ACERA COVID-19 Coronavirus Update

News

New Limited Phone Hours

March 30, 2020

Due to limited staff resources during the public health order, ACERA is taking calls during the limited hours of 8:30 am – 5 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Outside of those hours, you may leave a voicemail or email us. We will do our best to respond within one business day.

Phone Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30am – 5:00pm

Email Hours: Monday through Friday,  8:30am – 5:00pm

Office Hours: Office is closed to visitors

 

Information for Retirees Considering Returning to Work in Critical Positions for Alameda County, Alameda Health System, or Other ACERA Participating Employers

March 26, 2020 2:45 pm

Under normal circumstances, there are restrictions and duration limits for ACERA retirees returning to work for public agencies that participate in ACERA. Most of those restrictions and limits have been suspended during the emergency. If an ACERA employer determines it is essential to bring a retiree back into service during the emergency, the only remaining restriction pertains to retirees who have received unemployment insurance compensation in the 12 months before returning to work. 

This suspension of the normal rules is expected only for the duration of the Governor’s declared emergency. Once that declaration is over, ACERA expects that all the normal rules will apply. 

Retirees considering returning to work to assist in the COVID-19 response efforts should contact their former employers for more information. ACERA does not make the determination of who can and cannot be brought back into service during the emergency. Employers make that determination.  

 

A Message From CEO Dave Nelsen

March 16, 2020 4:45 pm

ACERA Members and Employers,

As the world confronts the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I wanted to update you on how ACERA is responding. I also wanted to address the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy and on ACERA’s investment portfolio—and reassure you that your retirement benefits are safe.

Our top priority here at ACERA is the health and wellbeing of our members, our employees, and our families. We’re in the retirement business, and many of our members are those most at risk from COVID-19. We want to ensure your safety while continuing to serve all of your retirement needs, so here’s what you should know for the coming weeks:

ACERA’s Office is Closed to the Public

ACERA’s office will be closed to the public March 17 through the end of the public health order to shelter in place, but we will continue to work to serve members. As a result, one-on-one Ready-to-Retire counseling appointments are only available via phone. Appointments will be prioritized by date of retirement since we have limited staff; members retiring after April 30 may need to be rescheduled. If you have an existing appointment, we will reach out to you to discuss your options. You can also call us at 510-628-3000 or send us an email. Our response may be delayed, but we will get your message and get back to you as soon as we can.

We’re Processing Retirements on Schedule

If you have submitted an application for an upcoming retirement, don’t worry—we’re processing your application, and you will receive your pension check on schedule. If you are considering retirement in the coming months and haven’t submitted an application, contact us as soon as possible so we can get the process started.

We’re Making Upcoming Retirement Payments on Schedule

Retirees—your upcoming pension payments are on schedule. The next ACERA benefit payment date is Tuesday, March 31. As always, direct deposit transactions will take place on or before this date, and checks will be mailed by this date. Additionally, any members who retire on or before April 1 will receive the 2020 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and the increase will automatically be included in your benefit payments beginning April 30.

All Seminars Will Be Held As Webinars

New-Employee, Mid-Career, Pre-Retirement, and Medicare Transition seminars, will be held solely as webinars until further notice. Additionally, there is a possibility that these may be canceled altogether. The March 17 Pre-Retirement Seminar will be held as a webinar. Registrants should check their email for instructions on how to participate.

Your Retirement Security Is Our Top Priority

Finally, providing you with retirement security is central to our mission at ACERA. We’re able to provide that security through long-term investing. We have built an investment portfolio which is designed to generate returns over decades—rather than days, weeks or months. Over the last 25 years, we’ve earned an average annual return of 9.0% on our investments (as of 12/31/19), a period which includes the last major market downturn in 2008. While our fund is not immune to short-term volatility and extreme market fluctuations, our strategy helps ACERA provide retirement security to our members now and well into the future.

I appreciate your patience, and thank you for serving the Alameda County community in these difficult times. We’ll continue to be at your service for many years to come.

Dave Nelsen

Chief Executive Officer

 

March 11, 2020 5:00 pm

ACERA is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus situation. Our offices currently remain open, though in order to practice the social distancing that health officials are recommending, we ask you to limit visits to ACERA to only those that are absolutely necessary. We are happy to assist you via phone or email—see below.

We ask that if you are ill and/or have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, that you reschedule your visit to ACERA. We recommend you stay home, self-quarantine, and contact your healthcare provider for advice and for testing for COVID-19 infection.

We are currently still conducting Ready-To-Retire One-On-One counseling sessions in our offices, although we are exploring the capability of holding these via phone call or video call. If you currently have a counseling session scheduled, we will contact you with further information.

We have cancelled the March 12 Medicare Transition Seminar, but will provide a video of the seminar on the web at a later date; click here for more information. We are still planning to hold the March 17 Pre-Retirement Seminar, but we will be providing a webinar option so members don’t have to attend in person; if you are currently enrolled in that seminar, we will send you more information via email. All seminars scheduled after that will likely be held only via webinar until further notice.

ACERA is making preparations to ensure we’re able to maintain our critical business operations in the event of quarantines or other adverse effects of the COVID-19 situation. We will ensure that retirees and other payees receive their monthly allowance payments, and that those preparing to retire receive the assistance and member service they need to make their transition into retirement.

 

How To Get More Information or Contact ACERA

1. Check this page | Continue to check this page for future updates.

2. Subscribe to receive email news updates to your inbox | Whenever we post information to our news page, we also send out the same information in an email to our email news subscribers. Click here to subscribe to receive email news and choose any of the lists.

3. Email ACERA directly | If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for on the news page, and you have an urgent matter, ACERA staff will continue to be available by email from our contact page.

4. Call ACERA | If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for on the news page, and you have an urgent matter, ACERA will continue to answer questions over the phone at 1-800-838-1932 or 510-628-3000.

 

A Message to ACERA Retirees From Medicare:

According to the CDC, older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease are at a higher risk of serious illness if they contract the COVID-19 virus. This means that most people with Medicare are at a higher risk.

Your health, safety, and welfare is our highest priority. In addition to practicing good everyday prevention through things such as hand washing and avoiding touching your face, the CDC says there is more you can do to take precautions against COVID-19 and reduce your risk of exposure:

  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces with limited air circulation.
  • Defer all cruise ship travel worldwide, particularly if you also have underlying health issues.
  • Avoid situations that put you at increased risk, including non-essential travel such as long plane trips. 

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Remember: Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19—you pay no out-of-pocket costs. And Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations.