When you first become a member of the Sonoma County Employees' Retirement Association (SCERA) you are probably going through a major life transition. A new job, new responsibilities, new people and maybe even a new home. And there is plenty of paperwork to fill out, too. Perhaps you didn't have a chance to carefully consider the fact that you are now a member of a public pension system, or understand what that means to you. This section of our website will answer most of the questions a new member may have, and review the things that may be important to you at this early stage in your career.
Membership — Find out who is eligible for membership, and who might be eligible to waive membership. Your date of entry into the retirement system will determine which Plan you will be in.
Contributions — What you contribute toward your retirement is based on several factors, such as whether you are a General member or a Safety member, your age at the time you become a SCERA member, and the date you become a SCERA member. If you are eligible for Reciprocity, which is an agreement among California retirement systems, your contribution rate may be lowered.
Beneficiaries — A beneficiary is a person or persons you name to receive benefits in the event of your death. These benefits might be limited to a refund of your contributions, or they might be a lifetime benefit. Be sure your beneficiary designation is always up-to-date.
Prior Public Service — As soon as you become a member, it's important to let SCERA know if you have prior service in a public agency. There are several kinds of prior public service that could enhance the benefit you receive at retirement. You may also be able to establish Reciprocity with a former California public retirement system.
Reciprocity — Did you come to SCERA within six months of membership in another California public retirement system? Reciprocity protects your benefits when you to move from one California public retirement system to another.