CalPERS Reciprocity: What Happens When You Change Retirement Systems?
CalPERS employees move from one employer to another from time to time. For example a police officer may take a job with a different police department, or a teacher may move to another school district. In this article we discuss how changing employers affects your CalPERS retirement benefits – and what happens to accrued (built up) retirement and related benefits.
If you were a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), and you have switched employers, you may be eligible for “reciprocity”. This reciprocity is an agreement between different public retirement systems that allows members to move from one public employer to another public employer without losing valuable benefit rights – including retirement and disability retirement.
To see a complete list of Public Employee Retirement Systems having “reciprocity” with CalPERS, CLICK HERE.
However, reciprocity is a complicated subject, and the membership and benefit obligations and rights of each retirement system can vary. So it is always wise to discuss your specific situation with an experienced attorney who understands Public Employees’ Retirement Systems.
CalPERS Reciprocity Means Membership in BOTH Systems
Most importantly, members need to understand that there is no transfer of funds – and no transfer of service credits – between retirement systems when you establish reciprocity. Instead, with reciprocity you simply become a member of both retirement systems. This means that the member is then subject to the benefit rights and requirements of both systems (unless expressly modified by the terms of the reciprocity agreement).
This means that under reciprocity you must apply to retire from each system separately, if you worked for more than one system. Then you will receive separate retirement allowances from each of the retirement systems from which you worked.
IMPORTANT: You must retire on the same date from both public retirement systems participating in the reciprocal agreement for all benefits of reciprocity to apply.
As a further requirement: if you are trying to establish reciprocity by re-depositing formerly withdrawn CalPERS contributions, your retirement date can be no earlier than the day following CalPERS’ receipt of your election to purchase this service.
Additionally, if you moved to another retirement system before the effective date of the reciprocal agreement with that system (and you would have been eligible for reciprocity IF that agreement had been in place) your retirement allowance will be calculated using your highest final compensation under either system as long as you retire from both systems on the same date.
Under any circumstances under which you do not qualify for the full benefits of reciprocity, certain benefits may still be available to you from CalPERS.
Our CalPERS Attorneys Can Help
If you have moved from one public employee retirement system to another, it can be confusing to try and understand the benefits for which you qualify under either or both systems.
Our experienced CalPERS disability and retirement attorneys have helped hundreds of CalPERS public employees, and we would be happy to talk to you.
We are one of very few Los Angeles area law firms that are highly specialized in Public Employees Disability Retirement. Our attorneys have filed hundreds of successful disability retirement applications and appeals and have obtained millions of dollars in disability retirement benefits for our clients.
Our attorneys can help disabled public employees obtain their disability retirement benefits from any public employee retirement system in California. If you are an injured police officer, firefighter, teacher, administrator or other public employee, who is applying for or appealing disability retirement benefits, call us today.
Free Consultation with a Disability Retirement Attorney: 800-964-8047
This article applies to members of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS); and does not reflect the rules, laws or regulations governing how other public retirement systems are administered. If you have question about another public employee retirement system, find your system, below – or call our office at: 562-622-4800
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