SECTION 1: General
1. Q: What does vesting mean?
A: "Vesting" is a term used
to explain the amount of years of service credit required for a member to
receive a retirement allowance. Once vested you
are entitled to receive a retirement benefit when you meet LACERA's minimum
age and service credit requirements. Vesting also entitles you to terminate
County employment and defer receiving your retirement allowance until
you are eligible and ready to apply for retirement.
Vesting requirements vary per plan. In Plan A, B,
C, or D vesting occurs when you have earned 5 years of County service credit.
You are vested in Plan E when you have earned 10 years of County service
credit. Reciprocal service credit also counts toward vesting. (7-25-06)
Click here for more vesting information
What is reciprocity?
A: LACERA maintains a special relationship with certain other California
public retirement systems. This relationship, known as reciprocity,
was established by statute to encourage career public service and to protect
retirement benefits earned by employees under two or more systems. Under
reciprocity, your years of service earned under the reciprocal system will
count toward meeting LACERA’s service credit requirements for vesting
If you elect Plan D,
your contribution rate will be based on your age when you joined the reciprocal
Your retirement allowance
from both LACERA and the reciprocal system will be based on your higher
final compensation, regardless of whether you earned that compensation
as a member of LACERA or the reciprocal system. (6-27-06)
I don’t know if my last job is reciprocal with LACERA. How do
I find out?
A: First check our list of reciprocal retirement
systems. If you do not know which retirement system is associated
with that job, contact LACERA with the name of your previous employer (public
agency or district, city or town, county, school district, superintendent
of schools office, etc.), and we can determine the corresponding retirement
system. If the system is reciprocal, we will take the next step, to inquire
about your individual retirement records and determine your eligibility for
Can I withdraw my retirement contributions from LACERA while I'm in
A: No, federal law prohibits members from withdrawing any contributions
from the retirement fund. The only way to withdraw contributions is if you
terminate County service. (7-26-06)
Can I borrow money from my LACERA retirement plan?
A: No. Your LACERA retirement plan is a defined benefit plan which
stipulates that funds are not available to members during active service. (5-27-08)
Will my monthly retirement allowance run out when I've received the
total amount I contributed to my LACERA retirement plan?
A: No, your LACERA plan is a defined benefit plan. “Defined
Benefit” means that your benefit is a guaranteed monthly allowance
paid for the rest of your life . Your benefit is based on your final
average salary, retirement age, and years of service. (6-26-06)
7. Q: I
have dual retirement accounts as a General Member and a Safety Member.
How will this affect my retirement allowance?
who have dual service credit as both a general and safety member in LACERA
will receive a combined retirement allowance after retirement. The benefits
for each type of service will be added together to determine the total retirement
members who have five or more years of service as a safety member may convert
their previous general member service to safety member service. You may
convert up to a maximum of five years of previous general service. If you
elect to convert only part of your general member service, you must convert
the most recent period of that service first and any remaining service
will continue to be credited as general member service.
you call LACERA at 800-786-6464 and speak with a Retirement Benefits
Specialist for details regarding your individual situation. (6-10-08)
8. Q: If
I am drafted during a time of war, will I continue to receive retirement
service credit while I'm deployed?
a member is absent from service because of being drafted (involuntarily)
during a time of war, the period of absence may be credited to the member
at no cost.
If a member is absent from County service without
pay because he/she volunteered for the military services, he/she is eligible
to pay normal retirement contributions for the period of absence and receive
credit for the time. The member must return to employment within 90 days
of the discharge date.
you are eligible to receive retirement service credit at no cost or pay
retirement contributions and receive credit for this time also depends
on other factors such as when you began County service and your
retirement plan. We recommend you call LACERA at 800-786-6464
and speak with a Retirement Benefits Specialist for details regarding
your individual situation. You can also email your questions about benefits
or retirement plans to LACERA at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your questions
to: LACERA, P.O. Box 7060, Pasadena, CA, 91109-7060. (6-16-08)
9. Q: How
does LACERA handle divorces for active members?
A: If your marriage is dissolved, the Court may order a division
or split of your monthly retirement allowance between you and your ex-spouse.
Upon retirement, LACERA will send separate checks to you and your ex-spouse
in accordance with the portions ordered in the Judgment of Dissolution. (7-14-08)
10. Q: I
am getting divorced. How will this affect my retirement benefits?
A: If the Court determines that your LACERA benefits are community
property, a court order will direct the division of your LACERA benefits.
