Joining CalPERS Membership

Welcome! You’re now a member of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). Your employment with a CalPERS-covered employer means you’ve taken an important step in achieving retirement security. It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement. Keep in mind your CalPERS benefits are only one part of your overall retirement savings so check with your employer or financial advisor to learn more about additional retirement options.

What Are Your First Steps?

To get you started, here are a few resources and actions for you to consider:

To register for a myCalPERS account, select the Register Now button and follow the steps. Once you’ve logged in to your account, you’ll see different tabs on the top ribbon: Home, Retirement, Health, Statements, and Education. Each tab has different features and actions you can take.

While in your myCalPERS account, you can:

  • Designate your beneficiaries
  • Send a secure and confidential message
  • Download publications

Visit our Using myCalPERS page to learn how to register, recover your username and password, and find your CalPERS ID.

There are specific definitions for state, school and public agency members:

  • State members fall into three categories:
    • State miscellaneous members are those employed by the state and universities, who are not involved in law enforcement, fire suppression, and the protection of public safety. For more information, refer to the State Miscellaneous & Industrial Member Benefits (PUB 6) (PDF)
    • State Industrial members are those employed by the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) or its Division of Juvenile Justice other than state safety or peace officers/firefighter members. For more information, refer to the State Miscellaneous & Industrial Member Benefits (PUB 6) (PDF)
    • State Safety includes those involved in law enforcement, fire suppression, the protection of public safety, or who are employed in a position designated by law. For more information, refer to the State Safety Benefits (PUB 7) (PDF)
  • School members must be employed in a classified position within the jurisdiction of a school employer. In some cases, a certificated school employee is also a CalPERS member. These members are subject to CalSTRS coverage, but also eligible to elect to retain their CalPERS membership. This irrevocable election must be made within 60 days of appointment. For more information, refer to the School Member Benefits (PUB 2) (PDF)
  • Public Agency members fall into two categories:
    • Local Miscellaneous members are employed by a public agency or special district that has contracted with CalPERS, and who are not involved in law enforcement, fire suppression, the protection of public safety, etc. For more information, refer to the Local Miscellaneous Member Benefits (PUB 8) (PDF)
    • Local Safety members are employed by a public agency or special district that has contracted with CalPERS, and who are involved in law enforcement, fire suppression, the protection of public safety, or who are employed in a position designated by law as local safety. For more information, refer to the Local Safety Benefits (PUB 9) (PDF)

Reciprocity is an agreement among public retirement systems to allow members to move from one qualified retirement system to another within a specific time limit without losing some valuable retirement and related benefit rights.

For more information visit our Refunds & Reciprocity webpage and read our publication When You Change Retirement Systems (PUB 16) (PDF).

Your retirement formula is based on:

  • Your Classification (i.e., miscellaneous, safety, industrial, or peace officer/firefighter)
  • Your Membership category (i.e., state, school, or public agency employer)
  • Specific provisions in the contract between your employer and us

Here are several examples of retirement formulas:

Classification & Membership Formula
State Miscellaneous & Industrial 2% @ 55
School Members 2% @ 55
Local Miscellaneous 3% @ 60
Safety 3% @ 50
PEPRA Member Miscellaneous 2% @ 62

Your retirement benefit is calculated using a formula, not the amount you contribute. There are three factors that make up this formula:

  1. Service Credit starts with your membership date and is your total years of employment with a CalPERS-covered employer. Service credit is earned on a fiscal year basis, July 1 through June 30. You may only earn 1.000 year of total service credit per fiscal year. If you work less than eight hours per day, it will take you longer to earn a year of service credit. To earn a full year of service credit during a fiscal year, you must work at least:
     
