When you retire from ACERA, we will look at three pieces of data
from your career. We will multiply these three “factors”
together in a formula, resulting in a dollar amount, and we’ll
pay you that dollar amount every month for the rest of your life
(depending on which retirement option you choose). So you
cannot outlive your retirement benefit.
This is how a “defined benefit pension plan” works. ACERA is a
defined benefit pension plan qualified under Section 401(a) of
the Internal Revenue Code. The plan’s formula includes, but is
not limited to, your age at retirement, your years of service,
and salary. It will also be affected by your member type and
ACERA also provides service-connected and non-service-connected
disability benefits for members who become permanently
incapacitated from the performance of their usual and customary
job duties while working for Alameda County or a Participating
ACERA has two membership types, Safety and General, which are
based on job classifications:
Safety Members work in active law
enforcement or positions that have been designated as
Safety by the Board of Retirement (e.g., Sheriff’s Deputies,
Juvenile Hall Group Counselors, Probation Officers, etc.).
General Members are all other members.
Additionally, members will fall into one of the three following
categories based on their work or retirement status:
Getting an early understanding of the formula that ACERA will use to calculate the retirement allowance you’ll receive every month for the rest of your life will make it much easier for you to plan for retirement.
When you retire, ACERA will perform the following multiplication in order to determine your lifetime monthly retirement allowance:
Age Factor Percentage
Years of Service Credit X Highest Average Monthly Salary
= Monthly Retirement Allowance for Life
In general, the higher these factors, the greater your benefit. Note that the highest average monthly salary calculation and age factors used to calculate your benefit vary based on your membership type and tier.
Get a Precision Estimate With the Retirement Calculator in Web Member Services
The most efficient way to get an accurate estimate of your future retirement benefits, including your lifetime monthly retirement allowance, is to use the Benefit Estimator retirement calculator inside Web Member Services. You can always access it from any page by clicking on the blue button in the upper right corner that says “Account Login.”
If you become eligible to retire while a deferred member, you may
The retirement allowance benefits available to you through
deferred membership vary, based on tier and vesting status, as
Vested members who elect deferred membership become eligible to
receive a retirement benefit allowance when they would have
become eligible to retire had they remained in county service.
Eligibility for retirement varies by tier as follows:
Occasionally, an illness or injury may cause a person to become
permanently unable to perform his or her job duties. If you are
an active member of ACERA (Alameda County Employees Retirement
Association) and your illness or injury is severe enough to force
you to stop working and if it is permanent, you may apply for
Disability Retirement. The Board of Retirement will determine
whether you are capable of substantially performing the duties of
your position. If the Board determines you are eligible, you will
be granted a disability retirement benefit.
In the event of your death during active membership, the appropriate death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies) that you indicated when you enrolled in ACERA or subsequently through an ACERA Active or Deferred member Beneficiary Designation Form. The death benefits available to your beneficiaries are detailed in the tables below.
In addition to your vested (guaranteed) benefits, ACERA offers retirees a range of non-guaranteed (non-vested) benefits. The levels of these benefits are reviewed each year by the Board of Retirement, are based on the availability of reserve funds, and may be reduced or eliminated at any time. Because the Board tries to keep these reserve funds sustainable, eligibility requirements for these benefits are also subject to change.
How Does the WMS Benefit Estimator Project My Highest Average Salary?
If you’re in Tier 1 or 3, the Benefit Estimator is looking for a figure that represents your highest 1 year of consecutive pay periods. For Tier 2 and 4, it looks for your highest 3 years.
If you are being paid less right now than at some previous point in your career, the Benefit Estimator will go back in time in your payroll records and find your absolute highest consecutive pay periods, and use those payroll records to calculate your Projected Final Average Salary.