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Retirement Issues for California’s Community Colleges & K-12 School Districts

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Public Education
CATEGORY: Public Education, Retirement Issues

Public sector pensions are increasingly in the spotlight. This is proven by recent legislation and litigation. News stories, magazine articles, court cases, and even ballot initiatives, all discussing the state of public sector pensions. Are they too lucrative? Are they sustainable? Are defined benefits a good idea? All questions that are being debated in the court of public opinion, especially as public agencies struggle with increasing deficits and decreasing revenues. How to address these increasing costs can be a workbook in and itself. However, before an agency can look at making changes to benefits, it needs to understand the dynamics of a pension system and some of the unique legal issues involving pension benefits.

This workbook discusses the basics of participating in pension plans administered by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (“PERS” or “CalPERS”) and the State Teachers Retirement System (“STRS”). Included are discussions on who can participate in these pension plans, membership in pension systems, creditable service, how benefits are calculated and terminating post-retirement benefits.

Although this workbook discusses some of the most common issues that come up when discussing pension issues, it is not intended as a comprehensive treatise in this area. Given the complex nature of pension laws and the unique nature of individual benefits and systems, agencies should consult with legal counsel before making any changes to benefits or benefit administration.

Topics Include:

  • Membership
    • CalPERS Membership
    • STRS Membership
  • Determining Pension Benefits
    • Retirement Formulas
    • Final Compensation
    • Service Credit
    • Reciprocity and Electing Between Retirement Systems
    • Restrictions On Out-Of-Class Appointments for CalPERS Contracting Agencies
  • Contributions to Pension Plans
    • Contributions for CalPERS Members and Employers
    • Contributions for STRS Members and Employers
    • Supplemental Retirement Plans
  • Service Retirement
  • Disability Retirement
    • Eligibility
    • Does the Member Qualify?
    • Applying for Disability
    • After the Application is Accepted or Denied
  • Employment After Retirement
    • Reinstatement After Retirement
    • Employment Without Reinstatement
  • Early Retirement Incentives
    • ADEA and FEHA Compliant Incentives
    • Preparing Enforceable ADEA Waivers in Connection with an Early Retirement Incentive
    • “Golden Handshake” for CalPERS Members
    • “Golden Handshake” for STRS Members
  • Modification of Retirement Benefits
    • General Principles of Vesting
  • Under Finite Conditions
  • Retiree Medical and Other Post-Employment Benefits
    • General Principles of Retiree Medical Benefits
    • PEMHCA Participants
    • STRS Medicare Premium Payment Program
    • Accounting For OPEBs & Pre-Funding

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