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LACERA NEWS

Alameda Case Update for LACERA Legacy Members

On July 30, 2020, the California Supreme Court issued a decision (Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Assoc. v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Association, aka ’the Alameda Decision’) affirming the legal protection of pension benefits as "vested rights" under the California Constitution. The Supreme Court rejected the legal challenges and upheld PEPRA’s changes even as applied to legacy members. "Legacy members" include general members in Plans A, B, C, D, or E or safety members in Plans A or B. The plaintiffs in the case argued that legacy members were entitled to have their pension benefit calculated according to pre-PEPRA definition of compensation earnable. Compensation earnable includes pay items that determine a member’s retirement benefit. The Court disagreed, noting that CERL is the authority of the county retirement boards. Since PEPRA amended the definition of compensation earnable, LACERA must implement the PEPRA definition of compensation earnable.

LACERA has determined that some LACERA members may be affected by the Alameda Decision. A few pay items previously considered as pensionable income must now be excluded from retirement calculations and deductions. Fortunately, the LACERA Board of Retirement has always maintained a conservative approach when determining compensation earnable and has never included unused vacation, termination pay, and in-kind payments in this definition. However, LACERA has identified one item, Standby Pay, that the Board included as pensionable which the Alameda Decision would now deem non-pensionable.

Standby Pay must now be excluded from retirement calculations for Legacy members. It is important to note, under certain circumstances, some Legacy members may have an account that reflects two plans that include a PEPRA plan such as Plan G for general members or Plan C for safety members. However, this decision only applies to the Legacy plan portion of these accounts, Standby Pay was never pensionable under PEPRA plans G General and C Safety.

LACERA will soon begin the process of adjusting accounts for Legacy members who were paid Standby Pay on or after January 1, 2013, including accounts for members who have since retired. We understand that many members may have questions or concerns about these adjustments to their account and benefits. If you are affected, LACERA will notify you once the calculation is complete. Please understand, that LACERA and other retirement associations have no authority or discretion to calculate pensionable pay or benefit calculations in a manner inconsistent with CERL or PEPRA.

If you have any questions about the Alameda Decision, please contact us by calling 800-786-6464 between 7:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday or email us at welcome@lacera.com.

2/24/21 CEO Update: Vaccine Information and Additional Phone Service Hours

Dear Members:

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe as we continue to endure the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now that vaccines from several pharmaceutical companies have begun to be distributed, I wanted to share with you how LACERA is working to ensure you and other members continue to receive the service and care you deserve.

Expansion of Vaccination Resources

We are in constant contact with our health care plan partners and will keep you up to date on their vaccination plans. California health organizations are now working together to stage mass vaccination hubs in both Southern and Northern California. Visit the state vaccination website, myturn.ca.gov to see if you are eligible for the vaccine and to make an appointment.

In addition to mass vaccination hubs, as of February 12, CVS Health began offering vaccinations as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to eligible people at a number of CVS Pharmacies across the country.

I also encourage you to check your eligibility and register to be vaccinated on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov. Currently, the County is vaccinating healthcare workers, long-term care workers, people 65 and older, and other Tier 1 eligible individuals. Contact your healthcare provider for more information.

Additional Phone Service Hours for Members

In more immediate news, we are currently in the period of increased retirement applications, lovingly referred to by LACERA staff members as "March Madness". Because of the increase in retirements, we offer extra time and opportunities for our members to receive the assistance and information they need. Since our physical office is still closed, we are extending our phone availability to meet your needs and ensure everyone who needs service will receive it.

As a substitute to Saturday MSC in-office service, Member Services and Retiree Healthcare have partnered to offer extended Call Center phone service hours from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the following Saturdays:

  • February 27
  • March 6, 13, 20

We are carefully gauging our member response to these additional phone service hours and are prepared to offer additional extended service as necessary in March and April.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
      ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday and the Saturdays listed above for extended service hours.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
      ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday and the Saturdays listed above for extended service hours.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

I hope you find our dedication to you and other members reassuring in this challenging time. Please know that we are here to serve you and to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

Annual Notice of Your Right to Elect or Revoke Federal Tax Withholding

The monthly pension payment you receive from LACERA is subject to federal income tax withholding, although a service-connected disability retirement could provide you with an exception. You may elect not to have federal income tax withheld, or otherwise change your withholding election, at any time by filing a completed Form W-4P/DE-4P tax withholding election as described below. If you do not have a valid election in place, LACERA is required to withhold income tax from your monthly allowance as if you were married and claiming three withholding exemptions.

For more information visit the Federal Income Tax Withholding section. There, you can learn about how your specific retirement situation could impact your tax deductions. It is important to note you could incur tax penalties if sufficient tax is not withheld from your payments and your payments of estimated tax are not adequate.

If you do not want to change your existing election, no action is necessary. Your existing election remains in effect until you revoke or change it.

Making Changes to Your Tax Withholding(s)

There are two ways to easily adjust your tax withholding election. You can either change it on My LACERA or download, complete and submit the necessary form.

1) My LACERA: This is the easiest and fastest way to adjust your tax withholding.

  • Sign in to your My LACERA account.
  • Select "Tax/1099-R."
  • Select "Adjust Election."
    • To adjust your federal tax elections, provide the appropriate information, then click "Confirm."
    • To adjust your California tax elections, provide the appropriate information, then click "Confirm."
  • After entering your name, click "Submit."

2) Download and submit your forms.

  • Go to lacera.com.
  • Select "Brochures & Forms."
  • Select "Manage Your Retirement Payments."
  • Find "Federal & CA Income Tax Withholding on Retirement Income (W-4P, DE-4P) Form."
  • Select "View PDF."
  • Print out and complete the form.
  • Upload the signed form via your My LACERA account or mail to:
           LACERA
           PO Box 7060
           Pasadena, CA 91109-7060

The withholding tax elections you indicate become effective with the pay cycle following LACERA’s receipt of your adjustments.

Please note, LACERA does not provide tax advice. Consult with a professional advisor to determine which withholding category is best for your personal situation.

2/22/21 Report from LACERA’s Investment Office

Dear Members:

As we come up on a year since we have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to assure you that your LACERA benefits remain secure.

Your retirement security is our core objective. LACERA and the dedicated team of professionals in our Investments Division maintain a stable, long-term strategy to uphold each component of LACERA’s mission statement: "To produce, protect, and provide the promised benefits" to members.

Promised Benefits: Your LACERA Benefits Are Not Affected by Market Movements

As a member of a "defined benefit" pension like LACERA, your benefits do not change based on financial market performance. LACERA benefits are generally determined by your length of service and a salary formula. While the value of LACERA’s assets will move up and down based on market conditions, your member benefits are not affected.

LACERA invests contributions from L.A. County and members, abiding by a legal doctrine known as "fiduciary duty." Fiduciary duty requires LACERA to act in the exclusive interest of you as LACERA members. Consistent with that duty, we aim to maximize risk-adjusted returns in order to minimize County and employee contributions and to pay promised benefits to current and future members.

Your LACERA pension benefit is unlike defined contribution plans you may participate in, such as 401(k) and 457(b) programs, where participants select individual investment strategies in their personal accounts. Participants in these defined contribution accounts may benefit in rising markets as their account balances increase, but the value may also decrease during market downturns

To Produce and Protect: LACERA Diversifies Investment Risks and Opportunities Over a Long Time Horizon through Strategic Asset Allocation

LACERA intentionally diversifies its investments across different industries, geographies, and strategies which protects the portfolio and avoids overly concentrating investments into any asset class. This process is called "strategic asset allocation" and it determines how much capital LACERA invests in each asset class to maximize risk-adjusted returns over a long-term investment horizon. LACERA reviews its strategic asset allocation targets, generally every three years. In the summer of 2020, LACERA’s Board of Investments commenced an in-depth study of the portfolio’s targets. The study is expected to be completed by mid-year of 2021.

LACERA categorizes investments into four functional asset classes based on the role we expect them to serve in a diversified, balanced portfolio.

Chart illustrating LACERA's Asset Allocation as of 3/31/2020

Beyond strategic asset allocation, LACERA took several steps in recent years to further maximize investment returns while mitigating risks. LACERA’s risk analysis capabilities have been enhanced through the use of a data analytics platform which allows LACERA to better assess the portfolio against its desired risk and return profile. LACERA also expanded its focus on analyzing and considering sustainability factors—often called environmental, social, and governance risk factors—that may impact the portfolio’s investment performance. We believe a better understanding of these risks will lead to better long-term investment returns. Additionally, LACERA elevated its T.I.D.E initiative, which stands for "Towards Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity." This initiative reflects LACERA’s view that organizations making investment decisions realize better outcomes when they access and incorporate wider talent and views that reflect the diversity of human experiences. This initiative is not only an important consideration for LACERA’s own internal team but also every investment manager that we contract with or consider. We believe that these programs collectively will lead to better outcomes for LACERA’s investment portfolio and members.

