Retire Now

Overview

Retire Now
You're Ready to Retire in the Next 60 Days

If you’re not ready to retire in the next 60 days, visit our Preparing to Retire section.

 

Step 1: Attend a Pre-Retirement Seminar

Sign up for a live seminar or watch the seminar now on YouTube.

Attend or watch this seminar if you haven’t already. This seminar covers a wealth of information about ACERA membership, retirement allowance benefit formulas, purchasing service credit, retirement allowance options, retiree health, dental, and vision coverage, and much more.

 

Step 2: Attend Your Ready-To-Retire Counseling Session

Due to Alameda County’s Public Health Order, ACERA is not scheduling new counseling sessions at this time. Additionally, we are conducting all existing counseling appointments over the phone. If you already have an appointment scheduled, we’ll call you to convert it to a phone appointment. We’ll update this page with further developments regarding counseling. See our COVID-19 update page for more information.

If you already have a Ready-To-Retire counseling session scheduled, you’ll meet one-on-one over the phone with a retirement specialist who will go over a retirement checklist, provide you retirement estimates, and give you important information.

If you don’t already have a counseling appointment scheduled, you can email ACERA at info@acera.org with any questions you have, and you can skip to Step 3.

Prior to your counseling session, complete the forms in the counseling packet below in order to make the most of your time with your counselor. Don’t sign your forms yet. Email the PDF draft copies of your forms to info@acera.org. ACERA will review them and let you know if any changes or additions needs to be made.

What to Expect During Your Counseling Session

Your retirement counselor will review a counseling checklist and ensure all forms documents are submitted. They will also review your retirement allowance estimates and allowance options with you as well as answer any questions you may have regarding the process and your future retirement benefits.

 

Step 3: Complete Your Retirement Packet

  1. Complete all the forms in the packet labeled mandatory. If you are retiring with 10+ year of service credit, the Vision and Dental Enrollment Forms are mandatory. Also complete the optional forms that apply to you.
  2. Don’t sign your forms yet. Email the PDF draft copies of your forms to info@acera.org. ACERA will review them and let you know if any changes or additions needs to be made.
  3. Once you’ve made any necessary changes specified by ACERA, print your forms and sign them in pen.
  4. Take smart-phone photos or make scanned copies of your Retirement Packet forms.

 

Retirement Packet
Retirement Application Mandatory. See more information about your retirement application below.
80% Authorization Form Mandatory. Authorizes ACERA to start you on 80% payments if there are problems with your file like incomplete documentation
Federal Tax Withholding Form Mandatory. To designate your level of federal tax withholding
California Tax Withholding Form Mandatory. If you plan to live outside California and opt out of California tax withholding, you must check Box 1 and complete the form.
Retirement Option Election Form Mandatory. Will be emailed to you by ACERA after we’ve received your completed Retirement Application
Medical Enrollment Form Optional. If you’d like to enroll in an ACERA group medical plan
Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Enrollment Form Optional. If you’re Medicare-eligible and are enrolling in the Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Plan, you must fill this out in addition to the Medical Enrollment Form.
Dental Enrollment Form

Optional: Less than 10 years ACERA service credit

Mandatory: 10+ years ACERA service credit, but there is no cost for member’s monthly premium

Vision Enrollment Form

Optional: Less than 10 years ACERA service credit

Mandatory: 10+ years ACERA service credit, but there is no cost for member’s monthly premium

Affidavit of Dependent Eligibility Optional. Mandatory if you are electing coverage for eligible dependents age 19 up to age 26 or dependents age 26 and older if incapable of supporting themselves due to a mental or physical disability incurred prior to age 26
Affidavit of Domestic Partnership Optional. Mandatory if you are electing healthcare coverage for a domestic partner.
ACRE Enrollment Form Optional. Enrolls you in the Alameda County Retired Employees (ACRE) retiree association
REAC Enrollment Form Optional. Enrolls you in the Retired Employees of Alameda County (REAC) retiree association
Sample Check Stub Informational. Nothing to complete. Please review the information.
5 Retirement Allowance Options Informational. Nothing to complete. Please review the information.
Retiree Death Benefits Informational. Nothing to complete. Please review the information.

 

Your Retirement Application

In order to retire, you must submit a retirement application to ACERA. When you are within 60 days of your chosen retirement date, you may complete and submit an ACERA retirement application. We can’t accept your application early (more than 60 days before the retirement date you’ve written on your application). Once your submit your application, we scan it into our database and record your date of retirement in our database.

Once that date passes, you’re retired. If you change your mind between when you submit your application and your retirement date, email us a letter with your signature that you’d like us to take your application out of the system, and we’ll do that for you. You can do this up to the day before you retire.

 

Step 4: Photograph or Scan Your Documents

Take smart-phone photos or make scanned copies of the Documents We Need Before You Retire that apply to you.

Also Provide a Voided Check 

Photograph or scan a voided check to go along with the direct deposit section of your retirement application (not a deposit slip).

