Retirement Fund Contributions

Overview

ACERA retirement benefits are funded by three sources: employee contributions, employer contributions, and investment earnings.

While you work, you make your employee contributions to the retirement fund on a pre-tax basis out of each paycheck, so you should see each contribution in the pre-tax deductions column on your pay stub. 

Contributions are not a part of the formula used to compute your benefit paid at retirement.

 

Employee Contribution Rates

Employee contribution rates are determined by an annual actuarial study of how much ACERA needs to fund the benefits we owe. Rates are set annually. Your employee contribution rate is expressed as a percentage of your gross base pay and other pensionable pay.

Average Employee Contribution Rates

Membership Type and Tier

2018/2019 Average Rate

2019/2020 Average Rate

Difference

General Tier 1

9.59%

9.54%

Down arrow-0.05%

General Tier 2A

7.76%

7.75%

Down arrow-0.01%

General Tier 3 (LARPD)

13.93%

13.99%

Up arrow0.06%

General Tier 4*

8.76%

8.80%

Up arrow0.04%

Safety Tier 1 (3%@50)

8.61%

8.55%

Down arrow-0.06%

Safety Tier 2B (3%@50)

15.83%

15.85%

Up arrow0.02%

Safety Tier 2C (2%@50)

13.35%

13.38%

Up arrow0.03%

Safety Tier 2D (3%@55)

16.12%

16.15%

Up arrow0.03%

Safety Tier 4*

15.75%

15.58%

Down arrow-0.17%

All Combined

9.34%

9.34%

0.00%

*Tier 4 rates are flat rates, not average rates, i.e., all Tier 4 members pay the same employee contribution rates.

 

Actual Employee Contribution Rates

These are the actual rates members are paying between September 2019 and September 2020.

Employee contribution rates for Tiers 1, 2, and 3 are assigned based on your age when you entered into ACERA membership your tier. All General Tier 4 members pay the same rate, and all Safety Tier 4 members pay the same rate. Find your tier here.

General Member Contribution Rates Tiers 1, 2, and 3

Entry Age

General Tier 1 Contribution Rate

General Tier 2 (A) Contribution Rate

General Tier 3 Contribution Rate

15

7.86%

5.41%

9.24%

16

7.86%

5.41%

9.24%

17

8.02%

5.51%

9.42%

18

8.18%

5.63%

9.60%

19

8.35%

5.74%

9.79%

20

8.50%

5.85%

9.98%

21

8.67%

5.96%

10.17%

22

8.84%

6.08%

10.37%

23

9.01%

6.20%

10.57%

24

9.19%

6.32%

10.77%

25

9.36%

6.45%

10.97%

26

9.54%

6.57%

11.18%

27

9.73%

6.69%

11.39%

28

9.91%

6.82%

11.61%

29

10.10%

6.95%

11.84%

30

10.30%

7.08%

12.06%

31

10.49%

7.22%

12.29%

32

10.69%

7.35%

12.51%

33

10.89%

7.49%

12.75%

34

11.10%

7.63%

12.99%

35

11.31%

7.78%

13.24%

36

11.52%

7.93%

13.49%

37

11.74%

8.08%

13.74%

38

11.96%

8.23%

14.01%

39

12.18%

8.38%

14.27%

40

12.42%

8.54%

14.55%

41

12.65%

8.70%

14.85%

42

12.89%

8.86%

15.14%

43

13.14%

9.04%

15.45%

44

13.40%

9.21%

15.76%

45

13.65%

9.38%

16.04%

46

13.92%

9.57%

16.32%

47

14.20%

9.76%

16.58%

48

14.49%

9.94%

16.81%

49

14.77%

10.12%

17.03%

50

15.03%

10.29%

17.21%

51

15.31%

10.44%

17.35%

52

15.56%

10.58%

17.26%

53

15.77%

10.70%

16.96%

54

15.97%

10.80%

54 & Over

16.25%

55

16.15%

10.84%

 

56

16.28%

10.79%

 

57

16.19%

10.68%

 

58

15.91%

11.04%

 

59 & Over

15.24%

11.42%

 