To Provide: LACERA Maintains a Strong Cash Balance to Pay Benefits Today and into the Future

LACERA diligently manages liquidity to ensure it has adequate cash at all times to pay member benefits even if markets become volatile. Currently, LACERA has about $1.5 billion in cash and money-market assets. In addition, over 50% of LACERA’s $65 billion portfolio is in liquid, publicly traded instruments. These investments can be converted to cash within a short amount of time, if necessary.

LACERA remains focused on a disciplined, risk-aware approach to investing, rooted in our commitment to provide members the promised benefits. We continue to assess portfolio risks and opportunities so that whatever happens, the necessary funds remain available for LACERA benefit payments. Detailed financial reports and periodic updates are available at www.lacera.com.

We wish you and your families good health. Please stay strong.

Best regards,

Jonathan Grabel signature

Jonathan Grabel
Chief Investment Officer

1/29/2021 CEO Update: Extended Phone Service Hours, Paperless Delivery Options, and COVID-19 Vaccine Availability Information

Dear Members:

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, we at LACERA have worked diligently to maintain uninterrupted service and to fulfill our mission despite the unprecedented challenges.

Although our physical Member Service Center in Pasadena remains closed, we are working diligently behind the scenes and at-home to maintain the quality of service you deserve and expect. In preparation for reopening, once it has been deemed safe by the State of California and County of Los Angeles, we have created protocols and guidelines to protect you and our staff. Please refer to our website for more information about our preparations for a post-COVID LACERA.

Additional Phone Service Hours for Members

In more immediate news, December to March is a period of increased retirement applications, lovingly referred to by LACERA staff members as "March Madness", and we traditionally offer extra time and opportunities for our members to receive the assistance and information they need. Because our physical office is still closed, we are extending our phone availability to meet your needs and ensure everyone who needs service will receive it.

As a substitute to Saturday MSC in-office service, Member Services and Retiree Healthcare have partnered to offer extended Call Center phone service hours from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the following Saturdays:

  • January 30
  • February 6, 20, and 27

We are carefully gauging our member response to these additional phone service hours and are prepared to offer additional extended service as necessary in March.

Opting for Paperless Delivery

LACERA now offers you the opportunity to opt out of receiving physical copies of certain documents in the mail. To opt in to receive digital versions of your documents, visit the Document Delivery Option on your My LACERA portal. You will have the option to choose which documents you would like to receive digitally or by mail, including:

  • Automatic Deposit Receipts (ADRs)
  • Annual Benefits Statements (ABS)
  • Newsletters

Once you enroll, you’ll receive a confirmation email to ensure everything is working correctly and your email has been verified. Thereafter, whenever one of the documents you requested to receive digitally is uploaded to the Document Center, you will receive an email notice that it is available for you to view. Members opting to receive the newsletter electronically will be sent an email with a link to access the newsletter on lacera.com

COVID-19 Vaccination Availability

COVID-19 has defined the last year of our lives. Thankfully, that may not be true for much longer. Several vaccines have already received FDA approval, and millions of individuals are already receiving their shots.

Check with your health provider at the website or phone number provided below for the following LACERA-administered group health plans to see when you may qualify to receive a vaccination.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
      ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday and the Saturdays listed above for extended service hours.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
      ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday and the Saturdays listed above for extended service hours.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

As we navigate this challenging time, know that LACERA is committed to improving and updating our services for you and I hope you find strength knowing that we at LACERA are committed to protecting and providing your promised benefits. We will continue to keep you updated and will let you know as soon as we have a date for reopening our Member Services Center.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

8/26/2020 CEO Update: Ongoing LACERA Elections, Future Plans for Member Services

Dear Members:

It has been over five months since we closed our Member Services Center and moved our member operations to online and phone appointments, but we are planning for the future. While we do not yet have a reopening date, we have made strides to ensure the safety of both you and our staff members. But first, I'd like to remind and encourage you to vote in our current ongoing Board Elections.

2020 LACERA Board Elections

Elections are currently being held for the Second and Eighth Trustees of the Board of Investments and the Eighth Trustee of the Board of Retirement. General and Retired Members are now able to cast their vote online or by telephone until August 31st, at 11:59 p.m.

All Active Members with a County email address and Retired Members with a valid email address on file received login credentials and instructions on how to access the voting system. Eligible voters who did not have a valid email address on file were sent login credentials in the mail on August 3rd.

To learn more about how to vote, the election itself, and to review the candidates, call the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors at 213-974-1093 or visit the dedicated County website here.

Planning for a Return to LACERA Offices

Although our remote phone center and virtual Member Services Center have been very successful and we have already helped thousands of members remotely, we know that you may want to visit us in person in the future. We have established expanded protocols and plans to ensure that any such visit is safe and protects the health of both you and our staff members. Among these new safety measures are assigned seating in our lobby area and frequent cleaning protocols. All visitors and staff members will be required to wear face coverings at all times. We will share these protocols and any additional ones when we are nearer to our re-opening date.

In addition, we are reconfiguring the layout of our Member Services Center with personal protective screens in our counseling offices, the installation of additional monitors to improve our ability to share information during our counseling sessions, and directional signs to streamline how people travel around the Member Services Center. Also, all future in-person meetings will be by appointment only. This will help us prioritize your visit and limit any possible exposure.

My LACERA Makes Your Retirement Easy

My LACERA is your one-stop online account portal where you can access all of your LACERA benefits information, pre- or post-retirement.

Planning your retirement? On My LACERA, you can:

  • Ask questions via secure email or schedule an appointment with a specialist.
  • Conveniently upload and share documents with us.
  • View your retirement contributions.

Enjoying your retirement? Log in to My LACERA to:

  • Sign up for Direct Deposit, a faster and safer way to receive your benefits.
  • View many of your regular documents like 1099's, copies of your Automatic Deposit Receipt, and more in our secure account portal.

Don't forget to:

  • Keep your contact info up to date so that we can always reach you as quickly as possible, now through new email notifications.
  • Add or update your beneficiary's information.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
      ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

I hope you are healthy and enjoying the last of your summer. We will continue to keep you updated and will let you know as soon as we have a date for reopening our Member Services Center.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

8/12/2020 CEO Update: Virtual Member Services Center and My LACERA

Dear Members:

It's finally, yet suddenly, August! I have some significant updates about our programs at LACERA, all designed to make your membership more convenient and secure, as well as some good news about your vested pension rights.

Update on Virtual Member Services Center

As you may recall, we opened our Virtual Member Services Center (VMSC) in June to provide members an opportunity to sign up for one-on-one counseling via telephone or online over GoToMeeting. In June alone, we provided remote service to over 300 members, including 177 who opted for virtual face-to-face meetings.

The VMSC is readily accessible on all devices (phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops) and is designed to be easy to use. This technology enables us to continue to serve you wherever you are while we continue to follow physical distancing measures. The reception from members has been very positive, and I'm proud of the work that our IT and Member Services Divisions have done to make this all possible.

Attend LACERA Board Meetings Online

You can now attend all public Board meetings online and even participate online or over the phone. For links or a phone number to participate, look at the What?s New section on the lacera.com homepage and click on the date of the upcoming Board meeting you wish to attend.

You may submit a request to speak or a written comment by emailing publiccomment@lacera.com. If you are requesting to speak, please include your contact information, agenda item, and meeting date in your request. Public comment requests must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the scheduled meeting. We look forward to you joining us: Your input is not only welcome but crucial as we continuously improve the healthcare programs and retirement plans that we administer on your behalf.

California Supreme Court Affirms Vested Pension Rights

On July 30, the California Supreme Court issued an important decision affirming the legal protection that pension benefits have as "vested rights" under the California Constitution. This principle is known as the "California Rule." The court's decision means that the pension rights you earn during your employment as a LACERA member are not subject to change except under very limited circumstances that do not currently exist at LACERA.

In the case, entitled Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Assoc. v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Assn., employee organizations and employees filed a lawsuit challenging changes to the law in 2013 that certain items of compensation—including cashed-out leave in an amount greater than earnable in a single year, on-call duty pay, and termination pay—can be excluded from pensionable compensation. The Supreme Court disagreed and unanimously concluded that this law was constitutional under the California Rule, even without comparable advantages to compensate for the change, because the law was designed to prevent abuses such as pension spiking and was therefore consistent with the sound administration of the pension system. However, in its decision the court strongly asserted the continuing protection afforded to your benefits by the California Rule, which is positive news for LACERA members.