Please contact LACERA as soon as possible to notify us of the divorce so
that we can update your records. When the dissolution is final, LACERA will
require a conformed copy (with the court clerk's filing date stamp and the
judge's signature) of all the pages of your Judgment of Dissolution and,
if applicable, a copy of the Domestic Relations Order (DRO). Our Legal Division
will review the documents to ensure that they conform to LACERA's plan.
LACERA and submit these documents immediately to prevent any delay in your
retirement benefit payments. If you are in the process of a divorce at
the time of retirement, LACERA cannot pay your retirement allowance until
the judgment is final and the court order directing the division of your
LACERA benefits is received. (3-29-07)
I just got divorced. What paperwork must I provide to LACERA?
A: You must provide LACERA with a conformed copy (with the
court clerk's filing date stamp and the judge's signature) of all the pages
of your Judgment of Dissolution.
If the judgment
states a further order is required, provide LACERA copies of a Domestic
Relations Order (DRO) or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). If
you are unsure about the need for additional documents, LACERA's Legal
Division will review the judgment to ascertain if an additional order is
I'm about to retire and I'm in the midst of a divorce. Will this affect
LACERA sending my monthly retirement allowance when I'm retired?
A: Yes. If you are in the process of a divorce at the time
of retirement, LACERA cannot pay your retirement allowance until the Judgment
of Dissolution of Marriage is final and a court order directing the community
property division of your LACERA benefits is received. (2-6-07)
What is a Registered Domestic Partner?
A: A domestic partnership is established when persons meeting
the criteria specified by Family Code section 297 file a Declaration of Domestic
Partnership with the Secretary of State.
with a resolution adopted by the Board of Supervisors, a person who meets
certain qualifications as a domestic partner is eligible for the same survivor
benefits as a spouse. The qualifications include:
- The partnership
is registered with the Secretary of State.
- Both persons
have a common residence.
person is married or a member of another domestic partnership that has
not been terminated.
- Both persons
are at least 18 years of age.
of the following:
persons are members of the same sex.
of the opposite sex, one or both of the persons are over the age
- Both persons
are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership. (6-09-08)
Why do some LACERA forms list “spouse” or “domestic
partner,” while other forms don't?
A: Although we continue to update our forms to include “spouse” or “domestic
partner,” it is possible some older forms may still show “spouse” or “other.” If
you have a question regarding a LACERA form, call 800-786-6464 to speak
with a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist. Keep in mind, domestic
partners must be registered with the California Secretary of State
and meet certain other eligibility rules. (1-3-07)
How do I apply for disability retirement through LACERA?
A: Members in Plans A, B, C, & D may apply for two types
of disability retirement.
1) Service-connected - Disability resulting from or caused
by an illness or injury
related to your employment.
2) Nonservice-connected - Disability resulting from or caused
by an illness or injury not related to your employment.
You may apply
for service-connected disability retirement at any age regardless of the
amount of service credit you have earned. You may apply for non-service connected
disability retirement at any age, but you must have five years of County
retirement service credit.
You are not
eligible for a disability retirement if you are in Plan E or
if you have withdrawn your retirement contributions. However, general members
in Plans A, B, C, D, & E may apply for disability benefits under the
County´s Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefit Plan.
fill out an application:
- While you
are still employed, or
four months after you have terminated employment, or
- Any time
after terminating employment, provided you can prove
- you are physically or mentally unable to perform your regular job duties, and that condition has been continuous from the date of separation
- a delay in filing your
application has not impaired LACERA’s ability to investigate your case
I have been granted a Disability Retirement by the Board of Retirement.
Can I exhaust my vacation/sick time before my retirement allowances
A: You may use any remaining sick time and 4850 benefits,
but not vacation time. Payment in full for any remaining holiday or vacation
time will be included in your termination pay. Coordinate with LACERA and
your department’s payroll office to make sure your County sick time
and 4850 benefits are exhausted before your LACERA allowance begins. (8-7-06)
Does LACERA have retirement calculators on the web site?
A: Yes, we do.
are a great help in making retirement decisions. (Note: The LACERA calculators
only provide an estimate. For an actual cost contact LACERA.)
Who can register for My LACERA?
