SCERA administers a defined benefit plan, which means that your lifetime retirement benefit is defined by a formula. Plan A, also known as the Legacy Plan, is for members who entered the retirement system prior to January 1, 2013. Prior membership in SCERA or another California public retirement system may determine whether a member is in Plan A or Plan B.
General 3% @ 60
Safety 3% @ 50
Your lifetime retirement benefit is calculated at the time of retirement by multiplying three factors:
1. Age Factor - A percentage, which is determined by your age at retirement
2. Highest one-year average monthly compensation
3. Total earned/purchased service credit
Increasing any of the three factors increases the amount of your lifetime retirement benefit.
Age at retirement
Your age at retirement, measured to the completed quarter year, is attached to a percentage. Your retirement benefit is a percentage (based on your retirement age) of your highest one-year average monthly compensation. View the age factors for Plan A by clicking on the appropriate link above.
Highest average monthly compensation
One factor of the benefit formula is your highest consecutive one-year average monthly compensation (minus $116.67 for employees that participate in Social Security). For part-time employees, SCERA uses the necessary hours for a one-year equivalent. This consecutive period can be at any time in your career where your pensionable earnings are highest. Overtime pay is not pensionable.
Service credit measures the amount of time you have been participating in the Plan, plus any purchases of eligible service credit completed. Service credit is earned for the time you are in paid status, including time you are on paid vacation, holiday or sick leave. You do not earn service credit if you are on leave without pay. Years are not measured by beginning and ending dates, but by the accrual of service credit hours in each pay period or purchased as additional service credit. Part-time members earn service credit at a slower rate.
The calculation of your benefit is simply a matter of multiplying the three factors: age factor x highest average monthly compensation x service credit = your unmodified monthly benefit amount.
General Member Age 55 at Retirement
.025 x $5550 x 25 years = $3468.75 monthly benefit
For help in projecting your future retirement benefit, log on to MySCERA to complete your own benefit estimate.
Sick leave conversion at retirement
The conversion of sick leave increases your retirement service credit total and, therefore, increases your lifetime retirement benefit. Sick leave is not included in the years of service required for retirement eligibility, nor does it change your retirement date or age. For specific eligibility rules and exceptions, please contact your Human Resources department or refer to your own MOU.
Limits on Your Benefits
Retirement law and the IRS place limits on the amount of benefit that can be paid to SCERA retirees.
The Internal Revenue Code Section 415(b) limits the annual benefit amount that can be paid to a retiree from the retirement system. This limit is based on your age at retirement and your retirement plan (General/Safety). SCERA employers have an excess benefits plan which may pay the difference between your calculated benefit and the IRC allowable limit. For specific information on the current year limit, contact SCERA.
The Internal Revenue Code 401(a) (17) imposes limits on compensation that may be used to calculate retirement benefits for individuals who first became members of SCERA on or after January 1, 1996. The 2021 limit is $290,000. This amount may be adjusted annually by the Secretary of the Treasury.
The retirement allowance for Plan A members is capped at 100% of your highest average monthly compensation. Your current highest average monthly compensation can be viewed by logging into your MySCERA account.