As a participant in the CalPERS system, you're eligible for a defined benefit retirement plan–a lifetime benefit determined by a set formula–provided you meet all the necessary requirements.

Mandatory membership

If you are a full-time employee in a position covered by the CalPERS plan, you will be enrolled on your first day of employment. Part-time employees in positions covered by CalPERS may choose to join; the retirement benefits may be different from those offered to full-time employees.

What are your contributions?

As of 2018, you pay 6.5% of your salary + 6.2% for Social Security + 1.45% for Medicare.

Your employer's contribution varies from year to year. For more information on employer contributions, you can go to: https://www.calpers.ca.gov/page/employers/actuarial-services/employer-contributions

Calculating your benefits

Retirement benefits are based on a formula, rather than contributions and earnings deposited into a savings plan. Retirement benefits are calculated based on a member’s years of service credit, age at retirement, and final compensation.

For more information on calculating your benefit, you can go to: https://www.calpers.ca.gov/page/active-members/retirement-benefits/service-disability-retirement/retirement-estimate-calculator

What happens to my CalPERS account if I change jobs?

If the new position is typically covered under a new retirement system, you must submit a Retirement System Election form to your employer within 60 days of your hire date if you wish to stay with your current retirement system. If you move to the new system, you have two options:

  • You can decide to have dual membership by keeping your account with the old retirement system and having your new job under the new retirement system. In this case, you could retire from both systems at the same time for a concurrent retirement. There are restrictions on this option, so be sure to contact CalSTRS or CalPERS for more information.
  • You can take a refund of your contributions in your old system. Again, you need to find out what the restrictions are by contacting CalSTRS or CalPERS before making this decision. Caution: If you take a refund, you forfeit rights to retirement benefits under the system from which you took the refund.

If you do nothing, you will automatically become a member of the retirement system that covers your new position.

Resources

Because it is important to learn how your CalPERS benefits are calculated and what the impact of changing jobs may be on your benefits, here are some helpful websites to consult: