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How to Retire with a CalPERS Pension?

1) Tell your employer you’re going to retire. Give them 90 days or more notice. You’re not giving that much notice to be nice. You’re giving them notice so they can give you all of the paperwork you need.

2) Attend a CalPERS seminar that will tell you about all of the options available when retiring on the pension.

When you sign up for the CalPERS seminar, they will record your information including your employer. When the instructor gives the seminar, they will refer to your specific contract so that you don’t get misinformed about benefits you’re not entitled to.

For example, a few CalPERS employers allow you to convert sick time to service credit. However, many cities and counties do not contract for this option even though it’s mentioned a lot in CalPERS documentation. It’s not uncommon for people to believe they have certain benefits when they do not.

3) Make sure your retirement date on CalPERS and your employer is the same date. Making them different might make you ineligible for certain benefits such as retiree health insurance.

4) If you’re getting retiree health insurance or COBRA, review all of your options available and be prepared to make a selection with HR before your last day of work.

Due to the availability of Obama’s healthcare reform and possibly Medicare,┬ámake sure you understand your options and obligations.

For example, most retirees with retiree health insuarnce MUST ENROLL IN MEDICARE or they will have their health coverage canceled. On the other hand, enrollment in Medicare can result in siginificant health insurance premium reductions since the federal government is subsidizing some of your health converage through Medicare.

Some other tips:

If you have a COLA, it’s better to retire on 12/31 rather than 1/1 because you’ll lose a year’s worth of COLA if you wait. Whether or not you have COLA and its amount depends entirely on your employer’s contract with CalPERS.

If you return to work at a CalPERS employer, you will probably have to suspend your pension or face financial penalties. You must tell CalPERS to stop your monthly pension payments. This is intended to prevent the double dipping of pensions with public employment.

If you return to the workforce at a public employer not contracted with CalPERS (example: University of California, which has the UCRP instead of PERS) or if you go to the private sector, you can continue to collect your pension while working at your new job. This is sometimes referred to as double-dipping.