A: Only active and retired
members can register. Currently, access for deferred members and spouses
is not available. You can access the My LACERA icon from lacera.com to register. If
you are an active member, you can create your preliminary Retirement Benefit
Estimate on My LACERA. The Retirement Benefit Estimate feature will
provide a personalized estimate (based on your actual data) of the benefits
you will receive when you retire. You can also read more about this feature
at About My LACERA. (6-11-08)
How much money will I receive when I retire?
can find out how much money you will
receive by creating your own preliminary
Retirement Benefit Estimate online
at My LACERA. Once you register on
My LACERA, the Retirement Benefit
Estimate feature will provide a personalized
estimate of the benefits you will
receive when you retire. Look for
LACERA icon on lacera.com.
You can also read more about this
feature at About
My LACERA. You may also
request an official retirement estimate
by calling us at 800-786-6464. (6-23-08)
20. Q: How
can I get a Retirement Benefit Estimate?
A: You can create your own preliminary Retirement Benefit Estimate
online at My
LACERA. Once you register on My LACERA, the Retirement Benefit
Estimate feature will provide a personalized estimate of the benefits you
will receive when you retire. You can access the My LACERA icon from lacera.com
or on the left side bar of each web page. You can also read more about this
feature at About My LACERA. You
can call LACERA and request a Retirement Benefit Estimate at 800-786-6464. (6-04-08)
When will I get my annual benefits statement?
statements are prepared on the 15th of the month following your birthday
month. After your yearly benefits have been calculated, it normally takes
about 2-3 weeks for the statement to be printed and mailed. So those born
in June should expect to receive their statements around the end of July
or early August. Those born in July should get their statements around the
end of August or early September, etc.
you register on My
LACERA, you can review your Annual Benefit Statement online
at any time. Look for the My LACERA icon throughout lacera.com to register. (5-12-08)
22. Q: Can
I change plans?
A: If you are a Plan D or Plan E member, yes, you may change plans.
This change is called a plan transfer. You may transfer Plan E to Plan D with a prospective transfer.
We suggest you review the FAQs and try the Transfer
Calculator to estimate your cost. Then, if you have any questions, or you are ready to request
your transfer, call us at 800-786-6464.
from Plan D to Plan E is a prospective transfer. The change
is effective immediately, and retirement contributions will no longer be
deducted from your paycheck. Be aware that you will not be eligible for
any active member death or disability benefits from LACERA.
If you transfer plans, you cannot
transfer back for three years.
I am considering a transfer from Plan E to Plan D and buying my years
of County service. How can I pay for it?
A: LACERA now accepts payments from a variety of sources. You may
pay for any type of plan transfer, redeposit, conversion, or service credit
purchase with funds from any of the following sources:
from your LA County 401(k) Savings Plan or Horizons 457 Plan, even while
you are still employed (before-tax dollars only)
from a 401(k), 403(b), 457, or other plan sponsored by a previous employer
(before-tax dollars only)
from your Traditional IRA, not ROTH IRAs (before-tax dollars only)
check, which may be money from your checking or savings account, cash
from home equity, etc. (after-tax dollars)
deductions (before-tax or after-tax dollars) (3-29-07)
How can I find out about job opportunities with LACERA?
A: We have a special section on lacera.com entitled LACERA
Career Opportunities where we list jobs that are open to everyone.
You can access this section from the lacera.com home page, Career
Opportunities or from the Opportunities tab. (7-10-09)
How can I obtain a job application for a job opening at LACERA?
A: Go to the LACERA
Career Opportunities Section on lacera.com. You may apply online
for any open position by clicking on the job title you are interested in
and clicking on the “Apply” button on the job announcement. This application
can be saved and used to apply for additional or future job openings. You
must have access to email to apply online. If you do not want to apply online,
you can access the Job Application in PDF format on the LACERA Career Opportunities
Section web page.
If you are interested in a job that is not currently
open, you can submit a Job Interest Card by clicking on
the Job Descriptions link. Locate the job you want, click
on the job title, then click on the "Email me when this position opens" link. (7-10-09)
have service in Plan E and Plan D. How does that affect my retirement?
A: When you retire, you will have service credit in both
plans (double accounts), so your retirement benefit will be a combined allowance.
First, your retirement allowance under each plan will be calculated separately,
based on the service credit you earned under that plan. Then, the two amounts
will be added together to determine your total monthly allowance.
You may retire
from each plan when you meet the minimum retirement age (age 50 for Plan
D; age 55 for Plan E) and service credit requirements. If you retire from
Plan D and you are under 55, your Plan E retirement benefits automatically become
effective on the date of your 55th birthday. LACERA will send you a letter
one month before your 55th birthday to notify you regarding the effective
date of your Plan E retirement benefit payments. (10-24-08)
What is a monthly retirement allowance?
