuitant*, or
- Come out of retirement and return to active service.
There are rules and restrictions related to both options. Before accepting any position, read the publications A Guide to CalPERS Employment After Retirement (PUB 33) and/or A Guide to CalPERS Reinstatement From Retirement (PUB 37) regarding the requirements and limitations.
*Retired annuitants are retirees who work for a CalPERS-covered employer as a temporary employee. Retired annuitants receive a paycheck from the employer and continue to receive a retirement allowance from CalPERS.
Submit your form in-person at one of our regional offices or by mail to:
CalPERS Benefit Services Division
P.O. Box 942716
Sacramento, CA 94229-2716
- 2,000 hours of sick leave equals one year of service credit.
- 10 months of full-time employment amounts to one year of service credit earned.
- Three factors that impact your pension
- Service Credit- Total time spent on the job with CalPERS- covered employers
- Benefit Factor-The percentage of pay you’re entitled to for each year of service credit earned
- Final Compensation- An average of your highest monthly pay rate
- Vacation and other leave types (with the exception of unused accrued sick leave) can’t be converted to service credit.
- Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) after retirement begin the second calendar year of retirement.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Defined Benefit Program is a traditional defined benefit plan that provides retirement, survivor and disability benefits. Your Defined Benefit retirement benefit is based on a formula set by law using your age, service credit and final compensation.
Mandatory Defined Benefit Program membership begins
Excluded from mandatory membership, but may permissively (voluntarily) elect membership.
Not temporary or adjunct, Full-Time Instructor
First day of employment, unless employed on a temporary basis.
The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 made changes to the plan structure that primarily affect benefits for members first hired to perform CalSTRS creditable service on or after January 1, 2013. These members are under the CalSTRS 2% at 62 benefit structure. The employee contribution for these members is 10.205%.
Members under the CalSTRS 2% at 60 benefit structure are those who:
- Were first hired to perform service that could be credited to the Defined Benefit Program on or before December 31, 2012.
- Were CalSTRS members before 2013, terminated their membership and then returned to active membership on or after January 1, 2013.
- Performed service that could be credited to the Defined Benefit Program and were subject to coverage under a different retirement system, including Social Security, on or before December 31, 2012.
- Employee contribution is 10.25%
- Were members of a concurrent retirement system on or before December 31, 2012, and who performed service under that system within six months of becoming a CalSTRS member.
Access your account information and balances, service credit total, forms and more. Start at myCalSTRS.com.
Benefits Planning Sessions
CalSTRS benefits specialists can help with the decisions you’ll need to make when you retire. Learn with fellow educators in an interactive online webinar. Contact CalSTRS or visit myCalSTRS to schedule a session.
Hybrid benefits specialists
In addition to information about the Defined Benefit, Defined Benefit Supplement and Cash Balance Benefit programs, contact CalSTRS hybrid benefits specialists about CalSTRS Pension2 403(b) and 457(b) plans for supplemental retirement savings.
Hours and services vary at our member service centers and satellite offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CalSTRS staff may be working remotely.
Workshops and Webinars
Explore benefits and services with the help of a CalSTRS benefits specialist.
My retirement series—Understand your benefits and retirement decisions.
Financial awareness series—Learn to save for, plan for
and protect your future with a series of workshops on financial topics.
Publications and Fact Sheets
Read about CalSTRS benefits and services in our online publications.
Find the forms you need to designate a one-time death benefit recipient, apply for a service retirement, update your address and more.
Watch these short videos to learn more about your benefits.
Defined Benefit Supplement Program
Introduction to Social Security
Purchasing Service Credit
Refund: Consider the Consequences
Retirement Benefits Calculator
Understanding the Formula
Welcome to CalSTRS
Working After Retirement
Your CalSTRS Retirement Progress Report
Use these calculators to help you estimate your retirement benefit, the cost of purchasing service credit, plus more.