General Member Contribution Rate Tier 4

8.80%

Safety Member Contribution Rates Tiers 1, 2B, and 2C

Entry Age

Safety Tier 1 Contribution Rate

Safety Tier 2B Contribution Rate

Safety Tier 2C Contribution Rate

15

15.92%

13.47%

10.01%

16

15.92%

13.47%

10.01%

17

16.13%

13.64%

10.17%

18

16.35%

13.82%

10.35%

19

16.57%

14.00%

10.51%

20

16.80%

14.18%

10.69%

21

17.03%

14.36%

10.86%

22

17.26%

14.56%

11.05%

23

17.50%

14.74%

11.23%

24

17.74%

14.94%

11.41%

25

17.99%

15.14%

11.60%

26

18.24%

15.35%

11.80%

27

18.50%

15.55%

11.99%

28

18.76%

15.76%

12.20%

29

19.01%

15.97%

12.40%

30

19.29%

16.20%

12.61%

31

19.57%

16.42%

12.83%

32

19.85%

16.65%

13.04%

33

20.14%

16.88%

13.26%

34

20.44%

17.13%

13.50%

35

20.75%

17.37%

13.73%

36

21.07%

17.63%

13.99%

37

21.40%

17.90%

14.24%

38

21.75%

18.17%

14.50%

39

22.13%

18.46%

14.77%

40

22.51%

18.75%

15.06%

41

22.90%

19.03%

15.33%

42

23.33%

19.29%

15.57%

43

23.71%

19.46%

15.73%

44

24.01%

19.52%

15.78%

45

24.14%

19.41%

15.69%

46

24.16%

19.13%

15.42%

47

23.75%

18.72%

15.03%

48

23.10%

19.26%

15.54%

49 & Over

21.98%

 

19.81%

16.07%

 

Safety Member Contribution Rates Tier 2D: Before and After Vesting

Vesting for Tier 2D includes any ACERA service credit earned as a general member and any reciprocal service credit earned in other linked retirement systems.

Entry Age

Non-Vested Safety Tier 2D Contribution Rate

Vested Safety Tier 2D Contribution Rate

15

15.33%

13.33%

16

15.33%

13.33%

17

15.50%

13.50%

18

15.68%

13.68%

19

15.85%

13.85%

20

16.03%

14.03%

21

16.21%

14.21%

22

16.40%

14.40%

23

16.59%

14.59%

24

16.78%

14.78%

25

16.97%

14.97%

26

17.18%

15.18%

27

17.38%

15.38%

28

17.59%

15.59%

29

17.80%

15.80%

30

18.02%

16.02%

31

18.24%

16.24%

32

18.46%

16.46%

33

18.69%

16.69%

34

18.93%

16.93%

35

19.17%

17.17%

36

19.44%

17.44%

37

19.70%

17.70%

38

19.97%

17.97%

39

20.25%

18.25%

40

20.54%

18.54%

41

20.82%

18.82%

42

21.07%

19.07%

43

21.23%

19.23%

44

21.29%

19.29%

45

21.19%

19.19%

46

20.91%

18.91%

47

20.51%

18.51%

48

21.04%

19.04%

49 & Over

21.58%

19.58%

Safety Member Contribution Rate Tier 4

15.58%

Note: Effective Rates Might Differ Slightly

The effective rates may be slightly different because you pay a lower rate on the first $161 of your paycheck, but the above rates are very close to what you actually pay.

 

Your Contribution Account

Your contributions are credited to your ACERA contribution account. Interest on funds that have been in your account for at least six months is credited to your account on June 30 and December 31 of each year, as ACERA earns investment income.

How do I see a balance of the employee contributions I’ve paid into the retirement fund?

Log in to Your Account to see your balance of contributions and interest.

How much interest does ACERA post to my contribution account?

ACERA posts interest to member contribution accounts as of June 30 and December 31 at the end of each 6 month period when ACERA’s fund earns interest (though please note there’s always an administrative delay in actually posting the interest). Interest rates vary depending on how much interest the fund earns. ACERA’s historical interest rates are posted below.

Note when reading the chart: Interest is calculated every 6 months as of the effective dates listed, so the second column shows the rates actually posted to member accounts. The third column showing a combined rate for each year (with compounding within the year) is only there for your reference to compare with annual rates of other financial instruments, and does not represent the applied rates.