A: Your monthly retirement
allowance is the monthly retirement benefit (monthly amount of money) you
will receive after you retire. The amount of your retirement allowance is
based on three factors:
- Age at Retirement
- Years of Service (Service Credit)
- Final Compensation (9-11-08)
How can I find out how much service credit I have?
can visit My
LACERA to find out how much service credit you have. My
LACERA is a web feature that provides you with secure 24-hour access
to your personal retirement benefit information including your retirement
plan and contribution rate, the total amount of your contributions, annual
benefit statement, and recap of your recent LACERA interactions. You can
also call LACERA at 800-786-6464 and speak with a Retirement Benefits Specialist
to find out how much service credit you have. (10-24-08)
What is the Transfer Calculator?
Calculator is a web feature that will give you an estimate of
the cost associated with a plan transfer. You can use the calculator to project:
- Your monthly
Plan D contribution rate if you transfer prospectively from Plan E to
- The Cost
to purchase and convert some or all of your Plan E service credit for
a Prospective Transfer.
to the top)
SECTION 2: Survivor Benefits
If I die while I am an active County employee, will my retirement benefits
go to my spouse and surviving children?
active members in Plans A, B, C, and D who die while in County service, death
benefits in the form of a lump sum or continuing monthly allowance may be
payable depending on your length of service and whether the death was service-
minor child may be eligible for benefits if the member does not have an
eligible surviving spouse.
E - LACERA does not provide death benefits
for active members in Plan E.
For details see Pre-Retirement
Death Benefits or contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 and speak with
a Retirement Benefits Specialist to discuss your individual situation. (6-11-08) `
2. Q: I
am the surviving spouse of an active member who died while in County
service. Am I entitled to any survivor benefits?
If a member
of a LACERA contributory plan (A, B, C, or D) dies prior to retirement, death
benefits are determined based on:
status: active or deferred
of death (service-connected or nonservice-connected)
of recipient to member (eligible survivor or named beneficiary)
qualify as an eligible survivor in cases involving the death of an active
member, a spouse or domestic partner must have been married to or in a
duly registered domestic partnership with the member prior to
the member's death. No minimum length of marriage or domestic partnership
If the death
is nonservice-connected and the Plan A, B, C, or D member is vested with
five years of County employment, survivor benefits are payable. There are
no minimum years of service required to receive the lump-sum death benefit. (7-21-09)
3. Q: If
I am not married and don't have any children, who can I designate as
my beneficiary when I retire?
A: You may name anyone you wish to receive the $5,000 death benefit,
and you may change that beneficiary designation at any time, even after you
retire. If you wish to leave a monthly allowance to someone other than a
spouse, domestic partner, or minor child, you may elect Retirement Option
2, 3, or 4. These options pay you a reduced allowance during your retirement
years. Then, after your death, your beneficiary would receive a monthly allowance
for the rest of his or her life. If you would like to discuss your individual
circumstances, our Retirement Benefits Specialists can assist you. Call 800-786-6464
or visit our office in Pasadena for a one-on-one consultation. (3-29-07)
How long do I have to be married before my spouse becomes eligible
for survivor benefits on my LACERA retirement plan?
A: A surviving spouse is eligible for survivor
benefits if he or she married the member at least one year prior to the member’s
date of retirement. As of August 26, 2003, a domestic partner is
eligible for survivor benefits if he or she registered as a domestic partner
at least one year prior to the member’s date of retirement. (1-3-07)
Does Plan E provide survivor benefits?
A: There are no LACERA pre-retirement continuing
survivor benefits under Plan E; however, Plan E members are covered by the
County's Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefits Plan. All LACERA
retirement plans, including Plan E, provide a $5,000 post-retirement lump-sum
death benefit. LACERA also provides post-retirement continuing Plan
E survivor benefits, which vary according to the retirement option selected.
For additional information, refer to your Plan E Summary Plan brochure. (1-3-07)
After I retire, can I provide my beneficiary 100% of my retirement
A: If you select the Unmodified+Plus option
when you retire, you can provide your eligible spouse, domestic partner,
or beneficiary a customized percentage of your reduced retirement allowance.