Permissive Service Credit Calculator
Retirement Benefits Calculator
Your Savings Calculator
Pension Sense Blog
Subscribe to our blog and receive the latest information on member benefits, the CalSTRS Investment Portfolio, corporate engagement activities and more.
Your Retirement Progress Report is one of your most important CalSTRS records. Keep tabs on your CalSTRS account and service credit balances by reviewing your Retirement Progress Report each year. Your new report is available online on myCalSTRS in mid-September.
Your report states:
- Your service credit.
- Your benefit structure: Whether you're a CalSTRS 2% at 60 member or a CalSTRS 2% at 62 member.
- The name of your one-time death benefit recipient and preretirement option beneficiary, if you elected one.
- The accumulated contributions and interest in your accounts.
- Any excess member contributions for the year.
- Your disability and survivor benefits under Coverage A or Coverage B.
- Two estimates of your CalSTRS monthly retirement benefit and your Defined Benefit Supplement account distribution once you're age 45. These are estimates only and are not binding.
myCalSTRS offers easy, secure and convenient access to your accounts and CalSTRSforms, anytime, anywhere. Register at myCalSTRS.com.
With myCalSTRS, you can:
- Update your contact information.
- Access your annual Retirement Progress Report and view information reported by your employer.
- View your account balances.
- Name and update your one-time death benefit recipient.
- Ask questions and receive prompt, secure answers.
- Complete and submit forms.
- Link to your CalSTRS Pension 2 403(b) or 457 (b) account, if you have one.
Need help registering?
View the self-paced, interactive online registration guide at myCalSTRS.com. You’ll find help at CalSTRS.com/myCalSTRS-help-videos.
- Read Your Retirement Guide and the retirement planning sections of this handbook.
- Go online to myCalSTRS.com to activate your myCalSTRS account, if you haven’t already.
- Estimate your monthly benefit using the online calculator at CalSTRS.com/calculators
- Sign up for a CalSTRS and Your Retirement benefits planning session. Go to CalSTRS.com/benefitsplanning to learn more.
- Consider purchasing permissive service credit or redepositing service credit to increase your benefit if you did not do so earlier in your career. See the booklet, Purchase Additional Service Credit, at CalSTRS.com/publications. You must complete your service credit purchase before your retirement date.
- Consider making a preretirement election of an option to provide a lifetime monthly benefit to one or more persons if you should die before retirement. Find the Preretirement Election of an Option form on myCalSTRS and at CalSTRS.com/forms.
- Consider rolling over your Defined Benefit Supplement funds to CalSTRS Pension2.
- Check to see if pending or new legislation may affect your benefits or influence the timing of your retirement. Sources include your legislative representative, your union representative and CalSTRS.com/legislation.
- Gather clear, unaltered photocopies of the necessary documents.
If you're electing an option beneficiary:
- Birth certificate or other acceptable verification of birthdate, such as a birth record, state-issued ID, passport photo ID page or certain military IDs, for each option beneficiary.
- A copy of a marriage certificate or declaration of domestic partnership from the Secretary of State if you’re naming a spouse or registered domestic partner.
- Marriage certificate or other proof of a name change, if your option beneficiary’s name is different from the name on the birth certificate.
If you elected an option beneficiary before retirement, you may need to submit the items above.
If a portion of your CalSTRS benefit was awarded to another party:
- A complete court-filed copy of your community property settlement documents. For more information, see the Community Property Guide at CalSTRS.com/publications.
- Notify Pasadena City College Human Resources Office that you intend to retire and
ask about forms your employer may require for you to resign from your position. Also
let your employer know if you plan to set up a health insurance deduction from your
- Give the Express Benefit Report form to the Payroll department after you complete section 1 to confirm your last day of employment and any unused sick leave.
- Submit your Service Retirement Application using myCalSTRS or go to CalSTRS.com/forms to print the application, complete it and mail it to CalSTRS. You must submit the application to us to receive a retirement benefit.
Complete and submit your Service Retirement Application and other forms online using myCalSTRS. Get prepared by reading the Your Retirement Guide booklet.