While the Alameda case is an important legal development, it is not expected to result in changes for LACERA members. The types of compensation at issue in the Alameda case are not pensionable at LACERA. Over many years, LACERA's Board of Retirement has carefully reviewed all pay items for pensionability in compliance with applicable law, and that process will continue in the future.

My LACERA Makes Your Retirement Easy

My LACERA is your one-stop, online account portal, where you can access all of your LACERA benefits information, pre- or post-retirement.

Planning your retirement? On My LACERA, you can:

  • Ask questions via secure email, or schedule an appointment with a specialist.
  • Conveniently upload and share documents with us.
  • View your retirement contributions.

Enjoying your retirement? Log in to My LACERA to:

  • Sign up for Direct Deposit and receive your benefits faster.

Don't forget to:

  • Keep your contact info up to date so that we can always reach you as quickly as possible, now through new email notifications.
  • Add or update your beneficiary's information.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
      ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA via lacera.com to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

Remember, we're here to serve and be accessible to you, despite the current logistical challenges. I'm proud of the hard work our staff members have done and continue to do to make that happen.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

7/2/2020 CEO Reminder: My LACERA Document Upload and Other Services

Dear Members:

Today, I'd like to remind you about some helpful and exciting features on our My LACERA platform—a digital space we've created where you can manage your retirement, set up an appointment with or contact a specialist, and share documents or forms with LACERA.

My LACERA Document Uploading, Sharing and Viewing

We continually work to find new ways to provide improved services to you. One of our most recent updates allows members to share vital info, documents, and forms with us directly and instantly online. You no longer have to take a trip and stand in line at the post office, you can just send it to us from the comfort of your home.

To visit My LACERA, first go to lacera.com and then click "My LACERA" in the top right corner underneath the search bar or on the My LACERA web banner at the bottom right of the homepage.

Illustrates where to find the link to My LACERA on LACERA's homepage.
Illustrates where to find the banner link to My LACERA on LACERA's homepage.

 

After logging into My LACERA, at the top right corner you'll find an "Upload" button. Here you'll be able to upload any document on your computer that you need to share with LACERA, or forms you've been asked to fill out and sign, including multi-page and separate documents. Just select the document you want to share and click upload. It's that easy! Please keep in mind that while many documents can be uploaded via My LACERA, sometimes original copies are required. To submit an original copy, please mail it to P.O. Box 7060 Pasadena, CA 91109-7060.

Illustrates where to find the link to Uploads on My LACERA's homepage.

 

In addition, you'll be able to view, save, or print any documents we share with you in the Document Center under the Documents tab in the top right corner and even see a list of documents we've shared with you previously in the Interactions tab.

Illustrates where to find the link to Documents on My LACERA's homepage.

 

My LACERA Is Here to Serve You

If you haven't signed up yet for My LACERA, I encourage you to do so. In addition to quickly and easily sharing documents, you can also update your beneficiaries' information, view your retirement contributions, review your Retirement Benefit Estimate, purchase service credit, and even schedule a virtual appointment with one of our retirement specialists. And, if you want to contact us, click "Send Message" at the bottom left of the home page. This portal is a safe, secure, and convenient way for you to get in contact with a LACERA specialist.

Don't forget to keep all your contact info up to date so that we can always reach you as quickly and easily as possible. Any time you change your email, mailing address, or phone number, immediately log into My LACERA to provide us with that information. This will help us keep you informed about everything you need to know about your LACERA membership. This contact info is also where we will send you an email confirmation when you have made changes to My LACERA, confirmations for successful document uploads, notices for when your Automatic Deposit Receipt (ADR), and other important documents are available.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday.
    1. ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

We're here to help you. If you have not already signed up for My LACERA or haven't recently updated your contact information, doing so can help us provide you with the best service possible.

Finally, all of us at LACERA wish you and your families a safe, happy, and healthy 4th of July!

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

6/12/2020 CEO Update: Virtual Member Service Center

Dear Members:

Someone once said, when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. That is a very apt statement when we step back and look at the impacts of COVID-19 on LACERA (and many other businesses). We have all had to find new ways to provide the services that we provided before the pandemic. While COVID-19 is certainly a challenge, we have found ways to overcome it and make the best with what we have. We have previously shared the success we have had in establishing a Remote Call Center. Our member experience when calling LACERA is now the same as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are proud to announce that we are taking the next step in our efforts to normalize operations with the grand opening of our new Virtual Member Service Center. Members have long been able to visit LACERA and participate in face-to-face, in-depth counseling appointments with our Retirement Benefit Specialists. These appointments, averaging about an hour, provide enough time to review multiple retirement scenarios, discuss purchases of service credit that may maximize benefits, and walk members through the retirement process.

How Does the Virtual Member Service Center Work?

We have virtualized the process! Members can visit lacera.com and click on our Appointment System link to schedule an appointment—just like before the pandemic. They will have two options to choose from: Telephone Counseling Appointment or a Virtual Retirement Counseling Appointment.

Illustrates where to find the link to Appointments on LACERA's homepage.

Members selecting our Virtual Retirement Counseling will interact via a secure GoToMeeting video counseling appointment. Members will receive an invitation email before their schedule meeting with a link that will allow them to open a video counseling session where they will be able to see our Specialist. Through the application, the Specialist can interact with the member, share documents on their screen, and provide the same type of in-depth counseling we provided in our offices. Plus, if the member has a camera on their device, they can participate via video as well (this is entirely optional and up to the member). If the member chooses this option, they too can share documents on their screen with the Specialist to see. We find that sometimes the human connection of a face-to-face counseling sessions helps establish an important connection with our members.

Illustrates where to find the Appointment Locator drop-down menu on LACERA's Appointment and Workshop Reservation System.

Members may also select a Telephone Counseling Appointment. This session is conducted entirely by telephone and does not involve any video connections. The member receives the same type of counseling—they just cannot see the Specialist and the Specialist cannot share any documents for the member to see.

These two offerings—available now—usher in a new era of servicing our members. We believe our Virtual Retirement Counseling Appointments will be a welcome permanent addition to our ability to connect with our members. In addition to offering a safe alternative in a volatile COVID-19 environment, it also introduces a new level of convenience for members. Members no longer have to drive to LACERA—they can now get the same in-depth counseling from the comfort of their home or office.

Document Upload Portal on My LACERA and Future Updates

Before we go, I want to also highlight a new function that is available through My LACERA in conjunction with our virtual MSC. Members can log in and upload documents to share with us. Now, you won't have to mail or drop off documents, you can just upload and share them with us instantly. It's just one more way we have increased the conveniences of the services we offer.

Finally, I want to share two teasers of what's to come. While we are super excited about our Virtual Member Services Center, we understand some members still feel more comfortable meeting us in person. We are working on establishing a limited number of appointments at our offices later this summer. And, we are also working on offering our very popular retirement seminars via webinars within the next month or so.

When life handed LACERA a lemon—we took it as a challenge to make lemonade.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
    1. ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

5/29/2020 CEO Update: Normalization of Services and Planning for an Uncertain Future

Dear Members:

As this pandemic unfolds, we are continuing to normalize our operations while simultaneously preparing for future contingencies. We understand that circumstances may arise in the future that may require us to react and adapt in unexpected ways. As such, we are planning a series of upgrades to our system and how we interface with our members so that we can provide you with the service you expect and deserve.

Normalization of LACERA's Services and Future Preparations

I want to reassure you that despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, LACERA's commitment to you and other members has not faltered and our services and finances remain strong and consistent.

As we move forward, we will continue to monitor health advisories from the County Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and adjust our plans as necessary. When such an organization issues an advisory, our Executive Team discusses the advisory to determine how it affects our organization and how we can best fulfill its requirements. For example, although our staff will continue to work remotely for now, once the Social Distancing restrictions are lifted or eased, we will be working to bring staff back to our offices safely—while also preparing our workforce and systems to be nimble and flexible in the future.

Virtual Member Services Center

As you know, over the last several months, we have developed a Remote Call Center where you and other members can speak with our Retirement Benefit Specialists who are fully trained and equipped to work remotely. In fact, despite receiving more calls in the month of May than we have received in that month for the last ten years, we are answering 80 percent of calls within one minute. We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish in such a short time.

Due to the success of the Remote Call Center, we are working to develop a Virtual Member Services Center which will allow you to do almost all the things you need to do if you were visiting us in-person, online.