If you are in Plan A, B, C, or D, you can provide your eligible beneficiary
a customized percentage between 66% and 100% of your reduced allowance. If
you are in Plan E, you can provide your eligible beneficiary a customized
percentage between 56% and 100% of your reduced allowance.
information, call 800-786-6464 and speak with a LACERA Retirement Benefits
to the top)
SECTION 3: Social Security
What is the Social Security offset and who does it affect?
who were employed by the County prior to 1983 are subject to the offset,
which is a reduction in their LACERA retirement allowance for each year of
their County service that was also covered by Social Security. (1-3-07)
How does my LACERA benefit affect my Social Security benefit?
A: If you receive a LACERA retirement allowance AND a Social
Security benefit, your Social Security benefit will be calculated by the
less favorable “Windfall Elimination Provision” (WEP) formula.
This results in a lower Social Security benefit than you would have received
if you were not eligible to receive a LACERA pension. The formula varies,
based on your years of Social Security-covered employment, and does not apply
at all if you have 30 years or more of Social Security coverage. For more
information, visit the Windfall
Elimination Provision page in the Active Member section. (4-6-07)
I am in Plan E. How will the Social Security offset affect my LACERA
A: If you are in Plan E,
a percentage of your estimated Social Security benefit will be subtracted
from your retirement allowance, based on the total number of years and months
of County service covered by Social Security.
LACERA will use actuarial tables to compute your
Social Security benefit offset and your retirement allowance. If you retire
at or after age 62 and would like LACERA to use the actual amount of your
Social Security benefit (rather than an amount based on actuarial tables)
to compute your Social Security benefit offset and your retirement allowance,
you must provide LACERA with information documenting your actual Social
Security benefit. You must provide the documentation within six months
after your retirement. LACERA recommends that you do this. (6-10-08)
to the top)
SECTION 4: Plan E Elective COLA
What is Plan E Elective COLA?
COLA is a provision that offers you the opportunity to purchase a cost-of-living
benefit for the portion of your allowance that is based on service credit
earned prior to June 4, 2002 (this service credit is not eligible for Automatic
COLA). If you purchase Plan E Elective COLA, you will become eligible to
receive a cost-of-living benefit on a greater portion of your retirement
Are there situations in which I would not benefit from Plan E Elective
A: Yes. Your cost for Plan E Elective COLA is based, in
part, on actuarial assumptions for life expectancy and annual inflation.
If you do not reach the actuarially-projected life expectancy, or inflation
is lower than the assumption, you may not recover your total cost. (8-1-06)
How much Plan E Elective COLA may I purchase?
A: You may purchase Plan E Elective COLA for some or all
of your eligible Plan E service credit earned prior to June 4, 2002. (8-1-06)
What types of funds may I use to purchase Plan E Elective COLA?
A: You may pay your contract with before-tax dollars from:
from your 401(k)*, 457**, IRA, or other tax-qualified plan
of rollover AND monthly payroll deductions
an active employee may roll over from the County’s 401(k) Savings
Plan is limited by age, years in plan, and contribution type. Contact Great-West
at 800-947-0845 to determine your eligibility.
Protection Act of 2006 permits LACERA to accept rollovers by active
employees from the County’s Horizons 457 Plan (effective
August 17, 2006). (10-24-06)
How do I calculate the cost to purchase Elective COLA for Plan E?
cost to purchase Plan E Elective COLA varies depending on your individual
situation and actuarial factors. Please contact a Retirement Benefits Specialists
at 800-786-6464. We will prepare a cost calculation and you will not be
obligated to start a payment contract. If you decide to proceed with the
purchase of Plan E Elective COLA, we will then prepare a payment contract
for your signature. (5-28-08)
to the top)
SECTION 5: Terminating Employment
1. Q: What is a deferred member?
deferred member is a vested LACERA member who terminates County or outside
district employment and leaves his or her plan contributions on deposit with
LACERA. Contributory members (Plan A, B, C, or D) are vested with five or
more years of County (or County and reciprocal) retirement service credit,
Plan E members are vested with ten years of County service retirement credit.
Deferred members may apply for a LACERA retirement allowance upon meeting
the minimum age and service credit requirements set forth in their respective
retirement plans. (1-3-07)
2. Q: Can
I quit working now and defer my retirement benefits?
you are vested in Plan A, B, C, or D (5 years of service)
and you quit working and leave your contributions on deposit; they will continue
to earn interest and you will automatically become a deferred member.
If you are not vested in Plan A, B, C, or D (fewer than
5 years of service) and you quit working and leave your contributions on
deposit; they will continue to earn interest. You may become eligible for
future retirement benefits if you return to County service, or enter employment
covered by a reciprocal retirement system within six months.
