Retirement Benefits

10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Your Retirement Checks

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Congratulations! If you’re reading this article you’ve probably retired or are soon-to-be—but you may have questions about your retirement checks. Read the list below to find the answers.

1. Once I retire, when will I get my first retirement check?

That depends on your retirement date and when your final documents are received and processed. In most cases, your first check will be issued within 30-45 days of your retirement date or the date your retirement application was received, whichever is later.

2. What date do retirement checks come?

Benefits are paid at the beginning of the month for the previous month’s benefits. For tax reasons, your December retirement check is always dated the first day of the new year. View 2020 Retirement Check Pay Dates.

3. When can I enroll in direct deposit?

You can sign up at any time. To enroll online, log in to myCalPERS, go to the Retirement tab, and select Payment Options. To enroll by mail, complete the Direct Deposit Authorization (PDF).

4. How do I opt in to receive direct deposit statements by mail?

To opt in to receive paper statements, you can log in to myCalPERS and update your mailing preference or contact us with your request.

We will continue to electronically transmit your benefit payment to your financial institution.

5. Can someone else establish direct deposit for me?

Your attorney-in-fact (someone you designate by special power of attorney) can establish direct deposit. We’ll need a copy of the power of attorney authorizing that person to act on your behalf. Review A Guide to the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney (PUB 30) (PDF) to learn more.

6. My address has changed, so what do I need to do to make sure I get my check?

If you have your monthly benefit payment mailed to your home, notify us of your new address as soon as possible. Use one of the options below to let us know:

  • Change your address online by logging in to myCalPERS.
  • Contact us by phone at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377).
  • Download, complete, and return an Address Change Authorization (PDF) form by mailing or faxing it to the number shown on the form.
  • Send us your new address in writing to:
    Retirement Benefit Services Division
    P.O. Box 942716
    Sacramento, CA 94229-2716

7. What are the deductions I see on my retirement check?

Deductions on your retirement check can vary. Some are automatic, such as those for health benefits, or liens and levies related to Internal Revenue Service or State Franchise Tax Board actions. Optional deductions are member-authorized for payments to organizations that have agreements on file with us, such as life insurance premiums, union dues, or charitable contributions. If you have a question about any of the deductions you are seeing on your retirement check, contact us.

8. How can I change my tax withholding?

Because your tax situation can change from year to year, you may want to adjust the federal or California state withholding amounts deducted from your monthly benefit payment.

There are two ways to change your tax withholding:

  • Log in to myCalPERS and select Tax Withholdings from the Home tab.
  • Complete a Tax Withholding Election (PDF) form and mail or fax it to:
    P.O. Box 942715
    Sacramento, CA 94229-2715
    Fax: (800) 959-6545

9. What if I close my account and forget to notify CalPERS?

Once you realize this has happened, contact us immediately. If the financial institution has already returned your deposit, we’ll send a replacement check to your mailing address. If the check has not yet been returned, we’ll monitor and mail you a check once the funds are returned.

10. Will I get a cost-of-living adjustment this year?

Your Cost-of-Living-Adjustment, or COLA, is a benefit to ensure the value of money at retirement keeps up with the rate of inflation. The 2020 COLA was announced in late February and took effect on your May 1 retirement check.

Update: This article was edited for clarity on May 27, 2020.