Whether you are beginning your career or have extensive public
service, CCCERA membership can be an important component of your
own individual retirement plan.
CCCERA is a defined benefit retirement plan which provides a
fixed, pre-established benefit for employees at retirement. The
amount of your benefit is calculated by factors such as salary
and a member’s length of service.
Defined benefit pensions are based on a formula set by law, in
this case the County Employees Retirement Law of
1937 (CERL or 1937 Act), and the California
Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA). PEPRA
became effective on January 1, 2013. This law made substantial
changes in public employee benefits, both for new and for
existing retirement system members. These changes include new
benefit tiers for members entering public retirement systems on
or after January 1, 2013. These tiers are designated as PEPRA
General Tiers 4 and 5, and PEPRA Safety Tiers D and E.
Defined Benefit Plan
As a defined benefit plan, CCCERA provides its members with a
lifetime retirement benefit (i.e., pension) based on their total
years of retirement service credit, age at retirement and final
average compensation. Generally, increasing any of these factors
will increase your pension. A fourth calculation factor is
benefit tier, which is assigned when you enter CCCERA.
Some of the unique advantages of CCCERA’s defined benefit plan
Financial Security: Retired members
receive a pension payment every month for the rest of their
lives, and this amount may increase with time. When the retiree
dies, an eligible beneficiary (e.g., spouse) can receive a
Inflation Protection: An annual cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) is calculated based on the change in the Bay
Area’s consumer price index and applied to retirement benefits
each April. CCCERA’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which
varies depending on tier, helps protect retirees from
Professional Management: CCCERA’s pension
funds are managed by professional investment managers, not
individual plan participants.
Survivorship Benefits: When a CCCERA retiree
dies, there are survivorship benefits available to eligible
beneficiaries, including lifetime continuances and lump-sum
Disability Benefits: Members who have been
permanently incapacitated can apply for a disability
retirement. If granted, the benefit is payable for life and
subject to annual COLAs. The meaning of “permanently
incapacitated” depends on your tier.
You become a CCCERA member on the first day of the month
following your employment in an eligible position. Retirement
benefit contributions begin with the first paycheck after
membership. All active, eligible employees contribute to the
retirement system. Membership is mandatory for most employees in
permanent positions, working half-time or more; the exceptions
are elected officials, who may choose membership by declaration,
and employees who begin working after the age of 60 who may waive
membership in the system.
CCCERA members can be active, deferred or retired:
- Active members currently work for one of CCCERA’s plan
- Deferred members have terminated employment and left their
retirement contributions on deposit in CCCERA.
- Retired members have retired for service or disability.