Complete and submit your forms online
You must submit your Service Retirement Application to CalSTRS before you’ll receive a CalSTRS retirement benefit. Complete and submit your Service Retirement Application online using myCalSTRS. It’s easy, fast and secure.
When you complete your application using myCalSTRS:
- You'll receive step-by-step guidance to complete your application correctly.
- Your member-specific information is auto-filled, saving you time.
- Your application is processed automatically, for a faster turnaround.
- You’ll receive immediate email confirmation when CalSTRS receives your application and after it has been processed.
- You'll receive your award letter sooner.
- You’ll receive prompt emails if we need additional information to process your application.
Before you can officially retire with CalSTRS, you must complete the Service Retirement Application and choose your retirement date. You will be officially retired as of the retirement date you put on your application. The earliest date you can retire is the day after your last day of work, vacation or compensated approved leave, whichever is later. In addition to your retirement date, you must also indicate your last day of work, vacation or compensated approved leave on your application. This date must be before your retirement date, and your employer will verify this date on the Express Benefit Report. Your first benefit payment will be calculated from your retirement date through the end of the month in which you retire. If your retirement date is not the first day of the month, your first benefit payment will be prorated for that month.
If you retire in the middle of the school year, your final compensation may be lower than expected if you received a salary increase toward the end of your career. This is because, for a midyear retirement, CalSTRS may have to include the monthly average of your prior year’s compensation earnable as part of your final compensation calculation. The calculation will have more of an effect if you’re under the CalSTRS 2% at 60 benefit structure and have at least 25 years of service because your final compensation will be based on a 12-month period.
For example, if you have 25 years of service credit, earned $57,000 last year and would have earned $60,000 this year, your final compensation calculation for a January 1 retirement date would be:
|$57,000 ÷ 12 months = $4,750 x 6 months =||$28,500|
|$60,000 ÷ 12 months = $5,000 x 6 months =||+$30,000|
$58,500 ÷ 12 months = $ 4,875
Your final compensation would be $4,875—lower than the $5,000 final compensation you would have earned by finishing out the school year.
Working after retirement restrictions
If you return to work after service retirement and perform retired member activities in the California public school system—including substitute teaching—as an employee of a public school system, an independent contractor or an employee of a third party, there are restrictions under California state and federal law that apply to you. You cannot:
- Work in a classified position except, under certain circumstances, as a teacher’s aide.
- Earn any pay without affecting your retirement benefit if you return to work before the 180-calendar day separation-from-service requirement.
- Earn more than the annual postretirement earnings limit without affecting your CalSTRS retirement benefit.
In addition, you cannot keep the additional service credit you received under the CalSTRS.
Retirement Incentive Program if you take any job as an employee, independent contractor or as an employee of a third party within five years of retirement with the employer that offered the incentive.
For more information about working after retirement please read pages 85-88 of the CalSTRS Member Handbook Link https://www.calstrs.com/sites/main/files/file-attachments/memberhandbook2021.pdf?1624927728
- At service retirement, CalSTRS will process and convert your unused sick leave to additional service credit using the information your employer provides. If you change employers during your career, coordinate with your former employer to arrange for the transfer of your accumulated unused sick leave to your new employer.
- CalSTRS members do not participate in Social Security, but CalPERS members do. Contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to determine how an employment change would affect your Social Security benefits.
- Members of CalPERS who are employed full time and accept part-time, temporary employment to perform creditable service covered by the CalSTRS Defined Benefit Program can permissively elect membership in CalSTRS and have their part-time service reported to CalSTRS.
California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) vs California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
Classified = non certificated
Certificated = teachers, administrators
Most Contribute to Social Security
Most do not contribute to Social Security
Formulas = 2.0% @ 55, 2.0% @ 62
2.0% @ 60, 2.0% @ 62
Employer & Employee Contribution rates vary.
PEPRA members 8%
Classic members 7%
Employer & Employee Contribution rates vary.
10.205% for 2% @ 62 members
10.25% for 2% @ 60 members