As a member of CCCERA, you may be eligible for the benefits of reciprocity. Reciprocity is an agreement among public defined benefit retirement systems to allow members to move from one public employer to another public employer within a specific time limit without losing some valuable privileges related to your retirement benefits. There is no transfer of funds or service credit between retirement systems when you establish reciprocity. You become a member of both systems and are subject to the membership obligations and rights of each system (for example, minimum retirement age may vary between systems), except as modified by the reciprocity agreement. You must apply to retire from each system separately, and you will receive separate retirement allowances from each system. You must retire on the same date from each public retirement system participating in a reciprocal agreement for all benefits of reciprocity to apply.

Reciprocity Benefits

The following benefits and requirements apply to CCCERA members who make a qualified move between reciprocal retirement systems. 

  • Legacy Benefit Tier: The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) requires new benefit tiers for new members on or after January 1, 2013. Reciprocal members who were in a legacy (pre-PEPRA) tier with a prior reciprocal employer will be eligible for a legacy tier with CCCERA.
  • Member Contribution Rate Based on Age at Entry (Legacy Tiers Only): Retirement formulas for CCCERA legacy tier members are based on age at entry; with a lower age at entry generally meaning a lower contribution rate. CCCERA uses the age at entry of the first reciprocal system to determine the contribution rate.
  • Highest Final Compensation: CCCERA will compute your final average compensation based on the highest rate of pay under any system, as long as you retire on the same date from all systems. Systems will use either a 12- or 36-month consecutive highest final compensation depending on benefit tier. 
  • Qualification for Benefits: Service earned under all reciprocal systems may be used to meet each system’s vesting and retirement eligibility requirements.

Reciprocity Requirements

When changing retirement systems, you must satisfy several statutory conditions, as follows, in order to receive the full benefits of reciprocity:

  • Maintain Membership: You must continue membership in the first retirement system by leaving your service credit and contributions (if any) on deposit.
  • Movement to a New Reciprocal System: You must have a date of membership in the new system within six months of leaving the old system. The six months is extended to one year if termination was due to lay off because of a lack of work, a lack of funds, or a reduction in workforce.
  • No Overlapping Service: You must discontinue your employment relationship from the first system before entering employment with the subsequent system.
  • Concurrent Retirement between Reciprocal Systems: In order to receive full reciprocal benefits, you must retire on the same date from both or all systems by submitting a retirement application in accordance to the rules and regulations applicable to each system.
  • Exceptions and Restrictions: Certain exceptions and restrictions may apply. Eligibility for reciprocity is determined by the retirement laws in effect at the time of movement between retirement systems

Important Restrictions

  • Concurrent Employment: Reciprocity does not apply when your employment under the first retirement system overlaps your employment under the new system. For the benefits of reciprocity to apply, you must terminate employment under the first system prior to entering employment with the subsequent system. Reciprocity may not be established even if the overlapping time is due only to using vacation or leave time with the first employer while becoming member of the new system.
  • Refund Restriction: Some retirement systems may not allow you to withdraw your member contributions while you are employed in a position covered by a reciprocal retirement system.

Reinstatement From Retirement

If in the future you reinstate to active employment in a CCCERA-covered position and have retired under reciprocity, there is no provision in the law to allow you to apply reciprocal rights to your subsequent retirement since you will no longer be retired from both systems on the same date. If you have any questions regarding reciprocity, including the requirements, restrictions or benefits of reciprocity, contact our office.


How to Establish Reciprocity with CCCERA

When you accept a position for permanent employment with Contra Costa County or special district employers, you will fill out an Enrollment Affidavit (Form 101). If you are entering service as a reciprocal member, you may indicate your reciprocity in Section 3 of Form 101 and will need to complete the Reciprocity Election Form (Form 103).

General information

Reciprocal Retirement Systems

Reciprocity is an agreement among public retirement systems to allow members to move from one public employer to another public employer within a specific time limit without losing some valuable retirement and related benefit rights.

CCCERA is reciprocal with the other county retirement systems under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL or 1937 Act), as well as the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and any system that has a reciprocal agreement with CalPERS. To verify whether a system has reciprocity with CCCERA, contact our office.