About Service Retirement

Service retirement is a lifetime benefit. To be eligible for a service retirement, in most cases you must be at least age 50 and have five years of service credit. If you became a member on or after January 1, 2013 you must be age 52.

When you retire, your lifetime retirement benefit is calculated using a formula that includes using your years of service credit, age at retirement, and final compensation. Final compensation is your highest average full-time monthly pay rate for a 1-year or 3-year period based on the employer contract or collective bargaining unit agreement. Please contact your employer for details.

Your retirement benefit formula is based on your membership category, which is determined by your employer (State, school, or local public agency); classification (miscellaneous, general office and others, safety, industrial, or peace officer/firefighter); and the specific provisions in the contract between CalPERS and your employer.

If you're not sure what formula you are in, you can check with your personnel office or review your latest Annual Member Statement.

While there are many variables in figuring your service retirement benefits, the basic formula is:

  • Step 1: Calculate Percentage of Final Compensation
    Years of Service x Benefit Factor = Percentage of Final Compensation
  • Step 2: Calculate Benefit Allowance

Service Not Coordinated with Social Security
Final Compensation x Percent of Final Compensation from Step 1 = Monthly Unmodified Allowance

Service Coordinated with Social Security
(Final Compensation - $133.33) x Percent of Final Compensation from Step 1 = Monthly Unmodified Allowance

We reduce your final compensation by $133.33 because when Social Security became federally mandated, the Legislature ruled that the first one-third of maximum Social Security earnings would always be exempt from CalPERS contributions. At that time, the maximum Social Security earnings were $400 a month. The first one-third of $400 is $133.33.

When you retire, you can choose to receive the Unmodified Allowance (the highest amount payable) or you can take a reduction to that allowance and choose one of the options to provide a monthly lifetime benefit to your beneficiary after your death.

You can get more information by reviewing your Member Benefit Publication. And, you can use our Retirement Estimate Calculator to see how various retirement dates can impact your benefit amount.

CalPERS staff can also assist you with an estimate of your retirement benefits and information on how retirement relates to health benefits, community property, and post-retirement employment. You can contact us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) or visit your nearest CalPERS Regional Office for assistance.

CalPERS also offers Member Education classes to help you plan for a better and healthier retirement. You can find more information on these in our Member Education area.

Additional Resources

Understanding the Social Security Offset & Your Benefits
FAQs - For Non-Members

Dated: 07-17-2013