Reciprocity is a special relationship that exists between LACERA and certain public retirement systems located in California to encourage career-long public service. Reciprocal systems protect employees’ earned retirement benefits when those employees transfer between participating agencies within a specified time.
See a list of Reciprocal Systems that LACERA has agreements with.
You are eligible for reciprocal benefits if you terminate your County service and leave your retirement contributions, if any, on deposit with LACERA. Your employment at one public agency must terminate before employment at the next public agency begins. Overlapping service, even service due to vacation or sick time, may cause disqualification for reciprocity. Within six months, you must become employed by another public agency covered by a reciprocal retirement system within California. Once established, reciprocity cannot be revoked.
Contact us for more information or to request a Reciprocity package. Be sure to keep your contact information updated with LACERA when you leave County service, so we can inform you about important retirement matters and available benefits. You can contact us or log in to My LACERA to make updates.
Benefits of Reciprocity
Depending on your individual circumstances and membership date with LACERA or a reciprocal system, the following benefits could apply:
- Your contribution rate in the new system could be based on your age when you joined the first system. This could be advantageous since generally—unless you are in a PEPRA plan with a flat rate—the younger you are when you join a contributory retirement plan, the lower your monthly contribution rate is.
- Your years of service earned under each system can be added together to meet vesting requirements and the minimum years of service credit needed for retirement.
- When calculating your retirement allowance, each system can use your highest final compensation, regardless of under which system it was earned.
- You could be considered a pre-PEPRA member even if your LACERA membership date is on or after January 1, 2013 and:
- You established reciprocity based on membership in a reciprocal system prior to 2013.
- You are a former LACERA member who terminated membership and withdrew your contributions prior to 2013 and later returned to County service and redeposited your contributions.
If you are a reciprocal member, it might not be advantageous for you to apply for disability retirement. See more under Disability Benefits and Reciprocity.
You must leave your contributions and interest on deposit with LACERA while your employment is covered by a reciprocal retirement system. Under reciprocity, you must apply for retirement from each system separately and retire from each system concurrently (on the same day).
Each system will provide you with a separate benefit payment, based on your age and years of service credit in that system.
Age Considerations for Retirement
If you reach age 72 and are no longer working, you must begin receiving required minimum distributions from your plan, even if you haven’t filed for retirement.
Keep in mind that your plan has a maximum benefit age, and postponing your retirement after that age will not increase your benefit. If you are a reciprocal member, check all your systems’ plans for the maximum benefit age (LACERA’s charts are available in your online plan book under Calculating Your Retirement Allowance).
See the Maximum Benefit Returns page for more details.