A major financial decision requires a thoughtful approach. When you permanently leave CalPERS-covered employment you have options regarding your member contributions in your account. You can:
- Take a refund.
- Rollover to a qualified IRA or employer plan.
- Leave your contributions in your account.
Here is a more detailed look at each of those options.
Take a Refund
Taking a refund means you’ll receive your contributions plus interest, but not any employer contributions. Taking a refund also ends your CalPERS membership and benefits, which means you lose the right to receive a service or disability retirement benefit.
California law doesn’t allow you to take a partial refund or borrow against your accumulated contributions and interest on your account. Funds in your CalPERS account are paid in full upon completion of the refund process.
Also, a refund will be taxed as income unless you roll it over into a qualified deferred retirement account. (Find information on rolling over your funds in the next section.)
We want to reiterate: Since the consequences can impact your future retirement income, you should carefully consider your decision. A refund is irrevocable, meaning once it’s processed, you’ll be unable to change or cancel the distribution.
We have a list of items to consider and more information on taking a refund on our Refund Member Contributions webpage.
Additionally, before you apply, you might want to access your myCalPERS account to determine if you may instead be eligible to retire and receive a lifetime monthly benefit.
Roll to a Qualified IRA or Employer Plan
Rolling over your funds to an eligible individual retirement account (IRA) or another qualified employer retirement plan is another option to consider—and you won’t have to pay taxes until after you receive payments later. In addition, the 10% additional income tax will not apply if those payments are made after you are age 59½ (or if an exception to the 10% additional income tax applies).
Leave the Contributions
With this option, your membership and service credit remain intact, and the funds can continue to generate interest until you retire or return to work for a CalPERS-covered employer.
You can still receive a retirement benefit if you later meet the minimum retirement eligibility requirements or you may also choose to leave the contributions on deposit until the year you reach age 73, when you must receive a refund or a retirement benefit under federal required minimum distribution regulations.
If you’d like to further explore these options, you can call a us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) , or Make an Appointment to visit one of our regional offices to speak with a CalPERS expert in person.
What’s more, if you’re changing retirement plans, reciprocity will allow you to move from one retirement system to another without losing your benefits. Visit our Reciprocity webpage for more information.