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FAQS - RETIRED MEMBERS

  1. What do the terms mean that are listed under “Allowances” on my monthly pay stub?

    The terms represent income and allowances reflected in your retirement check. Some of the most common terms include:

    Annuity Non-taxable – This portion of your allowance is not taxable. It represents after-tax contributions; in other words, you have already paid taxes on this amount. After-tax contributions may be contributions you made before August 1, 1983 or after-tax payments you made to purchase service credit.

    Annuity Taxable – This portion of your allowance is taxable. It represents before-tax contributions; in other words, you have not paid taxes on this amount yet. Before-tax contributions may include contributions you made since August 1, 1983 or before-tax payments you made for a plan transfer or to purchase service credit.

    Pension Reserve – This portion of your allowance is taxable. It is derived from contributions made by the County or district.

    Cost-of-Living Adjustment – Represents the accumulated cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) granted by the Board of Retirement each April 1. Once granted, the dollar amount is permanent and cumulative. Members of Plans A, B, C, or D are eligible to receive the April 1 COLA. Plan E members who earned service credit on and after June 4, 2002 are also eligible to receive the COLA.

    Supplemental Targeted Adjustment for Retirees (STAR COLA) – Represents the cost-of-living benefit granted by the Board of Retirement on January 1 for those members who have lost more than 20 percent of the value of their retirement allowance to inflation. Only Plan A, B, C, or D members are eligible for STAR COLA.

  2. LACERA still offering Savings Bonds purchases?

    No. The United States Department of the Treasury has converted its Savings Bond program to a paperless web-based arrangement, where Bond purchases may be made by individuals over the internet, rather than by employer-administered payroll deduction. To purchase Savings Bonds, visit the U.S. Treasury web site.

  3. What is STAR COLA, and how is the benefit determined?

    The Supplemental Targeted Adjustment for Retirees (STAR) or STAR COLA Program is designed to ease the effects of inflation for a retiree whose retirement allowance has lost more than 20 percent of its purchasing power since retirement. Eligible retirees are determined by plan and retirement date. Each year, the Board of Retirement determines whether a STAR benefit is due to any LACERA retirees based on inflation experienced over their retirement years, offset by April 1 COLAs the retirees have already received. Inflation is measured by increases in the Los Angeles-Anaheim-Riverside, CA Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Board also determines whether the benefit should be an ad-hoc benefit (paid for one year only) or a permanent benefit (added to the base retirement allowance for the member’s life).

  4. I am the survivor of a Plan D member. Are the benefits I’m receiving affected by the amount my deceased spouse (or domestic partner) already received?

    Continuing benefits are determined by the Retirement Option the member chose at retirement. If a Plan D member selects Option 1, upon the member’s death, his/her named beneficiary will receive a lump-sum payment equal to the remaining balance of the member’s retirement contributions, if any. The amount paid to the beneficiary under this option is affected by the amount the member received in retirement. If a Plan D member selects the Unmodified Option or the Unmodified+Plus Option, the eligible surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a monthly continuing benefit for the rest of his/her life. This benefit amount is not affected by the amount the member received in retirement.

  5. How is the continuing survivor benefit calculated under the Unmodified Retirement Option?

    It varies according to the Plan. Upon the death of a retiree who elected the Unmodified Retirement Option in Plan A, B, C, or D, the eligible survivor receives a continuing monthly benefit equal to 65 percent of the allowance the retiree received in his or her lifetime. Under Plan E, the eligible survivor receives a continuing monthly benefit in an amount equal to 55 percent of the allowance the retiree received in his or her lifetime. For members who retired prior to June 4, 2002, the continuing benefit percentage is 60 percent in Plan A, B, C, or D and 50 percent under Plan E.

  6. How has LACERA changed its tax reporting on Service-Connected Disability (SCD) Retirement allowances?

    In response to IRS requirements, LACERA determines the taxable amount on SCD allowances, and identifies it accordingly in the Total Taxable YTD category on your check stub or automatic deposit receipt (ADR). Prior to 2006, LACERA reported SCD income as “Taxable Amount Not Determined.”) These changes are reflected on the annual Form 1099-R that LACERA is required to send each retiree and file with the IRS. For more information, call 800-786-6464 and speak with a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist.

  7. How can I sign up for Direct Deposit?

    You can enroll in Direct Deposit on My LACERA or by calling 800-786-6464 and one of our Retirement Benefits Specialists will assist you. (Tip: Have one of your checks or bank information on hand before calling.) If you prefer to enroll by mail, visit the Brochures & Forms page for a Direct Deposit brochure and application.

  8. What is COLA?

    “COLA” is a cost-of-living adjustment for your retirement allowance. This benefit aims to reduce the impact of inflation for retirees. Adjustments are based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and are approved by the Board of Retirement each year.

  9. I’m in Plan E. Do I get a cost-of-living adjustment?

    As a Plan E member, you are eligible for Automatic COLA on the portion of your retirement allowance based on service credit earned on and after June 4, 2002. This annual adjustment can result in an increase up to a maximum of two percent.* The actual percentage may vary each year based on inflation rates.

