Retirement Benefits

Top 4 Questions About the Retirement Process Answered

We met with our retirement application processing team to uncover the answers to four of the most popular questions that come up during the retirement process.

1. How does Social Security impact my benefit calculation?

If your employer withheld Social Security taxes (also called being coordinated with Social Security) from your paycheck, you may be subject to a one-time Social Security offset. This means we’ll reduce your final compensation by $133.33 before your retirement benefit is calculated. This is a one-time reduction and is done before your monthly pension is calculated. The reduction is not applied as a monthly reduction to your pension. For example, if your final compensation is $3,133.33, we would use $3,000.00 in your retirement calculation.

You can find more details and resources on our Social Security & Your CalPERS Pension webpage.

2. What’s used to calculate my benefit?

While many soon-to-be retirees think their earnings are what’s used to calculate their benefits, this isn’t correct. It’s your pay rate that’s used. What’s the difference? Your earnings are your take home pay after deductions, while your pay rate is your gross pay prior to deductions.

You can see an estimate of your retirement benefit right now. Log in to myCalPERS to do an estimate using the latest data we have on record. You can create and save multiple estimates.

3. Why is the estimate I received different than my final benefit?

There could be many reasons. Perhaps, you’re receiving longevity pay from your employer. Or, maybe you’ve received shift differential pay because you’ve worked outside your normal hours. If these special compensation cases aren’t reported by your agency’s payroll at the time the estimate is run, they won’t be included in your projection.

4. I submitted my application three months in advance. Why didn’t I receive my benefits my first month as a retiree?

It will depend on the retirement date you selected. It’s recommended to submit your retirement application three to four months prior to your retirement date. However, keep in mind that even if you submit your application this far in advance, we pay in arrears. This means if you retire on November 1, you won’t receive November’s retirement check until December 1.

If you’ve submitted your retirement application less than three to four months in advance, your first payment can be expected approximately 30-45 days from the retirement date or application received date, whichever is later. Around two weeks after your application has been processed, we’ll send you a First Payment Acknowledgement letter, which includes the date you’ll receive your first retirement check, the amount you can expect to receive, and income tax information.

Start Planning Now

If you’re a year away from retirement, review our Retirement Planning Checklist to make sure you’re on the right track. You’ll find links to educational information and important resources, including our retirement publications and videos.