The Virtual Member Services Center will provide face-to-face appointments, where you can receive in-depth answers to your questions and any other services you may need when preparing to retire or after retirement. Just like before the pandemic, members will be able to schedule these one-on-one sessions with our Retirement Benefit Specialists, which will now be conducted through GoToMeeting, an online videoconference service. The Retirement Benefit Specialist will be able to share data visually with you, while they provide the type of counseling and help you would normally receive when you visit our offices. They can even assist you with submitting documents online. Don't have a computer? Not a problem, you will be able to schedule these meetings and we'll reach out to you by phone. Watch your inbox for information on how to use this new system in the future.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
    1. ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

As we continue to normalize our operations, I will be sending fewer of these regular updates. Please know that even if I am not writing to you every week, our work is far from finished. We will continue to provide you with excellent service as well as updates on how we will continue our mission in the future.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

5/21/2020 CEO Update: Contribution Rate Changes and Upcoming Board Elections

Dear Members:

As we continue to work hard to provide uninterrupted service in our day-to-day operations and to fulfill our mission, we are still looking forward to the future. Today, I would like to share with you some announcements regarding upcoming updates to your LACERA contributions.

Employee and Employer Contribution Rate Changes

LACERA is funded by employer and employee contributions—in addition to investment returns—that secure pension and benefits payments to current retirees and future generations still in active service. Every three years, LACERA's independent actuarial firm performs an experience study that looks at LACERA's membership demographics and economic trends such as wage growth, investment returns, consumer price index, and other financial assumptions, to determine what is likely to happen in the future. In addition, the actuary conducts an annual valuation of the fund's liabilities to determine future required contributions. Based on all this information, the actuary each year provides recommendations to the Board of Investments on the employer and employee contributions needed to keep the LACERA fund financially healthy.

LACERA's professional financial staff members also review the actuarial study and provide the Board of Investments with a recommendation and other alternatives to adjust the contribution rates, based on the actuarial valuation. After robust discussions over several months and considering input from the County and labor union representatives, the Board of Investments then adopts employee and employer contribution rate changes and submits them to the Board of Supervisors.

On May 12th, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the new employer and employee contribution rates.

The new employee rates will go into effect on July 1st. Members will see the revised contribution deductions reflected in their County paychecks starting on July 30th. At that time, employee contribution rates will change for all plans and all members excluding non-contributory Plan E. To find out how your plan's contribution rate will change, visit.

The new County contribution rates will increase for all retirement plans by 1.68 percent from a total calculated employer contribution rate of 20.91 percent, to 22.59 percent. The Board of Investments agreed to allow the County retirement contribution payments to be made gradually over three years to provide some budgetary relief in the upcoming fiscal year, and to help the County preserve critical staffing and address funding its needs in response to the pandemic. Employer rate adjustments, like the adjustments made to employee contributions, will ensure the long-term financial health and viability of the LACERA retirement fund for current and future retirees.

LACERA Board Elections

Between August 5th and 31st, the County will be holding elections for seats on both the Board of Investments and the Board of Retirement, whose terms expire on December 31st, 2020.

Retired Members who retired on or before April 15th are eligible to vote for the Retired Member and Alternate Retired Member on the Board of Retirement, and for the Retired Member on the Board of Investments. Retirees have three options for casting their vote: online, telephonic, and paper ballot. Voter information will be emailed to those with valid email addresses on file with LACERA. You can update your email or physical address on My LACERA by editing your profile or by calling us at 800-786-6464. Those without valid emails will receive their instructions in the mail.

Retired Members also have the option to vote by paper ballot and submit it by mail. To do so, you must submit a request by 5 p.m. on June 18th by calling 213-974-1093 or emailing lacera_election@bos.lacounty.gov. If you submit a request over email, include your full name and complete address on file with LACERA.

General Members will be voting for the Second Member on the Board of Retirement and the Second Member on the Board of Investments. You can vote during working hours on County property either online or over the phone. In August, check your county email address where you will be sent individualized login credentials.

If you want any additional information regarding the elections, or a copy of the election resolution, email the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk at electionplanning@rrcc.lacounty.gov or the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors at lacera_election@bos.lacounty.gov or call 213-974-1093. You can also find more information on the Board of Supervisors' website.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
    1. ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

LACERA thinks and plans with long-term stability in mind. Our Boards and our staff will continue to use prudence and caution to protect and ensure your promised benefits as we adapt to challenges every day.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

5/13/2020 CEO Update: Remote Call Center Experience and Pre-Retirement Webinars

Dear Members:

Last week I updated you on how LACERA is responding to your needs while complying to the Safer-At-Home guidelines. Today, I'd like to go into more detail on how we've made that Remote Call Center a reality while ensuring information security. In addition, I'd like to take the opportunity to promote our upcoming webinar series with Empower Retirement for those of you who are considering retirement.

Remote Call Center Experience

COVID-19 impacted many businesses over the last few months, and LACERA is no exception. We were forced to adapt and open a Remote Call Center during our busiest retirement month, a period we call March Madness. Our first challenge was to identify possible providers for our new system. Under the direction of LACERA's Executive Office and Systems Division, Amazon Connects quickly became the leading contender for many reasons, including pre-existing contractual agreements between Amazon and the County.

Now, when you call LACERA, you will be automatically routed to a Member Service Specialist who can offer the same services we've always provided over the phone. Despite the technological changes, your experience should be seamless and exactly the same as in the past. Additionally, our calls will be recorded for quality assurance while your information remains confidential.

Despite the challenges, almost 2000 members have already retired this year, and we're proud to share that we have answered over 4800 phone calls on our new system since it launched on April 30th. We're here for you and excited to keep helping our members every day.

Pre-Retirement Webinars

LACERA has had a long-standing partnership with Empower, the administrators of the County's Deferred Compensation plans. For years, we have partnered together to host Pre-Retirement workshops and other seminars to help members get the info they need to make informed retirement decisions.

After we closed our Member Services Center, we replaced all in-person appointments and workshops with phone or online alternatives. If you were planning to attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop, LACERA and Empower Retirement are scheduling upcoming retirement counseling webinars to cover information ranging from County 457(b) and 401(k) savings plans, retirement healthcare, and general retirement planning.

Upcoming webinars will be hosted on the following dates:

Date Time Subject
Tuesday, May 19th 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Pre-Retirement Workshop
Thursday, May 28th 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Pre-Retirement and Retirement Health Workshop
Thursday, May 28th 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Market Volatility Hosted by Empower Retirement
 

If you are interested in participating in any of these workshops and seminars, check your inbox. Empower will be sending a webinar invite to all County employees through the County's email system with a sign-up link and instructions on how to attend. Additional seminars on these topics will be scheduled in the future. If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, call 800-786-6464.

If you would like to preview what these workshops have to offer, you can find the presentations from Empower and LACERA by visiting our website.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here?s how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    ◦  Call us at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
    1. ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

The Board Trustees, management, and staff are proud to continue serving you, as we leverage all our technological and logistical resources to stay on top of our service commitment to you. We look forward to you calling us in the future or joining one of our new webinars. Until next time, stay safe and healthy!

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

5/6/2020 CEO Update: Remote Call Center and Member Participation in Board Meetings

Dear Members:

LACERA's response to the operational challenges resulting from the pandemic has been multifaceted. We have worked diligently with the Board Chairs, Vice Chairs, and all the Board Trustees to prepare for any unforeseen developments and mitigate their effects. In particular, we have worked in unison to ensure the benefits of our members are protected and the continuity of our services remained a priority even as we encountered one problem after another over the past two months. I know that many of you may be uncertain in these challenging times, rest assured that LACERA is wholly dedicated in our mission to serve you.

Remote Call Center

On March 20, LACERA's Executive Office made the difficult decision to close our Pasadena Call Center to protect the health and well-being of our retirees and staff. Although we did not anticipate such an event, our dedicated staff members, with the support of our Trustees, continued to provide service to you remotely through callbacks, voicemail, email, and the Secure Message Center on My LACERA.

Throughout the month of April, the Executive Office, Legal Office, Systems, Member Services, and Retiree Health Care Divisions worked together to identify a proven provider of a Remote Call Center that upholds the security of our members' information and deliver functionality to enhance the services we provide to you. A vendor was vetted, selected, and engaged in an agreement to provide services to LACERA. We developed a training program for staff members of both our Member Services and Retirement Healthcare and these teams have worked day and night to test this system and train our staff. I am pleased to announce that on Thursday, April 30th, we opened our Remote Call Center and improved our services.

My special thanks to all of our staff for making our COVID-19 response seamless and reliable, and I recognize the quick actions and persistence of all our Divisions and their leadership who helped to implement our new remote call center system. Many of our staff in our Call Centers, Member Services, and Retirement Healthcare worked tirelessly to learn the new system and provide uninterrupted service to our members. I am extremely proud of all our staff members who worked long hours and volunteered to test and train on our new system.

