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.
Cost of Living Adjustments are made to retirement allowances every April 1 in accordance with County Employees Retirement Law of 1937. Each year, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most common measure of inflation, is used to calculate the COLA amount.
Between December 2015 and December 2016, the CPI for the Bay Area increased by a rounded 3.5%.
The goal of the Supplemental Cost of Living Adjustment (Supplemental COLA) is to maintain retirees’ purchasing power at no less than 85% of their original retirement allowance. What this means: if it takes more than $1.15 today to purchase what $1.00 would purchase at the time of your retirement, you’ve lost at least 15% of your buying power. When this occurs, you may qualify for a Supplemental COLA to make up the difference and bring you back to 85% of your buying power.
ACERA retired members, dependents, and survivors currently have the opportunity to enroll in medical, dental, and vision plan coverage. Additionally, members may be eligible for subsidies to offset the costs of these plans.
If you move to a new residence, temporarily relocate, or change your mailing address, ACERA will need your new address and contact information. The same goes if your phone numbers change. You should take the following steps, based on your membership status as an active, deferred or retired member.
How Actively Working Employees Change Their Phone Numbers With ACERA
First 5 and Housing Authority: If you work for First 5 and Housing Authority of Alameda County, you can change your home phone number in ACERA’s database by changing your home phone number with your employer—it will get transmitted automatically to ACERA. If you want to change your mobile or work number with ACERA, send us a letter in writing with your signature asking for it to be changed.
To ensure no interruption in your ACERA plan benefits, it is important to keep ACERA and your health plan providers informed of important life changes. This section describes the things you should consider and the steps to take when working through a range of events.
If you get married or register a domestic partner with the California Secretary of State after you retire, you may want to designate your new spouse/partner as your beneficiary, because as an ACERA retiree, you have certain benefits that will be paid at your death. However, in the Election of Retirement Allowance Form you signed at the time of retirement, you made elections regarding your nominated beneficiaries.
Life brings many changes. To name a few: changes in sleeping patterns; changes in eating patterns; and changes in finances. One change that some of us may face, is divorce or state-registered domestic partnership dissolution. When that happens, your ACERA benefits may be impacted.
Retired member associations sponsor newsletters and social events for ACERA retirees and surviving beneficiaries. Members of these associations normally attend ACERA Board and Committee meetings and provide a report to the associations’ respective boards. The associations also lobby on behalf of retirees. Membership is optional. To request a membership application, contact the association or ACERA Member Services.
1st United Services Credit Union was established by the Alameda County employees in 1932. Its Board consists of active and retired employees of Alameda County. ACERA partners with 1st United Services Credit Union to allow a portion of your retirement allowance to be redirected to your account with this financial institution. If you would like to enroll or change your credit union deduction amount, please contact 1st United Services Credit Union at 1‑800‑649‑0193 to request an enrollment or change form.
The CalPERS Long-Term Care Program is the nation’s only voluntary, self-funded, not-for-profit program, which offers extended care for you or a loved one who may need assistance with basic activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or eating. Although this is a voluntary, non-ACERA-sponsored program, you can elect to have the program’s premium paid directly to CalPERS from your retirement allowance.
Retirees can name beneficiaries for the following benefits payable upon the retiree’s death:
A continuance payment. The value is based on the retirement option you nominated at retirement.
A one-time lump-sum death benefit. This benefit is vested. Currently, the maximum benefit provided is $1,000.
Any retirement allowance earned but not yet paid to the retiree at the time of the retiree’s death. This benefit is pro-rated to cover the amount payable for the portion of the month prior to the retiree’s death.
A refund of excess contributions. This benefit is provided if the total payments made to the beneficiary are less than the retiree’s contributions and interest on deposit with ACERA.
A refund of prepaid health payments that will not be used. If a member’s check is not large enough to cover health care premiums, in some instances he/she may be paying ACERA two months in advance for the cost of those premiums. The beneficiary will receive a refund of any payment not used. These benefits are taxable. Beneficiaries will receive Form 1099® for income reporting purposes.
After your retirement date passes, ACERA will mail you an Election of Retirement Allowance on which you will choose one of the five retirement options. 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(ies)’ benefits under each option.
Unmodified Option: Provides the Maximum Monthly Lifetime Benefit
Benefit paid to retiree
Maximum allowance provided for retiree’s lifetime, based on age, service credit, and final average salary.
Benefit paid to beneficiary on retiree’s death
For spouse/state-registered domestic partner with whom retiree was married/registered at least one year before retirement, lifetime monthly allowance 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.
For minor child(ren), collective monthly allowance of 60% (or 100% for member who retired on service-connected disability) of retiree’s allowance at time of death, payable to the minor child(ren) until the minor marries/registers or reaches age 18 (or age 22 if enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited school).
For a beneficiary other than a spouse/state-registered domestic partner or minor child, a one-time, lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly retirement payments already paid.
If named beneficiary dies before retiree
Upon retiree’s death, alternate or newly named beneficiary will only receive lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly payments already paid.
ACERA asks its members to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries, to whom benefits are payable in the event of death. It is important to keep your beneficiary designations current (addresses and phone numbers) to ensure timely payments are made to the appropriate individuals.