If you withdraw your deferred contributions and interest, you will forfeit
all rights to future retirement benefits from LACERA.
If you are vested
in Plan E (10 years of service credit), quit working and leave
your contributions, you automatically become a deferred member.
If you are not vested (fewer than 10 years of service) and terminate
employment as a Plan E member, you are not entitled to receive
any retirement benefits from LACERA. However, if you return
and elect Plan D, you are eligible to purchase and receive Plan D credit
for your previous non-vested Plan E service.
keep LACERA informed of address changes while you are on deferred status. (6-23-08)
What happens to my retirement contributions after I terminate from
A: If you are a member of Plan A, B, C or D, and
you leave County service, you have several options:
If eligible, you may
retire, or if you are not eligible to retire, but are vested:
- Your retirement will
be automatically deferred or postponed, and you may retire when you meet
the minimum age and service requirements.
- Your contributions
will remain on deposit and continue to earn interest. If you become a
member of a reciprocal retirement system, visit the reciprocity
page for additional information.
If you are not vested:
- You may leave your
contributions on deposit to earn interest until you withdraw them.
- You would not be
eligible for a future retirement benefit unless you return to service
or become a member of a reciprocal retirement system.
- You may withdraw
your contributions and earned interest.
Be advised that taking a withdrawal terminates your membership
and you give up all rights to future retirement benefits from LACERA, including
disability benefits. (7-17-08)
If I terminate and leave my contributions on deposit, when am I eligible
for LACERA retirement benefits?
A: If you are a vested member
of Plan A, B, C, or D (five years of County retirement service credit) and
terminate County service prior to meeting age and service credit eligibility
for retirement, you may apply to receive your deferred
retirement allowance when you reach age 50 and reach the date
on which you would have earned ten years of service credit as a County employee.
If you are
a vested member of Plan E (ten years of County service retirement credit),
and terminate employment, you may apply for your retirement allowance when
you reach age 55. (9-25-06)
At what age is distribution mandatory for a deferred member?
A: LACERA is required by law to begin paying a deferred retirement
allowance to any deferred member (who is not a member of a reciprocal retirement
system) on April 1 of the year following the year in which the member attains
age 70-1/2. For additional information, refer to your Summary Plan Description
brochure or contact a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist at 800-786-6464. (1-3-07)
: If I terminate from the County, can I roll my LACERA contributions
over to an IRA?
A: Yes, but choose carefully. CAUTION: If you elect to withdraw
or roll over your contributions and interest, you will forfeit (give up)
your right to any future retirement benefits from LACERA, including disability
and retiree healthcare benefits.
If you choose to withdraw
your contributions and interest when you terminate, you may elect to roll
over to an IRA or other qualified employer plan. A surviving spouse or
ex-spouse may also elect a rollover of the member's contributions and interest.
Tax laws governing rollovers are complex, so consult your tax advisor for
detailed information. Note:
Certain restrictions may apply; check with the Plan Administrator. (12-20-06)
7. Q: How
do I roll over an existing retirement account into a 457 Horizons account?
A: Contact your financial institution or Great West at 800-947-0845. (3-3-08)
to the top)
SECTION 6: Final Compensation
What is final compensation?
A: Final compensation is one factor used to determine a member's
monthly retirement allowance. It is an average of the member's highest monthly
pensionable income during any one-year or three-year period. Generally, if
you are a member of Plan A, B, C, or D, your final compensation will be based
on one year (12 consecutive months).
If you are a Plan E
member, your final compensation will be based on three years (either 36
consecutive months or three separate 12-consecutive-month periods). (7-18-06)
Are overtime pay and excess vacation pay included in final compensation?
A: No, overtime is not considered “pensionable
earnings;” therefore it is not included in final average compensation.
The amount you receive upon termination for unused vacation and sick leave,
also called “termination pay,” is not pensionable earnings. Active
employees may be eligible to receive compensation for excess vacation, holiday,
or sick leave (also called “buy-back”); up to certain maximums.
This compensation is included in your final compensation.
If you have questions
about buy-back eligibility, contact your personnel/human resources department.
You can learn more about how to maximize your final compensation by attending
3. Q: Which pay items are pensionable under the Ventura Decision?
A: A list of pensionable items is located within our retirement
calculator section. Click here
to see the Ventura Decision pay items. (6-26-06)
You may also
request an official retirement estimate by calling us at 800-786-6464. (6-04-08)
How much sick leave will I be paid for if I terminate County service?