We look forward to directly answering your calls once again.

Virtual Board Meetings

Due to the uncertainty of when LACERA will be able to host large public meetings—such as Board meetings—the Board of Investments and Board of Retirement will meet virtually, with the opportunity for our members and the public to view and participate online or over the phone.

For links or a phone number to participate, visit LACERA's Archived Agenda Packages webpage and click on the date of the upcoming board meeting you wish to attend.

To provide a public comment, you may submit a request to speak or a written comment by emailing publiccomment@lacera.com. If you are requesting to speak, please include your contact information, agenda item, and meeting date in your request. Public comment requests must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the scheduled meeting. We look forward to you joining us and participating in future meetings. Your comments are always welcome and serve as an important vehicle in our drive and commitment to continuously improve the healthcare programs and retirement plans we administer on your behalf.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    1. ◦  Leave us a message at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and we will return your call, usually within 24 business hours.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing, or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and press 1 to leave a message.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.

I once again thank LACERA Board Trustees and staff members for their tireless service and dedication to our mission. It is due to their commitment and expertise that we are able to serve our retired members throughout this pandemic.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

4/29/20 CEO Update: LACERA-Administered Health Plan Providers' Response to Coronavirus, Investment Fund Performance, and Upcoming LACERA Board Elections

Dear Members:

The pandemic is a constantly evolving situation and we are working diligently to ensure that you have the information you need about your healthcare and how we are continuing our mission to serve our members. In addition, we're committed to providing consistency in our normal duties like our Board elections and investment strategies despite the uncertainty of the situation.

LACERA-Administered Health Plan Providers' Response

As everyone continues the fight against COVID-19, our health plan partners are committed to supporting our retirees and their eligible dependents while remaining compliant with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ”the Act”. The Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage (including grandfathered plans) to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and certain COVID-19 testing related items and services without cost sharing (deductibles, copayments and coinsurance), prior authorization, or other medical management requirements. A testing related visit may occur in a health care provider's office, an urgent care center, an emergency department or through a telehealth visit.

We are happy to inform you that all of our LACERA-administered health plan partners have confirmed their compliance to the Act. They are all waiving COVID-19 diagnostic testing and certain COVID-19 testing related items and services such as cost sharing (deductibles, copayments and coinsurance) and prior authorizations as required under the Act. Our LACERA website has been updated to include the various LACERA-administered group health plan contact info. In addition, included on our website is information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Social Security Administration (SSA) websites where members can obtain the most current information available.

To find out more about how your healthcare provider is fighting COVID-19, visit the LACERA Administered Healthcare Plans and COVID-19 section of lacera.com or contact your health plan directly using the contact phone number listed on your ID cards.

Fund Performance

Due to market volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, LACERA's Investment team is sharing updates and perspectives on our investment portfolio. We proactively manage the portfolio so current and future County employees and beneficiaries will continue to receive their benefit payments. In a continuing effort toward public transparency, as well as informing LACERA members and stakeholders, we are posting information from our Investments Division on lacera.com. This includes quarterly reports of the LACERA Pension and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Funds, monthly reports, and communication to members.

You can find more information about LACERA's fund by visting the Fund Performance section of lacera.com.

Upcoming Board Elections

In August, the County is holding LACERA trustee elections for general,active members and retired members, incorporating online and telephonic voting. The County will mail out more details about the election and voting options next month. For your reference, I have included a condensed version of the County's current election schedule below, but be sure to consult the detailed voting instructions that will be sent as described below for full details and confirmed dates.

Active General Members: The elections are for the Second Trustee seats on both the Board of Retirement and the Board of Investments. The current Board trustees' terms expire on December 31, 2020, with the newly elected trustees taking office on January 1, 2021.

Active general members will have two options for casting their votes: online and over the phone. No paper ballots will be sent out. General Members with valid County email addresses will be sent individualized login credentials to access the ballot. You are also strongly encouraged to update or provide your current email address to LACERA to receive voting reminders and additional information. Please log in to your My LACERA account to edit your profile.

Retired Members: The elections are for the Eighth Trustee of the Board of Investments and the Eighth Trustee and Alternate Retired Trustee of the Board of Retirement. The current Board trustees' terms will expire on December 31, 2020, with the newly elected trustees taking office on January 1, 2021.

Retired Members will be able to cast their votes either online or by telephone, with paper ballots available upon request. To ensure that you receive timely voting information from the County, log in to My LACERA right away to make sure your mailing address is current, and provide your email address to receive voting reminders and instructions for accessing the online and telephonic voting system.

Retired Members who wish to vote by paper ballot must submit a request to the Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors by calling (213) 974-1093 or emailing LACERA_ELECTION@bos.lacounty.gov between May 20 and June 18.

For general election information, call the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors at (213)-974-1093 or visit http://bos.lacounty.gov/Services/Conflict-of-Interest-Lobbyist/LACERA-Election.

LACERA Board Trustee Elections: Summer 2020 Schedule

May 12: Election notices mailed to retired members with election and candidate filing deadlines.

May 18: Election notices for active general members posted in County offices with election and candidate filing deadlines.

May 20: Election notice emailed to general members.

May 20: Candidate nomination packets available from Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

June 18: Candidate nomination petitions due.

August 3: Retiree paper ballots mailed (if requested). Members who do not have an email or have an invalid email will be mailed their login credentials with voting instructions.

August 5: Email voting instructions sent to general members and retirees with email addresses on file. Online and telephonic voting opens.

August 31: Close of online and telephonic voting; deadline for paper ballots.

September 9: Confirmation of election results by the Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors.

October 20: Board of Supervisors declare official election results.

Schedule subject to change. Please consult the detailed voting instructions that will be sent for finalized dates.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. ◦  Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and press 1 to leave a message.
      ◦  Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents using the Upload link.
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    1. ◦  Leave us a message at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and we will return your call, usually within 24 business hours.
      ◦  Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      ◦  Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      ◦  Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      ◦  Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060

We appreciate your continuing support of LACERA and my staff that are working hard to provide you with the member services you deserve and expect.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

4/22/2020 CEO Update on Operations and Services

Dear Members:

As we begin our second month under Safer at Home orders, thank you to everyone who is out there providing essential services as well as to those who are helping stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying put.

Sadly, in the last week we have lost members of the L.A. County family to this pandemic. On behalf of LACERA's boards and staff, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of these dedicated public servants.

Our public health officials announced this week that the virus is much more widespread in L.A. County than previously thought. Although it is fortunately less fatal than originally predicted, the number of L.A. County COVID-related deaths now surpass 600 and confirmed cases exceed 12,000, so social distancing recommendations remain in place for continued prevention and control.

Service Operations

In my April 8 update, I described our efforts to restore full operations after closing our Member Services and Call Centers to comply with the Safer at Home orders and social distancing guidelines. This week we introduced a new method of scheduling callback appointments with our members who leave us a message, which should increase our ability to connect successfully with members who call us. We have also made a lot of progress on opening our virtual Call Center and are in the process of training staff members on how to use the new system. We anticipate opening the virtual Call Center soon and will keep you posted on the date.

Transitioning from in-house to a remote working environment has been a huge undertaking, and our staff members have gone above and beyond to make it happen quickly and securely. Many of you have expressed your support as we continue to ramp up our remote capabilities and services. Thank you for your kind words. I have shared several of these messages with our entire staff so they know that their efforts are appreciated.

New: Co-Webinars With Empower Retirement

Empower Retirement, which manages the County's 401(k) and 457(b) plans, has invited LACERA to participate in several upcoming retirement counseling webinars, starting next Tuesday, April 28 and continuing through Thursday, May 28. Webinars will include presentations from Empower Retirement and LACERA's Member Services, and will allow for questions from members via a chat feature.

Each webinar has a maximum capacity of 500 attendees, so eight webinars are currently scheduled to meet anticipated demand. Based on the response, we will evaluate the need to perform additional seminars in the near future.

If you are interested in participating, watch your inbox. Empower will be sending a webinar invite to all County employees through the County's email system, with a sign-up link and instructions on how to attend. Once registered, you will receive a reminder the day before and an hour before the event.

Be sure to take advantage of this new avenue for planning your retirement and long-term financial security!

Important Reminders

In my March 20 letter to members, I recommended that you update your beneficiaries and also consider filing the LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney if you have enough service credit to retire. This document allows your designated attorney-in-fact to make LACERA-specific retirement benefit decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

If you haven't already, I also urge you to sign up for Direct Deposit. Since your money is deposited electronically, there are no checks that could be lost, delayed, or stolen, and it?s the safest way to guarantee your pension payment is delivered on time.

