Retirement Benefits

Start Building Your Dream Retirement

Retirement planning can be like building a home. With patience, planning, and the right materials, you can construct a comfortable shelter for your post-retirement life.

But where do you get the blueprints needed to build a successful career and retirement? What tools do you need now to start laying a strong retirement foundation?

By understanding how to start designing your dream retirement today, you can ensure you make the most out of your golden years.

Laying a Solid Foundation

Just as blueprints and surveying are useful to design your ideal home, planning your ideal retirement requires the same level of care and forethought. Do you see yourself traveling? Would you like to save for a family member’s college fund? Having an idea of your post-retirement goals early on can help build a solid foundation upon which the rest of your retirement sits.

We offer numerous resources to help create your retirement foundation. Take online, self-paced courses tailored to your career stage on various topics, such as how your pension is calculated, and how you can apply for retirement. You can also attend our CalPERS Benefits Education Events (CBEEs) throughout the year, including upcoming virtual events.

Check out our tips to Building a Strong Financial Future for you and your partner to determine questions to ask as you plan life together. By having these conversations early, you can make sure you’re planning your retirement on a stable foundation.

Acquiring Building Materials

Once you have laid a strong foundation, you need to identify and invest in materials to construct your ideal retirement home. Just as drywall, wood, cement, and steel each come with different purposes and benefits, your defined benefit pension, Social Security, and personal savings will come into play during your retirement.

Another option to supplement your retirement is our deferred compensation saving plans. These allow you to save pre-tax or after-tax money from your paycheck. Depending on your employer, you may be eligible for deferred compensation plans such as:

  • CalPERS 457 Plan
  • Supplemental Contributions Plan
  • State Peace Officers’ & Firefighters Supplemental Plan
  • 403(b) plans
  • Savings Plus

Identifying the building materials of your retirement would not be complete without considering Social Security. Social Security can provide an additional income source to your retirement; however, your CalPERS pension may affect these benefits. Visit the Social Security & Your CalPERS Pension page to see the relationship between the two benefits. You can also contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or visit the SSA website.

Constructing Your Retirement

Now that the design is in place, and you’ve identified building materials, it’s time to continue the construction of your retirement. Your public service career is the biggest factor impacting your retirement, as total years of service and your highest monthly salary both impact your final pension amount. The longer you work, the higher your service credit, and ultimately, your benefit amount will be.

One of the first milestones in constructing your career and working toward service retirement is vesting. Vesting, or ownership in your retirement plan, means you must reach a certain age and have enough qualifying years to be eligible to collect your pension. To explore vesting scenarios and other related factors, check out our vesting article.

At key stages in your career, you may want to ensure you’re prepared for life’s ups and downs. This means keeping your health and retirement benefits in good hands through the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney. By completing this form, you can designate and dictate the specific powers you wish to give your attorney-in-fact should you be unable to manage your affairs.

Putting on the Final Touches

By now, your retirement home is almost complete. You’ve established a stable foundation using solid building materials and constructed a public service career to be proud of. It’s almost time to move in and enjoy this new stage of your life.

With this transition on the horizon, we provide resources to help finalize your retirement details.

Although your retirement won’t come with all the sights, sounds, and smells of a newly constructed home, it can bring the same excitement and durability. By taking advantage of the resources here, you can ensure you’re on firm footing for retirement.