A: If you are a permanent full-time employee
who terminates with at least five years of continuous service, the County
will pay you for ("buy back") accumulated sick leave at full pay
to a maximum of 720 working hours, or in the case of employees assigned to
a 56-hour workweek schedule, to a maximum of 1,080 working hours. The 720
hours and 1080 hours stem from 50% of the maximum 1440 hours and 2160 hours. (8-06-08)
for unused leave which is paid to the employee upon termination (also known
as "termination pay") is not included in final compensation and
therefore, not pensionable. (4-3-08)
to the top)
SECTION 7: Planning for Retirement
Why should I attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop?
the essential information you need to know to maximize your retirement benefits.
Each pre-registered attendee receives a personalized estimate of their retirement
benefits, along with recommendations on the most advantageous retirement
dates. All members within five years of retirement are strongly encouraged
to attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop. Call 800-786-6464 to reserve your
How can I determine my most advantageous date to retire?
A: Our Retirement Benefits Specialists can help you with this. Call them at 800-786-6464 or visit LACERA's Member Service Center in Pasadena, Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. These Specialists will help you pick your ideal retirement date.
If you register and attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop at LACERA, you will receive a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits, along with advantageous retirement dates. (2-24-10)
What is the minimum age I can begin receiving a retirement allowance?
A: General members
of Plans A, B, C, or D are eligible to receive a retirement
- Age 50 with at least 10 years service credit,
- 30 years service
credit, regardless of age, or
- Age 70, regardless
of service credit
Members of Plan E are eligible to receive a retirement allowance
- Age 55 with
at least 10 years service credit
- Age 70, regardless
of service credit
members of Plans A or B are eligible to receive a retirement
- Age 50 with
at least 10 years service credit, or
- 20 years service
credit, regardless of age (1-3-07)
I plan to retire at age 50. When and how should I contact LACERA to
begin the process?
A: If you are in Plan A, B, C, or
D, you are age-eligible to retire at 50. If you are in Plan E, you are not
eligible to retire until you reach age 55. If you are 50, you may choose
to terminate and defer your retirement until you are 55.
We suggest you attend a Pre-Retirement
Workshop at least five years prior to your retirement, and
again two years prior.
Four to six months before you plan to retire, contact LACERA for a Retirement
Estimate. This estimate will show your personal retirement options in detail.
Plan to visit LACERA to discuss your retirement options with a Retirement
Benefits Specialist. You may elect your retirement option up to 90 days before
your retirement date (no sooner).
If you choose to apply in person at LACERA's Member Service Center, you
will need to bring the following items: your signed Retirement Benefit Estimate and Election form, original marriage or domestic partnership certificate, original
birth certificate for your eligible spouse or domestic partner if you elect
Option 2, 3, 4 or Unmodified+Plus, and your checkbook (to establish Direct
Deposit for your retirement allowance). (11-2-07)
Am I eligible to retire now, or am I too young? Can I stop working
now and then start receiving my retirement benefits in a few years?
A: Each LACERA plan has minimum
age and service credit requirements. See the Retirement Eligibility page
for your plan details and try the Retirement Calculator to compare benefit
estimates based on different ages and years of service credit. You need five
years of service credit to be vested in Plans A, B, C, and D and ten
years of service credit to be vested in Plan E. Vesting means that
you will be eligible for a future retirement benefit even if you leave County
employment before you retire. If you are vested, you may “defer” (postpone)
your retirement and retire at a later date, subject to the requirements for
deferred members. (4-6-07)
What Retirement Options will I have when I retire?
A: When you
get ready to retire and meet the requirements, you may select from several
- Unmodified: Provides
member the highest monthly retirement allowance available.
- Unmodified+Plus: Allows
member to provide survivor a customized percentage of member's reduced
1: Allows member to provide a single lump-sum payment
to beneficiary. Member receives slightly reduced unmodified allowance. (Not
available in Plan E.)
2: Allows member to provide beneficiary 100% of
member's reduced allowance.
3: Allows member to provide beneficiary 50% of
member's reduced allowance.
4: Can be customized to provide for multiple beneficiaries.