More information about the LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney and Direct Deposit are available on our special COVID-19 Resources page. We created this page to help you access important LACERA documents and notices, County alerts, and security, health, and safety resources. Be sure to check back regularly for the latest updates.

How to Contact Us

We are still here to answer your questions and provide assistance as part of our mission to produce, protect, and provide your promised benefits. Here's how to get in touch with us.

  • For retirement information and service:
    1. Leave us a message at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 we will return your call, usually within 24 business hours.
      Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA.
      Log in to My LACERA via lacera.com for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents using the Upload link.
      Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    Our Retiree Healthcare Division (RHC) can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and press 1 to leave a message.
      Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      Log in to My LACERA via lacera.com to send a secure email or to submit documents via the Upload link.

Thanks again for your understanding and patience as we work hard to get back to you as quickly as possible.

We all have more challenges ahead before this over, but step by step and day by day, we will get through this together. Until next time, take care and stay safe.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

4/15/2020 COVID-19 and the Safety of LACERA Benefits

Dear LACERA Members,

LA County employees are demonstrating tremendous professionalism and courage in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide safety, security, and essential services to communities throughout Los Angeles County. We want to assure you that your LACERA benefits also remain safe and secure, despite recent turmoil in financial markets.

Your retirement security is our core objective. LACERA and the dedicated, full-time team of professionals in our Investments Division maintain a stable, long-term strategy to uphold each component of LACERA’s mission statement: "To produce, protect, and provide the promised benefits" to members.

Promised Benefits: A Key Advantage of Your LACERA Membership Is a Defined Benefit That Is Not Determined by Market Movements

As a member of a "defined benefit" pension, such as LACERA, your benefits do not change based on financial market performance. LACERA benefits are generally determined by your length of service and a salary formula.

LACERA receives contributions from LA County and members, pooling them in a collective investment fund. LACERA is responsible for all investment decisions and must abide by a legal doctrine known as "fiduciary duty." Fiduciary duty requires LACERA to act in the exclusive interest of you as LACERA members. Consistent with that duty, we aim to maximize risk-adjusted returns in order to minimize County and employee contributions and to pay promised benefits to current and future members.

A defined benefit plan like LACERA is different from defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) and 457(b) programs. These programs enable participants to select investment strategies in individual investment accounts. Participants in these programs may benefit in rising markets as their account balances increase, but the value of defined contribution programs may also decrease during market downturns.

To Produce and Protect: LACERA Diversifies Investment Risks and Opportunities Over a Very Long Timeframe Through Strategic Asset Allocation

In order to pay defined benefits today, tomorrow, and into the future, LACERA seeks to produce sufficient returns while protecting our investments from market risks over a very long timeframe.

We balance risk and return by allocating investments across numerous investment strategies (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), industries, and geographies – otherwise known as strategic asset allocation. By diversifying our investments, we diversify the sources of expected returns and mitigate investment risks across market cycles, industry and geographic exposures, and minimize the impact of market turmoil.

LACERA categorizes investments into four functional asset classes based on the role we expect them to serve in a diversified, balanced portfolio. LACERA’s asset allocation is presented below.

Chart illustrating LACERA's Asset Allocation as of 3/31/2020

LACERA has taken numerous steps in recent years to further strengthen the fund’s financial stability in different market environments, including the recent market turmoil. For instance, LACERA reduced its investment in stocks from 48% of the portfolio in 2017 to 35% by early 2020, and started new investments, such as infrastructure, to further diversify the portfolio.

To Provide: LACERA Maintains a Strong Cash Balance to Pay Benefits Today and Into the Future

LACERA carefully manages liquidity to ensure it has adequate cash to pay member benefits. Currently, LACERA has about $1.5 billion in cash. Moreover, over 50% of LACERA’s $55 billion portfolio is in liquid, publicly traded instruments. These investments can be easily converted to cash within a short amount of time, if necessary. LACERA’s strong cash position means we do not need to sell investments and may be able to invest in strategies that are currently trading at a discount to further generate returns over the long-term.

LACERA remains focused on a disciplined, risk-aware approach to investing, rooted in our commitment to provide members the promised benefits. We continue to assess portfolio risks and opportunities so that whatever happens over the coming weeks and months, the necessary funds remain available for LACERA benefit payments. Detailed financial reports and periodic updates are available at www.lacera.com.

We wish you and your families good health. Please stay strong.

Best regards,

Jonathan Grabel signature

Jonathan Grabel
Chief Investment Officer

4/8/2020 CEO Update on Operations and Investments

Hello, members:

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy as we continue to ride out the COVID-19 crisis. For those of you out on the front lines, thank you again for all you are doing to help our communities. Your service is truly extraordinary and awe-inspiring.

Fortunately, as I write this, our staff members remain healthy and safe from any ill effects of the COVID-19 virus. The well-being of our members and the health and safety of our staff during this ordeal has been and will remain our primary focus moving forward.

During these uncertain and unprecedented times, we continue to evolve the organization to deal with this emergency. I want to bring you up to date on the status of LACERA’s operations and investments, which I know are topics of great concern to many of you.

Service Operations

Over the last several weeks, we have been working hard to restore full service after closing both our Member Service Center and call centers to comply with the Department of Public Heath (DPH) social distancing guidelines and the Safer at Home order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. This would have been a challenge anyway, but it has been particularly difficult in the middle of our annual March Madness retirement spike.

We've never had a teleworking program for a variety of reasons specific to how we run our organization, so we've had to act fast to develop and implement technological tools that allow staff to work remotely while maintaining data security. In the span of just a few weeks, our Systems team developed a secure work-at-home portal for our service units and legal team while our work units simultaneously developed new telework procedures and rules.

As you know, LACERA has only one location in Pasadena that houses its entire staff. This made meeting the social distancing standard of limiting groups to 10 individuals or less very difficult. When we closed the MSC, our staff quickly reached out to help as many members with pending business as they could, and rescheduled members with in-person appointments to phone counseling sessions. With our call center system limited to voicemails and electronic communication, staff called members back on their personal cellphones, answered emails and secure messages, and continued to process work and counsel retirees and active LACERA members.

Despite our compromised position to interact with members, I'm proud to report that all members who elected to retire by March 31 were processed. This is a testament to the dedication, flexibility, resourcefulness, and resilience of our staff, and I commend them all for a job well done.

As of last week, we have doubled our capacity to work and serve our members remotely, and we continue to expand and improve our capabilities. We will be introducing a new way for members to return our messages and connect with a Retirement Benefits Specialist on an appointment basis, and we are also developing and testing a virtual call center to restore our customer service abilities to near full-service functionality. This service is our major focus and is expected to be up and running by the end of this month.

We recognize this has been extremely hard on those of you who need to reach out to us for service, and we thank you for your patience and understanding. As we restore our services one by one, we will be sure to build them out in a robust manner that will make our future customer service operations more nimble, reliable, and secure during emergencies and under normal conditions.

Investments

I want to reassure everyone that LACERA is financially stable. As a long-term investor, we manage our investments to enable us to pay benefits today, tomorrow, and well into the future for both current and future Los Angeles County employees and retirees.

With such a long time horizon, LACERA recognizes that there will be periods of strong market returns, as well as times of market turmoil like the one the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted. LACERA prudently diversifies its investment portfolio to produce returns over long time frames to pay benefits, despite occasional market disruptions like we are currently experiencing. We also focus on maintaining sufficient cash balances at all times. Rest assured that your benefits remain safe and secure.

We Are Here for You

Through this public health and economic crisis, one thing remains constant about the LACERA team: our dedication to your financial well-being and our commitment to fulfilling our mission of producing, protecting, and providing the promised benefits to each one of our valued members.

Here's how to contact us:

  • For retirement information and service:
    1. Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and leave a message.
      Email us at welcome@lacera.com. If you need to submit documents related to your LACERA account, log in to My LACERA. If you are not already signed up, you will need to create an account. See the My LACERA link at lacera.com.
      Log in to My LACERA for self-service transactions, to send a secure email, or to submit documents via the Upload link. This is the most secure and efficient way for our staff to receive and process your important documents.
      Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      Mail correspondence to:
            LACERA
            P.O. Box 7060
            Pasadena, CA 91109-7060
  • For Retiree Healthcare information and service:
    As a reminder, our Retiree Healthcare Division can help you with questions about your benefits, eligibility, and enrolling, changing or canceling healthcare plans. For plan books, I.D. cards, claim forms, and questions about claims or billing, contact your healthcare plan carrier. The RHC section of lacera.com has carrier contact information.
    1. Call 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132 and press 1 to leave a message.
      Email us at healthcare@lacera.com.
      Fax documents to 626-564-6155.
      Log in to My LACERA to send a secure email or to submit documents via the Upload link. Again, this is the most secure and efficient way to transmit your applications, inquiries, and/or important documents to LACERA staff.