If you don’t have checks with your account, have your bank send you a letter with all of the following items, and email a copy of it to us:

  1. Bank letterhead
  2. Your full name
  3. Your full account number
  4. Routing number
  5. The type of account it is (checking or savings)

No Trust Accounts: ACERA will not deposit member’s monthly retirement allowance payable to a bank account in the name of a trust.

 

Step 5: Email Your Photos or Scanned Forms and Documents

Email us the photos or scans of your Counseling Packet Forms and Documents to info@acera.org.

 

Step 6: A Few Things to Do While You’re Waiting For Your Retirement Option Election Form 

Change your email address for your ACERA online account.

Your email address is your username for you online ACERA account. Next time you’re logged in to Web Member Services, go to Account Settings to change your email address from your work email to your personal email. This way, you can still use the password recovery feature if you forget your password during your retirement when you will no longer have access to your work email.

If you will be Medicare eligible upon retirement (age 65+), apply for Medicare in advance to receive Medicare benefits.

Apply for Medicare Part A (if you haven’t already) and Medicare Part B (you should only apply for part B after you stop working) in advance of your retirement to ensure that your medical benefits will uninterrupted. Read more on our Medicare page.

Notify your employer in writing of your termination date.

ACERA does not notify your employer; it is up to you. You must provide written notice to your HR department before you can retire.

Contact any agencies you have reciprocity with and apply to retire with each system.

If you have reciprocity with the pension systems of other California public agencies, contact each reciprocal agency and apply to retire with each agency. You must retire from all linked systems on the same day! So the retirement date on each retirement application for each pension system should be the same day. For more information on reciprocal retirement, see our Reciprocity page.

You must notify each system of your planned retirement date and remind the system that you are a reciprocal member. This will ensure all systems coordinate your effective date of retirement.

Here are a few final things to know about your upcoming retirement and lifetime retirement allowance.

Step 7: Choose 1 of 5 Options on Your Retirement Option Election Form

After you email your completed retirement packet to ACERA, ACERA will send you an Retirement Option Election Form on which you will choose one of the five retirement options below. Each option specifies a retirement allowance and a death benefit.

Your selection is permanent, and cannot be changed after ACERA has received your signed, completed retirement election—so it’s important to understand your benefits and your beneficiary’s benefits under each option.

Glossary
  • Beneficiary: a person who receives benefits. An ACERA retiree’s beneficiary is a person the retiree designates to receive their death benefits upon the retiree’s death.
  • Continuance: is a continuing monthly payment to a beneficiary or beneficiaries after an ACERA retiree dies.
  • Continuance beneficiary: the beneficiary an ACERA member names to receive a continuance upon the retiree’s death. Members’ only opportunity to name a continuance beneficiary is at the time of retirement.
  • Lump-sum payment: A one-time death benefit payment to a beneficiary. The beneficiary can be anyone, including a trust or a charity.

 

Unmodified Option

Maximum Retirement Allowance

60% Continuance to Qualified Beneficiary

Retirement Allowance

Benefit paid to retiree

Maximum allowance provided for retiree’s lifetime, based on age, service credit, and final average salary.

Beneficiary’s Benefit

Benefit paid to beneficiary upon retiree’s death

60% Monthly Continuance
  • To spouse or state-registered domestic partner with whom retiree was married/registered at least 1 year before retirement will receive a lifetime monthly continuance of 60% of retiree’s allowance at time of death.
    • If the retiree was on a service-connected disability retirement, the benefit is 100% of retiree’s retirement allowance at the time of death for a spouse or state-registered domestic partner that was married to the member at time of retirement for any amount of time.
  • Or to minor children: monthly continuance of 60% (or 100% for member who retired on service-connected disability) of retiree’s allowance at time of death
    • Can be one child or multiple children. Multiple children will share the collective 60% continuance. 
    • Continuance stops at age 18
    • Or continuance stops at age 22 if child maintains full-time enrollment in an accredited school
    • Continuance stops if they marry or register state domestic partner
Or Lump-Sum Payment to Anyone
  • To beneficiary other than an eligible spouse/state-registered domestic partner or minor child: a one-time, lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus total retirement payments already paid. If the retiree dies after the first 3-5 years of retirement, the lump sum amount will already be exhausted.
If continuance beneficiary dies before retiree

Retiree can name a new beneficiary, but only for a lump-sum payment, not for a continuance.

 

Option 1

Lump Sum Benefit to Beneficiary

No Monthly Continuance

Retirement Allowance

Benefit paid to retiree

Slightly lower allowance for retiree’s lifetime than under unmodified option.