Interest Rates Posted to Member Accounts

Interest Rate Effective Date

6-Month Interest Rate Posted to Member Accounts

FOR REFERENCE ONLY
Both 6-Month Rates Combined (Compounded)

12/31/2019

3.5754%

6.3175%

6/30/2019

2.6474

 

12/31/2018

3.3861

7.4748

6/30/2018

3.9548

 

12/31/2017

3.8000

7.7444

6/30/2017

3.8000

 

12/31/2016

3.6527

7.2047

6/30/2016

3.4268

 

12/31/2015

3.8000

8.6477

6/30/2015

4.6702

 

12/31/2014

4.5885

10.5708

6/30/2014

5.7198

 

12/31/2013

5.4084

8.4691

6/30/2013

2.9037

 

12/31/2012

1.1710

1.5869

6/30/2012

0.4111

 

12/31/2011

0.9643

3.1177

6/30/2011

2.1328

 

12/31/2010

0.7580

0.7580

6/30/2010

0.0000

 

12/31/2009

1.9313

2.6858

6/30/2009

0.7402

 

12/31/2008

0.0000

4.0000

6/30/2008

4.0000

 

12/31/2007

5.3406

10.9926

6/30/2007

5.3655

 

12/31/2006

4.8737

9.1948

6/30/2006

4.1203

 

12/31/2005

3.7596

6.9483

6/30/2005

3.0732

 

12/31/2004

2.8818

5.7560

6/30/2004

2.7937

 

12/31/2003

0.5911

0.5911

6/30/2003

0.0000

 

12/31/2002

0.0000

4.1250

6/30/2002

4.1250

 

12/31/2001

4.1250

8.8799

6/30/2001

4.5665

 

12/31/2000

5.4220

11.6840

6/30/2000

5.9399

 

12/31/1999

6.4497

13.1088

6/30/1999

6.2556

 

12/31/1998

14.3692

20.8331

6/30/1998

5.6518

 

12/31/1997

4.9679

10.3446

6/30/1997

5.1222

 

12/31/1996

4.9329

9.8683

6/30/1996

4.7034

 

12/31/1995

4.9057

9.1019

6/30/1995

4.0000

 

12/31/1994

3.8850

8.1703

6/30/1994

4.1250

 

12/31/1993

4.3824

10.6064

6/30/1993

5.9627

 

Average Rate

3.7803%

7.7327%

FOR REFERENCE ONLY

 

Here’s the table above in an Excel file:

Interest Rate History - Excel

Can I borrow against my contributions or withdraw part or all of my contributions?

No. State and federal laws prevent you from borrowing any part of your retirement contributions. They also prevent you from using your retirement contributions as collateral to borrow money from a bank or other lender.

You cannot withdraw your retirement contributions unless you terminate your employment and have been separated from your employment for 30 days. (Expect 30 to 60 days for the funds to be disbursed.) Terminating employment and immediately being rehired for the purpose of withdrawing contributions is a violation of federal law. There are no provisions for an emergency withdrawal of funds from an employee’s account.

 

Retirement Contributions FAQ

How am I paying into the ACERA fund?

If you’re an actively working employee, you contribute to the retirement fund with each paycheck. You can verify this by looking at the deductions column on your pay stub, and you should see a deduction for the retirement fund.

Is my employer paying into the ACERA fund?

Yes. Your employer is required by state law to pay into ACERA. Your employer sends its contributions directly to ACERA. All of ACERA’s six participating employers are contributing 100% of their annual required contributions this year, and they’ve contributed 100% of their required contributions each prior year. ACERA’s annual financial report always contains a statement to this effect.

How are contribution rates determined?

ACERA utilizes an actuary to calculate our contribution rates. An actuary compiles and analyzes past data and statistics to calculate projections of the future—in this case, ACERA’s actuary is projecting the amount of contributions ACERA needs to collect in order to pay out all the benefits we owe to current retirees, future retirees, and other qualified recipients like beneficiaries of deceased retirees. The actuary also takes into account gains ACERA expects to make from earnings on our investments.

How often are contribution rates adjusted?

Annually. ACERA’s actuary recalculates the contribution rates each year, and each spring (usually in May) provides ACERA an actuarial valuation report with the contribution rates. Each year’s calculations are based on the experiences and data from the previous calendar year. After the Board of Retirement approves them, the new rates take effect each September, and remain unchanged until the next September.

