Retirement Benefits Health Benefits

Top 7 Member Questions Answered by Our Experts

Listening to members, employers, and stakeholders is at the heart of what we do. This priority took center stage at January’s Stakeholder Forum where our expert panel answered top questions received from members like you.

Deputy Executive Officer of Customer Services and Support Kim Malm moderated the discussion and led a panel of division chiefs who oversee the contact center and employer accounts. “Every day, CalPERS receives questions from members and works to deliver solutions,” Malm noted. “A key part of our 2022-27 Strategic Plan is member experience and continuing to provide outstanding service and support to our members and beneficiaries.”

In case you missed them, here are the top seven member questions received from our customer service team in 2023, and our answers.

1. Why Didn’t I Receive my Retirement Check?

The top question our Customer Services and Support team receives is why a retirement warrant (paycheck) doesn’t arrive on time. A few factors can impact the timely delivery of your check:

If previous checks are not cashed, or are being delivered to an incorrect mailing address, a hold will be placed on that account until the issue is resolved. Closing a bank account without updating your information with us can also impact the regular delivery of your retirement warrants.

Retirees who haven’t received a check by the sixth of the month can call 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377), or visit our Retirement Checks page to help keep your retirement checks delivered on time.

We offer many options for you to view your retirement check. You can view your check through our new mobile app or through the automated phone system.

2. What Amount Can I Expect in Retirement — and for How Long?

The good news is your retirement allowance won’t run out since it’s a lifetime benefit.

Most of the questions we receive are about how to calculate your retirement benefit. You can access the Retirement Estimate Calculator to give you a clearer picture of your pension based on your information. This tool is also available in your myCalPERS account and includes this helpful quick tip video, as well as our How to Create a Retirement Estimate (PDF) tutorial.

Using these tools, you can plan around scenarios such as ages to retire at, plus any survivors or beneficiaries, and understand how these scenarios will affect your monthly allowance. Within a year from your retirement, you can request a formal retirement estimate through your myCalPERS account.

“Because this is such an important decision for you, your dependents, and your families, we strongly encourage you to also make an appointment with our Regional Office,” noted Carene George, our Customer Experience Division chief. “They’re the experts to help you make the best choice.”

3. How Do I Access myCalPERS?

For retirees and active members, myCalPERS remains the primary gateway to access information, submit documents, and review details about your pension or health benefits. Our Using myCalPERS guide helps you take advantage of this platform, as well as resolve issues related to logging in, registering, recovering a username, and more.

You also have access to a series of videos for both active and inactive members, as well as retirees, beneficiaries and survivors. Use these tools to get the most from your myCalPERS account.

4. How Do I Take Advantage of Health Benefits into Retirement?

One of the biggest benefits to your CalPERS membership is the health benefits available to retirees. To be sure you’re eligible for a CalPERS-administered health plan as a retiree, you must meet all the following criteria:

  • Be eligible for health coverage upon separation of employment
  • Retire from an employer that contracts with CalPERS for health benefits
  • Receive a monthly CalPERS retirement allowance
  • Retire within 120 days of the date of your separation of employment

Explore page 20 of our Planning Your Service Retirement (PDF) guide for further information on how health benefits are applied in your retirement. For more resources on coordinating CalPERS health coverage with Medicare, you can access our CalPERS Medicare Enrollment Guide (PDF).

5. What Is Dependent Eligibility Verification and How Does it Work?

Dependent Eligibility Verification (DEV) is the process of reverifying the eligibility of a member’s dependents who are receiving health coverage through them. These can include your:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Children or stepchildren
  • Domestic partner’s dependents enrolled in our medical or dental benefits

The eligibility of any dependents you claim will be reverified every three years, with cycles determined by the member’s birthdate. You can visit our Dependent Eligibility Verification page for more details on required documents and your Dependent Verification Affidavit form.

If you’re retired, materials may be submitted electronically through your myCalPERS account. Additional information is also available on page 8 of our CalPERS Health Program Guide (PDF).

6. Is December 31 the Best Day to Retire?

Your service retirement is often one of the most important decisions of your life. Key considerations include when to retire, your retirement lifestyle, and how much it will cost.

“The December 31 date is popular because it’s related to the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, which is payable on May 1 of the second calendar year after you retire,” noted Carene George, chief of our Customer Experience Division.

One day can make a big difference. If your retirement date is December 31, 2024, you would receive your first COLA in May 2026. If you retire instead on January 1, 2025, that single day’s difference can delay your eligibility by up to one year, and you wouldn’t receive your first COLA until May 2027.

For more information on planning your service retirement, you can consult this guide to successful retirement (PDF) and check out our COLA calculator page.

7. Do I Need to Complete a CalPERS Power of Attorney Form?

Are you a member with existing power of attorney arrangements, or are you curious about how to submit the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney form? We know how important it is to make sure your retirement and benefits are in good hands — that’s why we strongly recommend that every CalPERS member complete the Special Power of Attorney form.

The form is available online, along with options to learn about the benefits of the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney form and how to customize it to best fit your needs. In addition, we recommend watching our Power of Attorney video to help you complete or update your form.

CalPERS works hard to help members navigate their retirement and health benefits. We provide several ways to get in touch or request additional information to help answer your questions. Use our Contact form to reach us through the CalPERS website, log in to myCalPERS and send your questions through our secure Message Center, or call us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) to speak with a specialist.