Working After Retirement

Working for a SCERA employer

As a retired SCERA member, you may work for a SCERA-covered employer without affecting your monthly retirement benefit as long as you comply with the requirements of California retirement law and federal tax law, as summarized below.  It is up to you and your proposed SCERA-covered employer to ensure compliance with these requirements and strict penalties may be imposed on a retiree who does not satisfy these requirements. 

180-day break in service

General members must have a 180-day break in service following retirement before returning to work for a SCERA-covered employer. A “break in service” includes the employee terminating employment with no agreement or understanding between the employer and employee that the employee will return to work for the employer. A General member can return to work before the end of the 180 days without loss of retirement benefits only if the employer certifies that the appointment is critically needed (necessary to prevent work stoppage in an emergency or the member has skills needed to perform work of limited duration) and the appointment is approved by the governing body of the employer in a public meeting (not on the consent calendar).

A public safety officer or firefighter is generally exempt from the 180-day separation requirement if returning to work in a public safety officer or firefighter position.

The 180-day restriction applies to working as an independent contractor, consultant, contract employee or working through a third-party employer.

If the 180-day break is not satisfied, there is a plan violation and retirement benefits will be suspended, and benefits already paid must be repaid, until there is a 180-day break in service.

60-day break in service

The 60-day break in service cannot be waived, and applies to anyone retiring prior to age 59-1/2. If the 60-day break is not satisfied, the retiree will be subject to a tax penalty until they turn age 59-1/2. In addition, if the member retires without a 60-day break in service, and before normal retirement age (58 for General members and 50 for Safety members) there is a plan violation and retirement benefits will be suspended, and benefits already paid must be repaid, until there is a 60-day break in service.

960-hour limit

Retirees may continue to receive their retirement benefit if they meet the break-in-service requirements above and their extra help employment with all SCERA-covered employers is limited to 960 hours during each fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) per Government Code section 7522.56.

Unemployment Insurance

A retiree who receives unemployment insurance arising from the end of an extra help assignment may not be employed in any public employment capacity for a period of 12 months after the unemployment benefits cease.

Working for non-SCERA employers

After your retirement you may work in any occupation or employment for an employer other than one of SCERA's participating employers, and there is no impact on your SCERA benefit. The only exception is that you may not work for another agency (such as a temp agency) and be assigned to work for a SCERA employer.

If you are receiving a pension from another governmental plan, such as Social Security, please contact that plan administrator to find out how working after retirement may affect your situation.

Separation from Service

There are serious consequences if you fail to have a bona fide break in service. For a more complete explanation, please see the following:

Separation from Service following Retirement Summary

County of Sonoma Retiree Extra Help Information