Member receives reduced unmodified allowance. (7-10-06)
How can I find out when LACERA presents Pre-Retirement Workshops in
A: Check our Pre-Retirement
Workshop Calendar to see when workshops are scheduled in different
areas. To reserve a space in the Pre-Retirement Workshop, call 800-786-6464. (5-27-08)
8. Q: When
will a LACERA representative be visiting the High Desert Health System
A: A Retirement Benefits Specialist from LACERA will be available
at the benefit table in your cafeteria conference room to answer any questions
you have on the 4th Thursday of every month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (3-18-08)
9. Q: If
I retire on or before March 31 will I be eligible for the cost-of-living
adjustment on April 1?
A: Yes. Many
members take advantage of the April 1 COLA by retiring on or before March
31. It is best to consult with a Retirement Benefits Specialist as factors
like birth date and age are also important in choosing a retirement date. (8-16-11)
What documents do I need to apply for retirement?
are several documents you will need to initiate the process of retirement.
First, you should contact LACERA six months before you plan to retire at
800-786-6464 and request a Retirement Benefit Estimate. Or,
you can create your own preliminary Retirement Benefit Estimate if you register
on MY LACERA at lacera.com. This estimate will show your personal retirement
options in detail.
Plan to visit LACERA to discuss your retirement
options with a Retirement Benefits Specialist. You will
need to bring the following documents to apply for retirement: your signed
Election to Retire form, original birth certificate for your eligible
spouse or domestic partner if you elect Option 2, 3, 4 or Unmodified+Plus,
and your checkbook (to establish Direct Deposit for your retirement allowance). We
also suggest that you attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop at LACERA where we
will review all the forms and information necessary to help you plan
Another good reference for you is our The
Process of Retiring web page which includes a Checklist
for Retirement Planning to review all the necessary steps
in applying for retirement.
When I become eligible to retire, will LACERA automatically retire
You must contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 to initiate your application for
retirement. LACERA does not automatically retire employees.* We recommend you contact LACERA to attend
a Pre-Retirement Workshop five years prior to retirement. Another source
of information about the retirement process is our The
Process of Retiring web page. (6-10-08)
*One exception is members with double accounts.
They may retire at age 50 for Plan D and then be automatically retired
at 55 for Plan E.
If I provide a certified copy of my marriage certificate, will I get
does require original certified marriage certificates, domestic partner registration,
and birth certificates for dependent children that have been recorded by
the county, state, or country of residence for our files. Once we receive
your original certificates, we will scan copies into our files and return
the original certificate to you in the mail. (5-12-08)
Should I report for work on my retirement date?
A: No. Don't report to work on your retirement date. For
example, if your effective retirement date is September 10, you don't have
to report to work on that day. You are retired! (5-12-08)
Once I retire, can I return to work for the County?
A: An eligible retiree may return to work for the County for a period
of up to 120 days (960 hours in any 12-month period) and continue to receive
his/her retirement allowance. During this post-retirement employment, however,
the member will not accrue any additional LACERA pension benefits, nor will
the member or the employer pay contributions for this service.
There is a
90-day waiting period following retirement for retirees under Normal Retirement
Age who are returning to work.
Age for members of LACERA:
- Age 57
for general contributory members
- Age 65
for general noncontributory members
- Age 55
for safety members
may apply to retirees under age 59.5 who have not had a "bona fide" separation
(90-day waiting period) from service and are engaged in post-retirement
work with the County. For information pertaining to your individual situation,
consult with a professional advisor; LACERA does not offer tax or legal
I'm going to retire soon, and I would like information about the health
care plans available to retired members.
a list of current LACERA-Administered Retiree Healthcare information online,
visit our Retiree Healthcare section. (3-3-08)
I am an active County employee, and I do not carry my wife on my health
insurance. If I retire, can I add her as a dependent on my LACERA-Administered
A: Yes. Once you retire, you can enroll in a LACERA-Administered
Healthcare Plan and include your spouse on your healthcare coverage. Eligible
dependents for your LACERA-Administered Healthcare Plan include:
- Your spouse
- Your eligible
- Your unmarried
natural or legally adopted children or stepchildren, under 19 or up to
23 who are enrolled as full-time students and depend on you for financial
- Your unmarried
dependent children over 19 who are incapable of self-support due to a
physical or mental handicap and meet specific requirements (6-09-08)
I'm an active County employee and will turn 65 in a few months. Should
I apply for Medicare?
A: If you are still an active County employee at age 65, you should
contact the County Employees Benefits Office at (213) 388-9982 to inquire
about Medicare eligibility and enrollment. If you retire at age 65 and you
are eligible for Medicare, you can enroll in a LACERA-administered Medicare