Following are the steps you will want to take within six months of your planned retirement date, and links to help you get started.
Consult with LACERA
Set up an appointment with a Retirement Benefits Specialist for a one-on-one retirement counseling session. All sessions include:
- A review of your service credit history
- Discussions about your retirement options
- Multiple retirement estimates to help you pick the right options and the best dates
- A review of your retiree healthcare options
- A walk through and assistance on how to fill out your retirement document(s)
How to Select Your Retirement Date
It’s important to consider all the factors involved before choosing your retirement date, to make sure that you are selecting the most advantageous year, month, and date to maximize your benefits. See more details on the Choosing Your Date page.
Request an Official Retirement Estimate and Election to Retire Form
It is best to contact us for these requests six months prior to your retirement. The official retirement estimate takes about two to four months, because it includes an audit to ensure your service credit and other account data are correct. (Annual benefit statements and retirement benefit estimates on My LACERA are unofficial, since they have not been reviewed.) Requesting your official retirement estimate six months before you retire allows you to have time to carefully review and ensure you are satisfied with your retirement option, make sure it matches your expectations, and gather any other necessary information or documents.
Consult with Empower
If you will be selling back unused vacation or sick time and want to defer taxes on your payment, talk to Empower about rolling over your termination pay to your retirement savings accounts. The rollover application deadline is 90 days before your desired retirement date.
You may also want to discuss payment distribution options, consolidating your 457b and 401k accounts (at retirement) to save on administrative fees, and options for paying off outstanding loans.
Contact Empower at 800-947-0845.
Additional Important Timelines and Considerations
Depending on your plan and individual circumstances, here are other important and timely transactions you may need to complete during your retirement process.
If divorced or dissolving a marriage or registered domestic partnership: Your LACERA pension is subject to division based on California community property laws, which define ownership of property acquired during a marriage or registered domestic partnership.
Submit your conformed divorce/dissolution of partnership documents (Judgment of Dissolution, Notice of Entry of Judgment, and Qualified Domestic Relations Order) for legal review as early as possible. The review process is 90 business days and other documents may be required. LACERA cannot pay your retirement allowance until the Judgment of Dissolution is final and a court order directing the community property division of your LACERA benefits is received.
Buybacks and termination pay: You may be able to enhance your average monthly salary by selling back your unused sick leave, vacation and holiday time, or other unused leave. See more under Pensionable Leave Items on the Compensation page. Specifics on buybacks vary, so check with your department’s payroll. (Note: Overtime and termination pay are not included in your final compensation.)
When you terminate service for retirement, the County payroll department issues your payment for unused sick, vacation, holiday, and/or nonelective leave hours that remain on the books. This payment is taxable but can be rolled over into your retirement savings account to defer taxes. The rollover application deadline is 90 days before your desired retirement date. See Consult with Empower above.
Retiring under reciprocity: If you have established reciprocity, you must apply for retirement from each system separately and retire from each system concurrently (on the same day).
Service credit purchases: If you retire before your contract is paid in full, you must complete payment within 120 days after your termination or retirement date.
Plan transfers for members of Plans D and E: If you have prospectively transferred from Plan E to D or from Plan D to E, carefully review your online plan book for specific information about retiring under your plan. (See Plan D | Combined Allowances or Plan E | Combined Allowances.)
If you are transferring from Plan E to D via an Open Window transfer, you have 120 days to complete your purchase after you retire. If payment has not been completed within 120 days, you will remain in Plan E and your retirement allowance will be calculated according to the provisions of Plan E. See more under the Transfers to Plan D page.
Once you’ve completed all of your “6 to 2 Months Before” steps, get ready to retire!