As you plan for retirement, keep these things in mind:
Get an estimate of your retirement allowance by exploring alternative retirement dates and other factors using Web Member Services. Click on the Your Personal Account button on any page or visit our Get an Estimate page for more information.
Once you’re eligible to retire, you can select any date as your retirement date. However, since your retirement benefit allowance is calculated based on three factors—age, length of service, and final average salary—there are a few things to consider when selecting your effective retirement date.
When you’re ready to retire, you submit an ACERA Retirement Application. Once you’re retirement date passes, we send you a retirement contract in the mail. Once you fill out and return your retirement contract, you receive your 100% monthly retirement allowance for the rest of your life.
ACERA must have a COPY of these documents on file before you can retire, so please submit them on or before your retirement date. Failure to submit the needed documents may delay the processing of your retirement benefits. You can provide ACERA with many of these documents at any point during your career. Please also review the Forms to Complete For Retirement page.
ACERA must complete your final retirement calculation before you can choose a payment option. ACERA must verify your employment termination date, vacation sell backs and sick leave balance, and receive the final retirement contribution from your last paycheck. This can take up to six weeks after your last day in paid status. Approximately eight to ten weeks after your retirement date, your retirement benefit calculations will be finalized and you may choose a payment option.
During this eight to ten week period, ACERA will mail a packet containing an Election of Retirement Allowance to you. Upon receipt of the election form, you choose a payment option by signing and returning the form. ACERA will begin paying your retirement allowance based on the option amount you select.
You may be eligible to receive up to 80% of your estimated monthly benefit until your actual benefit is finalized so that you receive payment on a regular monthly basis. The difference between your interim partial payment and your actual benefit will be paid retroactively (without interest) once ACERA receives your signed election and processes the payment option you choose.
Once payments begin, you cannot change your payment option. Your selected payment option is irrevocable.
As of July 2007, ACERA requires the direct deposit of all monthly pension payments into your bank account unless you substantiate a valid hardship to ACERA demonstrating why direct deposit is not an option for you. Retirement allowance payments will be deposited on the last business day of each month. This policy ensures the receipt of your funds, especially in the case of a natural disaster, delivery delays, or theft.
When you are within 60 days of your chosen retirement date, you may complete and submit an ACERA retirement application. On your retirement application you will write your chosen retirement date as well as choose a beneficiary or beneficiaries for continuance death benefits. You can even submit an application the day before you retire.
Retirement allowances are paid on a monthly basis. ACERA mandates signing up for direct deposit, so that your monthly check will be deposited directly into your bank account. Direct deposit is easy, safe, and reliable, and can save you time and money. You will receive a monthly Electronic File Transfer (EFT) statement in the mail each month whenever you are paid through direct deposit. This process ensures the receipt of funds, especially in the case of a natural disaster, Post Office delivery delays, or theft.
A cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) is made annually in accordance with the changes in the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) for the San Francisco Bay Area. Adjustments are made annually on April 1. Allowances may be increased up to a maximum yearly limit of 3% for tier 1 and 3 members and 2% for tier 2 and 4 members.
See the COLA page in the Retirees section for current COLA information.