Please know that we will respond to your inquiries as quickly as possible. Thanks again for your understanding and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

As LACERA continues to be here for you, I will likewise keep you updated on any important developments as they occur. Take care out there.

With warm regards,

Santos H. Kreimann signature

Santos H. Kreimann
Chief Executive Officer

4/6/2020 LACERA COVID-19 Updates

Dear members: We understand that this is a time of great uncertainty. Please be assured that LACERA’s essential operations are continuing and your benefits will not be impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Your retiree healthcare benefits are not changing.

Check back regularly, as we will be providing updates as this situation evolves and have created a special resources section to help you access important information.

3/20/20: Call Centers Closed

In accordance with the Safer at Home order issued by L.A. County officials, LACERA’s Member Service and Retiree Healthcare Call Centers will be closed until further notice.

You can still contact us via email at welcome@lacera.com or the Secure Message Center on My LACERA, or you can leave a message at 800-786-6464. Please note response times may be delayed. You can also conduct self-service transactions through My LACERA.

If you are in the process of retiring and want to submit your signed retirement elections, you can upload them on My LACERA (recommended), fax them to 626-564-6155, or mail them to our address below. Please do not send your documents via email; we cannot accept attachments. We continue to process retirement elections and are doing everything we can to ensure that new retiree checks arrive within the timeframe promised.

3/20/20: Your Benefits Will Not Be Impacted

Your defined benefit pension plan and the value of your monthly benefit is not determined by swings in the stock markets. Despite the current turmoil, LACERA’s retirement fund is strong and well diversified, which will help us weather these financial storms.

From the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, LACERA management have been taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of its staff members while continuing to provide service to our members, survivors and beneficiaries. Those receiving monthly benefits will continue to be paid each month and will not be impacted.

Notice of LACERA Actions Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dear members:

Protecting the health of our members and employees and maintaining uninterrupted operations are LACERA’s top priorities during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus is a serious health threat. Consistent with the advice of public health officials, LACERA recommends the following:

  • Any member exhibiting symptoms such as those listed below should remain at home and take appropriate action to recover your health:
    1. ◦Fever
      ◦Coughing
      ◦Difficulty breathing
      ◦Severe illness
  • Any member who may be at a higher risk of infection by a respiratory virus—such as the elderly (age 65 or older), people with underlying health conditions (including those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and compromised immune systems), and pregnant women—are asked to refrain from coming to our offices.

Please be advised that as of Monday, March 16, we will be closing our Member Service Center until further notice. Our Call Center employees are available at 800-786-6464 to assist you with most matters.

  1. If you have a previously scheduled appointment, we will honor that appointment by contacting you to set up a telephone counseling session.
  2. Members can also continue to schedule appointments via our online system to set up one-on-one telephone counseling sessions in place of in-person visits.
  3. You are still able to submit necessary forms and documents to LACERA without visiting the Member Service Center. We ask that you please review each document's submission requirement. Many documents can be uploaded via My LACERA, while others require the submission of the original copy. To submit an original copy, please mail it to PO Box 7060 Pasadena, CA 91109-7060.

To protect the health of our members and employees, LACERA has already taken the following precautions:

  • Employees who may be ill have been instructed to remain at home.
  • Employees interacting with the public have been asked to avoid shaking hands, use gloves for handling documents, and sanitize their work area after each visit.
  • Masks are available for any member or employee to use, based on their preference.
  • We have increased the cleaning regimen for our offices.
  • We have canceled outreach events until further notice.
  • We have restricted all unnecessary travel.

We will keep you updated as we continue adjusting our service operations during this time, and appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

LACERA Appoints Santos H. Kreimann as CEO

On November 6, LACERA announced the appointment of Santos H. Kreimann as Chief Executive Officer, effective November 16. Kreimann brings to LACERA almost 30 years of public service in positions of responsibility with the County of Los Angeles. Most recently, Kreimann served as the County's Chief Deputy Assessor, overseeing an assessment roll totaling over $1.6 trillion, 1,400 employees, and a customer service operation processing hundreds of thousands of mail, phone, and counter enrollments and inquiries. He has broad experience in budgeting, financial management and controls, strategic planning, customer service, IT systems, and organizational operations. Those skills will serve LACERA and our members effectively in building for the future.

In addition to his position with the Assessor's Office, Kreimann previously served Los Angeles County as Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Operations and Capital Projects and Director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors, as well as in positions of responsibility in the Chief Administrative Office, Department of Health Services, and Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector.

"Santos will be a dynamic and forward-looking leader for LACERA. He understands and cares about our members and our staff, having spent his entire career serving Los Angeles County and its residents," said Alan Bernstein, Chair of LACERA's Board of Retirement. "The Boards conducted an extensive national search. The final candidates went through a rigorous selection process. The Boards were unanimous in selecting Santos Kreimann as LACERA's Chief Executive Officer."

"Santos has a history of excellence in serving the residents and employees of Los Angeles County, which he will now bring to LACERA for the benefit of our members," added Shawn Kehoe, Chair of the Board of Investments. "His high-level executive leadership and expertise in budgeting, customer service, and operations for the County of Los Angeles are directly applicable to the needs of LACERA."

"As a 30-year member of LACERA, I understand firsthand the importance of safeguarding the assets of the fund and maintaining the high quality customer service that our members have grown to expect," said Kreimann. "I am committed to working tirelessly to deliver on LACERA's Mission to produce, protect and provide the promised benefits to our more than 174,000 active and retired members. I will apply my full energy to serving our members and leading the dedicated people of LACERA."

Steven P. Rice, who performed the duties and responsibilities of LACERA's Chief Executive Officer during the past five months, will return to his work as the organization's Chief Counsel.

Education and Travel Policy Update

Education is a necessary component for the ability of LACERA's Boards to fulfill their fiduciary duty to effectively administer and invest the over $56 billion global fund for the benefit of our more than 165,000 members. Trustees are legally required to educate themselves on topics relevant to today's complex public pension environment, including benefits, healthcare, investments, governance, and plan administration. Trustees also travel to connect with state and federal legislators and regulators to advocate on behalf of member interests and to serve in leadership positions in state-wide and national pension organizations. LACERA has a formal Board-approved Education and Travel Policy that sets program guidelines.

As part of the organization's dedication to continued improvement, LACERA has longstanding processes in place to regularly review the education policy and to audit the cost and terms of the policy and the education program. This year, the policy is being updated and, as part of a normal review which began in October 2018, the costs and operations of the program have been audited.

At its July 26, 2019 meeting, the Boards' Joint Organizational Governance Committee (JOGC) voted unanimously to recommend policy revisions to the full Boards for approval at their August meetings. The JOGC recommended targeted changes intended to enhance the program's administrative efficiency and cost-effectiveness, without compromising the trustees' ability to receive their needed education.

The JOGC will meet again on August 14, 2019 to consider additional policy updates.

Updated Information on the LACERA CEO Transition

Dear Members:

Effective June 7, 2019, LACERA’s governing Board of Retirement and Board of lnvestments terminated Lou Lazatin as Chief Executive Officer. While this is a confidential personnel matter about which the organization cannot comment in detail, LACERA’s Boards and staff understand that members care deeply about LACERA and would like additional information. In this spirit, we provide the following background.

The Board of Retirement and Board of Investments each have nine members: four members appointed by the County Board of Supervisors; four members elected by general, safety, and retired County employees; and the County Treasurer and Tax Collector sitting ex officio. The Boards bring a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to all of their decisions, including their action as to Ms. Lazatin.

The Boards and a joint board committee conducted a performance evaluation of Ms. Lazatin in closed session over the course of several meetings spanning four months from February to May 2019, as permitted under California law. Each closed session was duly posted on a public agenda. While LACERA legally cannot comment on the closed session discussions, the Boards decided through the performance evaluation process and lengthy deliberations to dismiss Ms. Lazatin from her position. Ms. Lazatin was an at-will employee under a public written contract. The Boards’ final decision was publicly reported, including the vote of each member. The vote was nearly unanimous, showing a strong consensus among the different groups represented on the Boards. On the Board of Retirement, the vote was 8-1, with all members being present, and on the Board of Investments, the vote was 6-0, with three members absent. The Boards acted properly within the exercise of their fiduciary duty to manage the fund in the best interest of active employees and retirees.

LACERA is a well-run and well-funded pension fund of over $56 billion that pays over $3 billion in benefits each year. The organization is healthy and strong. The fund is managed to ensure its ability to honor benefit commitments into the future and provide outstanding service to its more than 165,000 members. LACERA’s 80.6% funded ratio far exceeds that of most state and local pension funds.

