Service Credit

Earned service credit

Service credit is earned in a number of ways. The most common way to accumulate service is by working for a participating employer in an eligible position. Part-time employees earn service credit for every hour in pay status, even if the hours worked exceed the normal full-time equivalent (FTE) for the position. 

Typically, the more retirement service credit you have when you retire, the greater your monthly retirement benefit will be.

Purchased service credit

Most service credit is earned as you work. However, you may be eligible to purchase some additional service credit. If you are considering purchasing service credit, SCERA will help you determine whether the service qualifies for purchase, how much it will cost, and the benefit you would receive by investing in more service credit.

Types of service credit eligible for purchase

  1. Service prior to membership
  2. Leave without pay
  3. Redeposit of withdrawn contributions
  4. Public service/Military service
  5. Military leave without pay

For detailed information on the different types of service credit, how the cost is determined, and the various payment options available, please click on the form Purchase of Service Credit-Frequently Asked Questions. This document will also tell you what information you will need to submit to SCERA before the cost of the purchase can be determined. You may also submit a request by using the Service Purchase Estimate Request Form.

If the time you are purchasing is time worked for a SCERA-covered employer, that time will help you become vested and meet retirement eligibility. Public service and military service do not help you become eligible for vesting or retirement, but will add to your monthly benefit amount.

Cost/benefit analysis

Purchasing additional service credit is an investment in your future retirement. When SCERA provides you with the cost of the purchase, you will also receive an estimate of the additional retirement benefit the purchased service will give you. You can find out how long it will take to recover your investment by dividing the cost of the investment by the monthly benefit.

For example:

Total cost ÷ additional monthly benefit = months to recover cost
$3,936 cost ÷ $80 additional monthly benefit = 50 months
50 ÷ 12 = 4.1 years

In this example, the cost of the purchase is recovered 4.1 years after retirement. 

Service Credit Information

Click link to download information about service credit