ACERA requires that payments be made via direct deposit. You
will receive a monthly electronic file transfer (EFT)
statement each month with your pension allowance either in
the mail or electronically in your online account. You can opt in
or out of receiving paper statements in your online account.
To change your direct deposit bank use the Direct Deposit Form. State law
prevents ACERA from depositing your pension allowance into a
Cost of Living Adjustments are made to retirement allowances every April 1 in accordance with County Employees Retirement Law of 1937. Each year, the change from December to December in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) is rounded to the nearest half percent and becomes the COLA amount.
Annual COLA Date
Maximum Annual COLA
Tier 1 and Tier 3
Tier 2 and Tier 4
2019–2020 CPI Change
2021 COLA Increase
Tier 1 and Tier 3
Retired on or before 04/01/19
Tier 1 and Tier 3
Retired 04/02/19 – 04/01/21
Tier 2 and Tier 4
Retired on or before 04/01/21
COLA Reflected In Retirement Payment
April 30, 2021
More COLA Info
COLA Maximums and the COLA Bank
The maximum statutory annual COLA increase is 3% for Tier 1 and 3 members and 2% for Tier 2 and 4 members. In years where the CPI increase is greater than these percentages, the difference between your maximum and the rounded CPI increase is automatically banked for future years. The banked percentage is used in years when the COLA is less than the maximum.
If your first day of retirement is April 1 or before, you will get the COLA for that year. If your first day of retirement is April 2 or after, you’ll have to wait for next year’s COLA.
The CPI is a measure of price inflation. Specifically, it is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services such as food, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, and education. The CPI is measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces CPI figures for the U.S as a whole and for major urban areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area. ACERA bases its COLA on the change in CPI for the Bay Area from December to December.
The Supplemental Cost of Living Adjustment (Supplemental
COLA) maintains retirees’ purchasing power at no less than
85% of their original pension allowance. The Supplemental COLA is
a non-vested (non-guaranteed) benefit which is evaluated and
reauthorized annually by the Board of Retirement. It is funded by
the Supplemental Retiree Benefits Reserve
(SRBR). The Supplemental COLA is a separate benefit from the
Annual Supplemental COLA Date
Who Receives 2021 Supplemental COLA?
Retired on or before 04/01/1981
Retired on or before 04/01/2000
Supplemental COLA Reflected In Retirement Payment
April 30, 2021
What Is Purchasing Power?
Purchasing power is the value of your dollars in terms of how
much stuff they’ll buy. In the context of the Supplemental COLA,
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 purchasing power. When this occurs, you may qualify for a
Supplemental COLA to make up the difference and bring you back to
85% of your purchasing power.
How Do You Qualify For the Supplemental COLA?
As noted is the vested COLA posting,
annual CPI increases that exceed the maximum legal percentage for
your tier (2% or 3%) are banked for use in years that the CPI
increase is below the maximum. So if the CPI is 4% and you can
only get a 3% COLA, then 1% goes in your COLA bank. If you have a
banked amount of more than 15%, you qualify to receive
How Much Supplemental COLA Will You Receive?
Your Supplemental COLA will be calculated individually each year
based on your original retirement benefit, any accumulated COLA,
and the percentage you have in the COLA bank. Your Supplemental
COLA amount from the previous year has no connection with your
new Supplemental COLA amount.
How Is This Year’s Supplemental COLA Different From Last Year’s?
The same Tier 1 and Tier 2 retirees will receive a Supplemental
COLA in 2021 as did in 2020.
Since you made your contributions
to the retirement fund on a tax-deferred basis, your ACERA
pension allowance is subject to federal and state income tax
(where applicable). If you made any part of your
contributions using post-tax dollars (usually with a service
credit purchase), a proportionate amount of your pension
allowance is non-taxable.
Income Tax Withholding
As a part of the retirement application process, you
specified how much federal and California state income tax
to withhold from your retirement allowance check (California is
the only state income tax we can withhold). You can update your
withholding at any time using the processes below.
Withholding changes made by the 10th of the month will be
effective on your next monthly retirement allowance. Be sure to
read the withholding form’s instructions carefully, and consult
your tax advisor if you have questions.
Due to IRS rules, ACERA does not allow you to withhold a
flat amount with no allowances. This means you MUST enter a
number in the Allowances Box (Box 2).
A workaround for this is to enter additional allowances in Box 2
until your withholding is below the flat amount that you’re
looking for, and then add an Additional Amount in Box 3 to
bring your withholding up to the flat amount you’re looking for.
Be careful, because you may end up owing taxes (and possibly
penalties) if ACERA doesn’t withhold enough. You can submit
multiple withholding forms to ACERA until your withholding is
adjusted to your needs.
How to Update Your California Income Tax Withholding
The only state income tax ACERA can withhold is California’s. If
you live in another state that collects state income tax, you are
responsible for filing and paying your taxes with your state of
ACERA Reports Your Retirement Income on Form 1099-R
Each year, federal law requires ACERA to report income to its
payees with Form 1099-R, regardless of their taxable status. This
includes payees on duty disability for whom there may be no tax
liability whatsoever. Your 1099-R becomes available in your
online account in mid to late January. We also mail the 1099-R to
payees on or before January 31.
Payees may also receive multiple 1099-R forms for payments
resulting from a member’s death or if benefit adjustments are
paid during the same tax year.
If You Need a Duplicate 1099-R
Log in to your online account to access all of your past 1099-Rs.
Or you may contact us to request us to mail a copy to your
current address. ACERA cannot fax or e-mail this form to
ACERA Cannot Discuss Specific Personal Information With
You Over the Phone
You need to submit inquiries to ACERA Member Services in writing.
Taxation if You Live Outside the United States
If you are considering moving out of the United States and want
to avoid the possibility of 30% taxation on your pension, you
must make sure you have the following documents on file with
U.S. Certified Birth Certificate; verifying you were born in
the United States, or submit a W-9 Form
If you are a Non-Resident Alien, a copy of your green card
A person who is not a U.S. Citizen or resident alien but will be
residing at a non-U.S. address is subject to a mandatory federal
tax withholding on a U.S. income source at the rate of 30%. The
IRS requires these individuals to complete a W-8BEN Form and it
must be submitted to ACERA. For non-citizens and non-resident
aliens, a reduced tax rate including a total tax exemption may
apply if there is a tax treaty between the non-U.S. resident’s
country and the United States.