    *In the event the cost of living decreases, the Board of Retirement may apply a negative COLA adjustment.

  10. I’m retired. What are the rules for returning to County service on a temporary basis?

    Under certain circumstances, the County may hire a LACERA retiree on a temporary basis. In those cases, an eligible retiree may return to County work for a period of up to 120 days (960 hours in any July 1-June 30 fiscal year) and continue to receive his/her retirement allowance.

  11. I am retired, but wish to return to full-time County service. What should I do?

    A retired member may return to active membership in LACERA, if the member:

    • Makes an application to the Board of Retirement for reinstatement;
    • Is determined by the Board of Retirement not to be incapacitated for the duties assigned to the member, based on medical examination;*
    • Is eligible for membership (i.e., a permanent employee working three-quarter time or more); and
    • Is hired by the County**

    The Board of Retirement will cancel your retirement allowance and reinstate you to active LACERA membership. You must choose Plan D within 60 days or you will automatically become a member of Plan E, regardless of your prior plan.

    Your retirement allowance will be resumed only upon your subsequent termination from County employment. If you received an Early Separation Program (ESP) payoff, you are not eligible for rehire.

    *As required by CERL §31680.4.

    **A Department must receive approval from the Board of Supervisors to permanently rehire a retiree.

  12. Where can I find a Payday Planning Calendar for retired members?

    View our Payday Calendar displaying mailing dates for LACERA retirement checks and direct deposit dates.

  13. I’m retired and just got divorced. Will this affect LACERA sending my monthly retirement allowance?

    If you divorce after retirement, LACERA will continue paying your full monthly allowance until we receive a conformed copy (with the court clerk’s filing date stamp and the judge’s signature) of the final Judgment of Dissolution directing a split of your allowance with your ex-spouse.

  14. I’m retired and just got divorced. Will LACERA automatically remove my ex-spouse from my Retiree Healthcare coverage?

    No. You must notify LACERA to remove your ex-spouse from your Retiree Healthcare coverage. However, in some cases, the court will order continuation of an ex-spouse’s health insurance and will hold you financially responsible for that coverage.

  15. When do we find out about the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)?

    Each year, before April, the Board of Retirement evaluates the inflation experienced during the past year and determines the percentage increase, if any, for LACERA allowances paid to retirees, survivors, and beneficiaries. This adjustment becomes effective each April 1st, so the increase will be reflected in your April 30th check. Learn more about COLA.

  16. I’m a retiree, and I’m getting divorced soon. What will happen to my monthly check?

    First of all, it is important to notify LACERA immediately if you are retired and are in the process of a divorce. If you divorce after retirement, LACERA will continue paying your full monthly allowance until we receive a conformed copy (with the court clerk’s filing date stamp and the judge’s signature) of the final Judgment of Dissolution directing a split of your allowance with your ex-spouse. In addition, you must contact LACERA in writing to remove your former spouse/partner from your LACERA-administered retiree healthcare coverage within 30 days after the date of dissolution.

  17. How can I change the tax withholding on my monthly allowance?

    If you are a retiree, survivor, beneficiary, or alternate payee who receives a monthly allowance from LACERA, you may change your federal tax withholding election at any time. The quickest and easiest way to adjust and submit your tax withholding election is on My LACERA. Or you can print Form W-4P/DE-4P, complete and sign it, and mail it to LACERA. Your new tax withholding will be reflected on the check that is issued at least 30 days after we receive your form.

  18. I am the spouse of an L.A. County retiree. Am I eligible for part of his benefit if he dies before I do?

    If you were married/registered partners at least one year before the member retired (or, in the case of a service-connected disability retirement, any time prior to the retirement date), you are an eligible surviving spouse/partner and you may be eligible for a benefit upon the member’s death. The benefit depends upon the member’s plan, Retirement Option, and other factors.

  19. What if I marry after retirement? Will my new spouse be eligible for any LACERA benefits?

    If you marry or enter into a registered domestic partnership after you retire, your new spouse/partner will be an eligible dependent under the LACERA-administered retiree healthcare program. You must add your new dependent within 30 days after the date of marriage/registration. Generally, a spouse/partner added after retirement is not eligible for a continuing monthly allowance after the member’s death. Also, you may name him or her as your beneficiary for the $5,000 death/burial benefit.*

    *Upon the death of a retired reciprocal member, LACERA pays the death/burial benefit only if it is the member’s last employing agency.

  20. I’m a new retiree. What information resources do I have?

    Our Retired Member section offers retirement information. You will receive our quarterly newsletter, Spotlight on Retirement, which includes information on legislation, the LACERA-administered healthcare program, and more. Once a year, you’ll receive a package with updated information on LACERA-administered medical and dental/vision plans.

  21. When will I get my Form 1099-R?

    LACERA mails a Form 1099-R at the end of January to each retiree, survivor, and beneficiary who received a benefit from LACERA in the previous year. This form, which indicates the total income you received from LACERA, should be used to file your income tax return. Copies of your 1099-R are also available on My LACERA.

