Leaving Before Retirement

If you leave the service of a SCERA-covered employer before you are eligible to retire, you will be asked to make a decision about the contributions and accrued interest in your SCERA account. The choices you have may vary, depending on whether or not you are vested. Members are vested upon the completion of five years of service (including earned and purchased service for a SCERA employer, and reciprocal service. Purchased public service is not included).

If you leave employment, but cannot retire, please complete the Distribution of Contributions Election Form to select one of the following options and submit it to SCERA.

Establish reciprocity

You may establish reciprocity by leaving your accumulated retirement contributions on deposit with SCERA and establishing membership in a reciprocal retirement system within six months. Reciprocity is an election you make with the retirement system. It is not established automatically.

Become a deferred-vested member

If you are vested, you may elect to become a deferred member by leaving your accumulated contributions and interest on deposit, and later begin receiving a monthly retirement benefit. You will be eligible for a service retirement from SCERA when you would have been otherwise eligible to retire had you remained in a full-time eligible position.

Become a deferred non-vested member

If you are not vested, you may elect to become a deferred member by leaving your accumulated contributions and interest on deposit and continue to earn interest. You will be eligible for retirement at age 70.

Take a refund

If you terminate employment, you have the option of taking a refund of your contributions and interest, payable directly to you or rolled into another qualified retirement account. If the refund is payable directly to you, all pre-tax contributions plus interest will be subject to tax withholding. Please refer to the "Special Tax Notice Regarding Plan Payments and Federal Income Tax" section of the Distribution of Retirement Contributions Election form. The refund process takes six to eight weeks.

Returning to SCERA

Upon returning to SCERA membership, your membership in Plan A or Plan B will depend on your prior Plan membership.

If your funds are still in the retirement system and you return to SCERA membership, your earlier service credit is intact, and you will resume earning service credit.

If you withdrew your funds, you may redeposit your previously withdrawn contributions, plus the interest your funds would have earned if you had left them on deposit. Such a redeposit would restore the service credit that was forfeited by the withdrawal. For more information on a redeposit, please refer to the section on Purchasing Service Credit.

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