    Employment classification Time required
    Hourly pay employees 1,720 hours
    Daily pay employees 215 days (working full time)
    Monthly pay employees 10 months (working full time)
    • You may be able to purchase Service Credit which may enhance your retirement benefit amount.
    • Annual Member Statement (AMS) is your retirement-related work history that’s reported by your employer. You can log in to your myCalPERS account to download, print or view your statements.
  2. Benefit Factor is the percentage of pay you’ll receive for each year of service credit you earned. It’s determined by your retirement formula and age at retirement. A common misconception is that your benefit will increase indefinitely with age. Once you reach the maximum benefit factor, your benefit will not increase unless you are working and earning service credit.
  3. Final Compensation is your highest average annual compensation during any consecutive 12- or 36-month period of employment. We use your full-time pay rate, not your earnings. If you have a combination of classic and the PEPRA service, we’ll use one final compensation amount for the service earned under your classic service and a second final compensation amount under your Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) service.

There are three types of retirement benefits offered:

  • Service Retirement – This is a normal retirement. You must be age 50, or if first hired after January 1, 2013, age 52 with five years of service credit. There are some exceptions to the five-year requirement. If you’re employed on a part-time basis and have worked at least five years, or you’re also a member of a reciprocal retirement system, contact us to find out if an exception applies to you.
  • Disability Retirement – If you have a disabling illness or injury that prevents you from doing the usual duties of your job, you may be eligible for disability retirement. There’s no age requirement, but you must have at least five years of service credit.
  • Industrial Disability Retirement – This type of disability retirement is available to safety members such as police officers and firefighters and only those classifications contracted for this benefit. There are no age or service credit requirements, but the disability must be job related.

Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA)

The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) took effect January 1, 2013. PEPRA changed the way CalPERS retirement and health benefits are applied, and placed compensation limits on members.

CalPERS Power of Attorney

It's important to have a CalPERS Special Power of Attorney on file. This allows you to designate a representative or agent, known as your attorney-in-fact, to conduct your retirement affairs with us.

Our health benefits are available to most State of California and California State University (CSU) employees. Public agency and schools must contract with us to offer this benefit.

There are basic requirements that you must meet to be eligible to enroll in a CalPERS health benefits:

  • Work for an employer who has contracted with CalPERS to administer their health benefits program
  • Have a permanent or limited term appointment that will last more than six months and one day
  • Work at least half time or more unless otherwise stated in your health contract

For more information, you can also refer to our Health Program Guide (HBD-120) (PDF).

State and CSU employees may be eligible for dental & vision benefits. Active public agency and school employees should check with their employers.

For state employees, use the CalHR Benefit Calculator to calculate out of pocket costs for health, dental and vision benefits.

Deferred Compensation Plans - Your CalPERS pension may not be enough to support your lifestyle in retirement. Savings can become an important factor to bridge the gap. Check with your employer to find out about what deferred compensation plans are available to you.

There are Pre-Retirement Death Benefits that may be payable to beneficiaries upon the death of an active member based on the employer contract. These benefits may range from a return of contributions and interest to a monthly allowance.

  • Lump sum death benefits are paid according to the valid beneficiary designation on file. Your death benefits can be paid either to your designated beneficiary or by statutory law.
  • Monthly death benefits are paid to your eligible survivor.

A beneficiary is any person you choose to receive either a one-time lump sum payment or an ongoing monthly benefit upon your death and is not determined by law.

To designate a beneficiary, log in to your myCalPERS account or complete the Pre-Retirement Lump Sum Beneficiary Designation (PDF) form.

A survivor is defined by law. State law determines who, if anyone, is eligible to receive your benefits as a survivor. Your survivor and beneficiary can be the same person, but they don’t have to be. Your survivors are:

  • A spouse or registered domestic partner*
  • Unmarried children under age 18 or 22**
  • Unmarried child who is certified disabled prior to age 18 and continues to be disabled
  • Dependent parents

* To be eligible for any type of monthly pre-retirement death benefit, you and your spouse or registered domestic partner must be married or registered before the occurrence of the injury or onset of the illness that resulted in the death, or for at least one year prior to your death.

**Unmarried children can receive the 1959 Survivor Benefit until the age of 22. Review your member publication in Forms & Publications

Other Resources