LACERA can assure all LACERA members that the state of LACERA and its over $56 billion fund is sound and that members’ benefits are secure. Our Mission is to produce, protect, and provide the promised pension and retiree healthcare benefits to the many thousands of active and retired employees of the County and participating agencies. LACERA’s Boards and our 430 dedicated employees live the Mission every day and, in doing so, we honor the public service of those who take care of the people of Los Angeles County by making sure we can provide them with a secure and dignified retirement.

LACERA’s Mission is a long-term proposition to provide benefits for generations of County employees, past, present, and future. LACERA’s sound funding and the organization’s passion for member service mean that our members, our plan sponsors, and the public can be secure that the pension promise will continue to be met, just as it has for the past 80 years of our existence.

LACERA will conduct a national recruitment for a new CEO. Details about that process will be available in the near future. In the meantime, the Boards directed that Steven P. Rice, LACERA’s Chief Counsel, assume the duties and responsibilities of Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Rice has many years of California public pension experience and will provide steady leadership for the organization during the search.

Update on the CEO Recruitment, July 9, 2019: The Boards have now started the recruitment process for a new CEO to lead LACERA. The new CEO will be selected by a vote of all members of the Board of Retirement and the Board of Investments. To assist in the selection process, the Board Chairs appointed an ad hoc search committee, following the approach also used in past years. The committee members represent a diverse cross section of the Boards: Alan Bernstein, Gina Zapanta-Murphy, and Les Robbins from the Board of Retirement, and Shawn Kehoe, Wayne Moore, and David Muir from the Board of Investments. Once the committee narrows the field of qualified candidates, all members of the Boards will participate in a thorough interview and evaluation process with all finalists for the position before voting on their final selection.

Watch this space for additional updates as the process moves forward.

Congresswoman Judy Chu Visits LACERA

On Wednesday, July 3, U.S. Representative Judy Chu visited LACERA during a special joint Board meeting. A longtime supporter of many of our issues, Chu represents the 27th District, a highly diverse stretch of San Gabriel Valley communities that is home to LACERA’s headquarters and many of its members and staff.

After thanking LACERA for its advocacy in Washington, D.C., Chu detailed her efforts on retirement and benefits legislation as a member of Congress and the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare, among other federal government programs.

Chu gave an update on HR 141, the current version of the Social Security Fairness Act, which would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO). The WEP and GPO penalize those who have worked in public service by reducing their Social Security benefits. The legislation was reintroduced in the House this year, and is currently with the Subcommittee on Social Security. With Democrats controlling the House agenda and ongoing bipartisan support for the bill, Chu expressed optimism that this time it may be passed.

Chu and the Board members discussed the Affordable Care Act excise tax, which would invoke a 40 percent tax on insurance plans on the amount above a specific threshold. With bipartisan support, the excise tax is currently on hold and will hopefully be eliminated, Chu said.

Another strongly bipartisan bill, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, easily passed the House in May, Chu reported. Expressing her concern that 55 million Americans working in the private sector have no retirement savings at all, the act would incentivize businesses to set up 401(k) programs, among other provisions. Chu said she is hopeful that the bill will be passed soon and signed into law.

Regarding healthcare, Chu is a supporter of early Medicare buy-in for first responders and overall Medicare expansion through lowering the age for eligibility and bringing back the public option. She stated that prescription drug prices need to drop down to the levels seen in other countries, and advised that another bipartisan bill to increase transparency in drug pricing had also recently passed out of the Ways and Means Committee.

She and the Board members discussed numerous other issues, including Chu’s visit to migrant detention facilities on the nation’s border on July 1 as part of a 15-member Democratic delegation. Chu described the conditions as alarming, unsanitary, and crowded, stating that minimum standards should be required for such facilities and reporting that there would be a hearing with the head of Homeland Security the following week. She also addressed the upcoming census and potential loss of $2,000 in federal funding for every person not counted in California; gerrymandering and voting rights; and the problem of college costs and student debt, which is tied into greater societal costs.

At the end of the meeting, Chu thanked the Boards for their wide-ranging questions. “It shows that you are concerned with all Americans: immigrants, workers, and students, and what we all need to succeed and have hope for the future,” she said.

Board of Retirement Schedule Changes

On Wednesday, July 3, the Board of Retirement approved beginning in August, 2019, permanent changes to its meeting schedule. The BOR will now convene its Administrative meeting and Operations and Oversight Committee on the first Wednesday of the month. This first date for these meetings will occur on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. In addition, the Disability meeting and Disability Procedures and Services Committee will now convene on the Thursday following the second Wednesday of the month. The first date for these meeting will be Thursday, August 15, 2019. The Insurance, Benefits and Legislative Committee will meet following the Disability meetings. The Board of Retirement Meeting Schedule has been updated to reflect these changes.

Social Security Eligible Members: Help Repeal the WEP and GPO

If you receive a retirement allowance from LACERA and are also eligible for Social Security benefits, you may be subject to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), enacted by Congress in 1983 and 1977, respectively.

Take Action

To get in touch with your member of Congress regarding repeal of the WEP/GPO, visit the following links:

Communications toolkits with talking points, information sheets, sample letters, and more are available from organizations with members affected by the WEP and GPO:

The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit for workers who receive a government pension from employment that is not covered by Social Security, while the GPO applies to Social Security dependent benefits that you may receive as a spouse, widow, or widower while you are also receiving a government pension.

On April 11, 2019, the Board of Retirement adopted a “Support” position on the Social Security Fairness Act, with House and Senate versions of the legislation introduced to repeal the WEP and GPO: H.R. 141 by Representative Rodney Davis (Ill.) and S. 521 by Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio).

To urge your congressional representatives to support these bills, see the Take Action box to access contact information for your representative as well as communications toolkits to help you make your case.

Protecting You From Fraud: We Take It Seriously

Fraud. It’s a small word that represents a big headache for millions of people annually, and it has serious implications for your financial security. Already rampant, fraud is a growing problem: In 2018, reported fraud losses to the Federal Trade Commission increased by $406 million to total $1.48 billion. (Note the word reported in that statistic. Actual losses are likely much higher, as many cases go unreported.) Meanwhile, every advance in technology provides a new way for enterprising thieves to scam unwitting victims.

As part of our mission of protecting your benefits, LACERA is intent on safeguarding your personal information and accounts through comprehensive security measures. Here’s how we do it.

Ongoing Alerts and Fraud Prevention Resources

First, LACERA helps you be on your guard against current, ongoing scams by posting alerts on our website and in our newsletters. Check out our Fraud Alerts page for public service announcements and tips from L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, or look in issues of PostScript and Spotlight.

In addition, there are plentiful local, state, and federal resources to help protect consumers. Check out the following agencies to sign up for alerts, file a complaint, get links to free credit reports, report identity theft, and more.

Internal and External Controls

Behind the scenes, LACERA is also vigilant about keeping your information secure. To protect member information, LACERA’s system security is constantly monitored and engineered with facilities to detect and prevent unauthorized intrusions. My LACERA has enhanced security features to protect members’ identity.

Internal security starts with preventing unauthorized access to LACERA’s offices and computers. Additionally, employees are trained to follow our policies and procedures on handling sensitive and confidential information. These internal and external controls dovetail with regular audits to flag any areas for improvement.

Specialized Teams

Investigative and response teams are also at the ready if problems arise.

LACERA has an internal team dedicated to detecting fraud, anomalies, and irregular activity on member accounts using a variety of factors.

In keeping with industry best practices, LACERA also has a standing team of executive officers and top-level managers that mobilizes to quickly and decisively deal with threats to business operations, which could range from a disaster to a security incident. After any incident, the group institutes lessons learned and appropriate steps to be taken to prevent or minimize impacts from any similar events in the future.

CIO Jonathan Grabel Receives Industry Innovation Award

On December 13, LACERA Chief Investment Officer Jonathan Grabel was honored at the 9th Annual Chief Investment Officer Industry Innovation Awards gala in New York City as the winner of the 2018 Industry Innovation Award in the category Public Defined Benefit Plan Between $15 Billion and $100 Billion. He was selected from a group of distinguished finalists from pension plans across the U.S.

The annual awards ceremony is hosted by the publication and communications firm Chief Investment Officer to “highlight the truly innovative approaches to asset management and asset owning, separating the merely different from the meaningful,” with the goal of changing the way people think about the investment business. Winners are chosen by the CIO editorial team in conjunction with CIOs from some of the country’s most influential companies and organizations.

Grabel’s strategic approach to investing for LACERA over the long-term is featured in this article on the CIO website.

Congratulations and well done, Jon!

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