Beneficiary’s Benefit

Benefit paid to beneficiary upon retiree’s death

One-Time Lump-Sum Payment

Lump sum payment = employee contributions + interest – annuity portion of allowance already paid

Beneficiary Can Be
Anyone
Special Considerations
  • This option may leave a higher lump-sum balance to be paid to the beneficiary than under Unmodified Option because contribution balance is paid to the retiree at a slower rate. This option extends the time it takes under the unmodified Option (3–5 years) to exhaust the balance of contributions and interest to a range of 10–12 years.
  • If all contributions and interest have been paid as of retiree’s death, there will be no balance remaining for the beneficiary.
  • Retiree may name a new beneficiary at any time.
If beneficiary dies before retiree Retiree can name a new beneficiary

 

Option 2 

100% Continuance to Beneficiary

Retirement Allowance

Benefit paid to retiree

  • Lower allowance for retiree’s lifetime than under unmodified option
  • Amount of reduction based on beneficiary’s age at time of member’s retirement
Beneficiary’s Benefit

Benefit paid to beneficiary upon retiree’s death

100% Monthly Continuance

Lifetime monthly allowance of 100% of retiree’s allowance at time of death

Beneficiary Can Be
Any one person
Special Considerations
  • Under California law, retiree’s spouse/state-registered domestic partner may have certain rights over any other designated beneficiary.
  • If named beneficiary dies before retiree, retiree’s benefit will not be increased.
  • Retiree’s allowance may be sharply reduced if beneficiary is considerably younger than retiree.
If beneficiary dies before retiree Retiree can name a new beneficiary, but only for a lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly payments already paid. No continuance will be available.
Option 3

50% Continuance to Beneficiary

Retirement Allowance

Benefit paid to retiree

  • Lower allowance for retiree’s lifetime than under unmodified option
  • Amount of reduction based on beneficiary’s age at time of member’s retirement
  • Retiree’s retirement allowance is more than Option 2 because the beneficiary will get less than in Option 2.
Beneficiary’s Benefit

Benefit paid to beneficiary upon retiree’s death

50% Monthly Continuance

Lifetime monthly allowance of 50% of retiree’s allowance at time of death.

Beneficiary Can Be
Any one person
Special Considerations
  • Under California law, retiree’s spouse/state-registered domestic partner may have certain rights over any other designated beneficiary.
  • If named beneficiary dies before retiree, retiree’s benefit will not be increased.
  • Retiree’s allowance may be sharply reduced if beneficiary is considerably younger than retiree.
If beneficiary dies before retiree Retiree can name a new beneficiary, but only for a lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly payments already paid. No continuance will be available.

 

Option 4

Split Continuance to Multiple Beneficiaries

Retirement Allowance

Benefit paid to retiree

  • Lower allowance for retiree’s lifetime than under the unmodified option
  • Amount of reduction based on youngest named beneficiary’s age at time of member’s retirement
Beneficiaries’ Benefit

Benefit paid to beneficiaries upon retiree’s death

Retiree Specifies $ or % Continuance to Multiple Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries Can Be
Anyone
Special Considerations
  • Under California law, retiree’s spouse/state-registered domestic partner may have certain rights over any other designated beneficiary.
  • If named beneficiaries die before retiree, retiree’s benefit will not be increased.
  • Retiree’s allowance may be sharply reduced if youngest beneficiary is considerably younger than retiree.
  • May not be provided if retirement allowance is based on disability retirement.
If beneficiary dies before retiree Retiree can name a new beneficiary, but only for a lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly payments already paid. No continuance will be available.

 

 

A Few Things to Know About Your Upcoming Retirement Allowance

Your First Retirement Check

Once your retirement date passes (the date you chose and wrote on your retirement application), you’re retired! Your first retirement check will be issued 45 days after your last employer paycheck. It will be a paper check you receive in the mail. You will receive a separate Benefit Confirmation letter explaining some of the specifics about your monthly lifetime pension from ACERA. Please note: This letter is sent separately from your first check.

In most cases, your first payment will be your full 100% retirement allowance amount. However, if there are any major issues with your file, such as missing documentation, divorce orders pending, late service credit purchase, etc., you may be paid 80% payments until all issues are resolved. Once resolved, your allowance will be adjusted and a retro amount will be paid for any payments you received under your final 100% payment amount.

 

You Will Receive Your Retirement Allowance Payments From ACERA Every Month for the Rest of Your Life

Retirement allowances are paid on a monthly basis, on the last business day of each month.

 

You Must Sign Up for Direct Deposit to Receive Your Monthly Retirement Allowance

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. Submit a direct deposit form at the time of retirement to set up direct deposit into your account. Please note: ACERA cannot set up trust accounts for direct deposit.

 

You Can Expect an Annual Increase to Your Retirement Allowance Called a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

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 for all retirees and payees. 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. This is a vested benefit.

See the COLA page in the Retirees section for current COLA information.

ACERA also currently provides a non-guaranteed Supplemental COLA that maintains retirees’ purchasing power at no less than 85% of their original retirement allowance.

 

Expect to Pay Taxes (Unless You Move Outside the U.S.)

Your ACERA retirement benefit allowance may be subject to federal and state income tax. As a part of the retirement application process, you will complete IRS form W-4P (Withholding Certificate for Pension Annuity Payments). Be sure to read the instructions carefully, and consult your tax advisor if you have questions. You can update your CA tax withholding after your retirement at any time by completing a new Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments.

Please note: ACERA is governed by the State of California, and thus cannot withhold state income tax for states other than California. If you are living in a state other than California, we strongly suggest consulting a tax advisor about any state tax you may owe.

Your ACERA income will be reported to you each year in January via a 1099-R form.

See our Tax Considerations page for more information.

 

Contact ACERA if you have questions.

Check our Contact Page for more information on how to contact us.

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