How much did employee contribution rates change for the Sep. 2019 – Sep. 2020 period we’re in vs. the previous period?

Some rates increased and some decreased, though the average combined rate remained the same at 9.34%. See the Average Employee Contribution Rate table above. You can also compare this years actual rates from the table above to the Previous Year's Contribution Rates.

Do my contributions have an effect on how much money I will receive in retirement?

No. Your contributions are not a part of the formula used to compute your benefit paid to you at retirement. The amount of your monthly retirement allowance is based on your age at retirement, how many years of service credit you’ve earned, and your highest average salary.

How much did my employer’s contribution rates change for the 2019-2020 period we’re in vs. the previous period?

Your employer’s contribution rate is calculated as a percent of total employee payroll. The combined employer contribution rate for all tiers increased from 27.82% to 27.96% of payroll. See our Employer Contributions Rates page for the current rates. 

Why do the employers pay more than the employees?

The primary reason is because ACERA currently has an “unfunded liability,” which means that we currently don’t have 100% of the money we’ll need to pay our pension obligations. We currently have 77.2% of the money we’ll need, a number which is known as our “funded ratio.” The employers must pay extra over a fixed period of time, known as an “amortization period,” in order for ACERA to get back up to 100% funding. ACERA’s actuary includes this extra payment in the employer contribution rates, making them higher.

The biggest reason that ACERA and almost all pension funds across the country aren’t currently 100% funded is due to the worldwide financial crisis of 2008.

What are some of the reasons that contribution rates change from year to year?

Employee contribution rates are affected by:

  • Changes in the normal costs of funding the plan – The cost to fund the plan, if all actuarial assumptions are met, is called the “normal cost”. Some things can affect the normal cost of the plan, such as benefits being added to the plan.
  • Assumed investment return rates – Periodically, ACERA’s Board of Retirement conducts a study of our investment experience, and adjusts the rate of expected long-term investment earnings based on findings from the study. If we expect to earn less, we’ll have to collect more contributions, and vice versa.
  • Cost-of-living benefits – The amount of cost of living benefits ACERA pays out to retirees each year varies based on inflation. Our actuary takes this variation into account when calculating the contribution rates.
  • Changes in member life expectancy – The actuary uses data to project the average life expectancies of ACERA’s members, which allows ACERA to project the total amount of retirement benefits we’ll pay out. If members’ average life expectancy goes up or down, ACERA would expect to pay more or less (respectively), which can change the amount of contributions we need to collect in order to pay our pension benefit obligations.

Employer contribution rates are affected by:

  • All of the above reasons, plus investment gains or losses – If ACERA’s fund doesn’t earn as much as the actuary expected, ACERA’s participating employers have to make up the difference, by law. If ACERA’s fund earns more than the actuary expected, the employers may not need to pay as much. These gains and losses are actuarially “smoothed”—i.e., spread out—over 5 years in order to minimize the effect of market volatility on the rates the employers’ contribute to the fund from year to year. This helps the employers plan their budgets more effectively.

I heard that I can stop paying contributions after 30 years of service credit; is this true?

Usually not. It’s only true for the following members:

  • All safety members with an entry date prior to January 1, 2013
  • General members who entered or re-entered ACERA membership on or before March 7, 1973, who have made continuous contributions to ACERA and/or a reciprocal agency*
  • General members who entered ACERA membership after March 7, 1973, who meet the following criteria:*
    • Previous ACERA membership on or before March 7, 1973, and
    • Termination and withdrawal of contributions and interest, and redeposit of all eligible contributions and interest upon re-entry.

* General members with ACERA entry dates on or after December 20, 2000 are not eligible for 30 year membership using reciprocal service. They must have a prior entry date with ACERA that is on or before March 7, 1973 that is deferred or is redeposited.

Where can I get more information?

If you have additional questions regarding contribution rates, please contact ACERA at www.acera.org/contact-us or by phone at 510-628-3000.

 

Employer Contributions

See our Employer Contributions Rates page for the current rates. Employer contribution rates are also set annually and can vary from year-to-year. 

You do not benefit from employer contributions until retirement—these contributions are used, along with employee contributions, to fund your retirement benefits.

Employer contributions are never refundable—if you terminate employment and elect to receive a refund of your employee retirement contributions, you will not receive employer contributions made on your behalf.