  22. How is the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) applied to my retirement allowance each year?

    California Government Code requires that each year, prior to April 1, the Board of Retirement (BOR) will determine whether there has been an increase or decrease in the cost of living, as reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Urban Consumers for the Los Angeles-Anaheim-Riverside area. If the BOR approves a COLA, the adjustment is reflected in the April allowances of retirees and eligible survivors. The provisions of COLA vary according to your LACERA Plan. For additional information, visit the Plan Book section.

  23. Will the COLA be applied to my deferred retirement?

    No. The annual COLA benefit will be applied to your retirement benefit after you have retired.

  24. I’m a retired member. When I die, will my retirement benefits stop or will they go to my survivor or named beneficiary?

    Continuing benefits vary according to the Retirement Option you elected. Under the Unmodified Option, Unmodified+Plus Option, and Options 2, 3, and 4, upon your death, your eligible survivor or named beneficiary is entitled to a continuing monthly benefit.* The allowance is based on a percentage of the monthly allowance you received during your lifetime; that percentage is determined by the option you elect at retirement. Under Option 1, your named beneficiary receives a lump-sum payment (NOTE: Option 1 is not available under Plan E). See Service Retirement for more information. When a member in Plan A, B, C, D, or E dies after retirement, the surviving spouse, or the named beneficiary or estate, is entitled to receive a one-time $5,000 death/burial benefit from LACERA.**

    *Check the Exploring the Benefits section of your Plan Book to learn how the Retirement Option you elect affects who qualifies as an eligible beneficiary.

    **Upon the death of a retired reciprocal member, LACERA pays the death/burial benefit only if it is the member’s last employing agency.

  25. As a retiree, I take extended vacations. Is it necessary to notify LACERA to ensure I continue receiving my retirement allowance while I’m away?

    Yes. It is important to notify us when you will be spending an extended period of time at a second home or vacation home, or when you have other temporary address changes. If, for some reason, your retirement check or automatic deposit receipt is returned to LACERA while you are away, we will stop payment on your allowance for your protection.

  26. My LACERA "New Retiree Package" included information on Employee Unions/Senior Associations. Is LACERA affiliated with these organizations?

    These organizations are not affiliated with LACERA. As a courtesy, LACERA occasionally enables them to send you material. We do not provide your address to these organizations. LACERA does not endorse these groups or the services they offer. You may wish to review their information and consider whether their services are of interest to you. When you receive the mailings, call the organizations directly if you have any questions about their services. Note: LACERA is unable to answer questions regarding these organizations or their programs.

  27. I am living outside California in another country, and I cannot use the toll-free number for LACERA. Is there another phone number I can call?

    You can call LACERA at 626-564-6132. Unfortunately, it will not be a free phone call, but this phone number will take you directly into the Call Center at LACERA.

  28. If I remarry after retirement, will my new spouse be eligible to receive a continuing allowance if I predecease him/her?

    No. A surviving spouse or a registered domestic partner is eligible to receive a continuing monthly survivor allowance if he or she married the member or registered as a domestic partner at least one year prior to the member’s date of retirement. You can name your new spouse/partner as your beneficiary for the $5,000 death/burial benefit.*

    *Upon the death of a retired reciprocal member, LACERA pays the death/burial benefit only if it is the member’s last employing agency.

  29. I’m retired and thinking of relocating to another state. How would this affect my retirement benefits?

    If you move from California to another state, LACERA will stop the withholdings for California State taxes on your monthly retirement checks. State tax requirements on retirement income differ from state to state. You should consult with your own tax advisor and contact the appropriate state tax authority for its rulings. Be sure to contact LACERA and notify us of your address change to ensure you continue to receive your retirement checks once you relocate. You can make changes to your address on My LACERA or by calling LACERA at 800-786-6464 or 626-564-6132. Healthcare plans will probably change if you move out of state, or the country. Contact the insurance company for specific information about coverage differences. Phone numbers for your insurance companies can be found at Contact Healthcare Insurance Companies. Notify LACERA before you cancel your current health plan coverage.

  30. I have direct deposit for my monthly retirement checks. I did not receive my automatic deposit receipt (ADR) for my last check. What should I do?

    Contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 to notify us you did not receive your ADR in the mail. We will send you a duplicate If you get a monthly paper check and you do not receive it by the fifth working day after the date payable, you may request a duplicate check. The duplicate check will be mailed to you within three to five days of your request. If you do eventually receive the original check, do not cash or deposit it. Write “VOID” on it and return it to LACERA.

  31. I found an uncashed check from LACERA payable to me, and it is six months old. How long is the check valid for cashing?

    LACERA will stop payment on checks one year after they have been issued. After one year, you must contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 regarding reissuance of the check.

  32. Is my monthly allowance affected by the number of days in the month?

    No. Your allowance is based on a fixed monthly amount. The amount is the same regardless of how many days there are in the month.

10/3/16