Additional Important Information

Overview

Service Retirement Allowance Pending Determination of your Application

If eligible, you may apply for a regular service retirement allowance pending the determination of your Application for disability retirement.; You must be at least age 50 with ten (10) years of credited service to be eligible for a service retirement. If you are a Safety Member with 20 years of credited service, you may apply for service retirement before you reach age 50. Adjustments will be made to your allowance retirement retroactive to your Effective Date, if applicable, if you are found eligible for disability retirement.

If you are granted regular service retirement and found not entitled to disability retirement, you will not be eligible to return to your job because your employment terminates upon accepting a regular service retirement.

Neither you nor your beneficiaries may receive more than one type of retirement allowance for the same period of time.

Disability Retirement after Death

Your Beneficiary may continue your pending disability retirement Application process if you die before the Board makes a final determination on your Completed Application and/or before your Election of Disability Retirement Allowance is executed.

The Beneficiary you designate in your ACERA Service File may elect to continue the pending Application process on your behalf. This Beneficiary must be your surviving spouse/state-registered domestic partner or minor child through the age of 21, if such children remain unmarried and are regularly enrolled as full-time students in an accredited school. The Beneficiary must also complete and execute a Continuation of Disability Retirement Proceedings After Death of Member Form.

Upon a showing of good cause, the D.U. may accept such a designation after ninety (90) days, however, in all cases where no form is received, the Application will be deemed withdrawn with prejudice six (6) months after the date of your death.

Supplemental Disability Allowance

The Board may pay a Supplemental Disability Allowance in lieu of the full disability allowance if you are granted a disability retirement and accept alternate County or Participating Employer work with lower pay.  Under such circumstances, the amount of the Supplemental Disability Allowance is equal to the difference between your salary in the former position and your salary in the new position, not to exceed the amount of your approved disability benefit.

COLA adjustments are applied to your Disability Allowance when you retire.

Reciprocal Disability Benefits Processing

CERL ‘37 encourages career public service by granting reciprocal retirement benefits to eligible members. If you have worked for another California public retirement system and met necessary requirements, your membership is reciprocal. Accordingly, there is reciprocity in disability retirement benefits among Reciprocal Systems, e.g., the CERL

‘37 Act Counties, the Public Employees’ Retirement Systems (“PERS”), the State Teachers’ Retirement System, the Judges’ Retirement System, and the retirement systems of any other public agency within the State of California that has established reciprocity with PERS by meeting all necessary statutory requirements.

Generally, each Reciprocal System calculates its respective obligations based upon your service with that entity and each adjusts its payment on a pro rata basis. No retirement system or political entity is liable for more than its just financial obligation. Your combined reciprocal benefit will not be higher than it would have been were all service credit earned in one system.

Safety Member Presumption

A legal presumption is a conclusion based upon a particular set of facts.  Certain diseases/disabilities are presumed to arise out of and in the course of a Safety Member’s employment, specifically

  1. Heart trouble
  2. Cancer
  3. Blood borne disease, and
  4. Exposure to biochemical substances

IMPORTANT:

The Application and use of legal presumptions involve complex legal and technical issues and detailed analysis that are beyond the scope of this website or the Handbook. ACERA recommends that you seek the advice of an attorney. You must act promptly to avoid waiving valuable rights, if this applies to you.

Taxability

Disability retirement benefits are subject to rules and regulations by the US Treasury. While some disability retirement benefits are considered taxable income, some are not.

  1. Disability retirement allowance payments for a Non-Service Connected Disability retirement are considered taxable income.
  2. Disability retirement allowance payments for a Service Connected Disability retirement that are equal to 50% or less of your final average salary are not considered taxable income. 
  3. If you, as a disabled Member, receive a service retirement allowance higher than 50% of your final average salary, but are eligible for an SCD retirement, the difference between the service retirement allowance and the 50% of final average salary is taxable. The remainder of the benefit (i.e., the 50% of final average salary) is not taxable. SCD benefits are excluded from taxable income, but service retirement benefits are not.
  4. Service Connected Disability When a Service Connected Disability retirement is granted based on a statutory presumption that it is work-related, your disability retirement allowance is taxable and reported as such by ACERA.

IMPORTANT: State and federal tax laws are subject to change without notice. It is not the purpose of this Handbook to provide legal or tax advice.