Retirement Benefits

What Happens to Your Pension When You Leave CalPERS Employment?

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Regardless of the reason you separate, when you permanently leave CalPERS-covered employment you have options regarding the contributions in your account.

  • Take a lump-sum refund or rollover.
  • Leave the contributions and interest in your account.

Take a Lump-Sum Refund or Rollover

This option includes your contributions plus interest, but not any employer contributions. It also ends your CalPERS membership and benefits, which means you lose the right to receive a service or disability retirement benefit.

When your employer notifies us of your separation from employment, we’ll mail you Options at Separation (PDF). Then you can apply for a refund online through your myCalPERS account. Applying online is secure, fast, and convenient. You can also provide your direct deposit information as part of your application to secure your funds and receive them quickly. Simply log in to your myCalPERS account and follow the steps provided.

You may roll over your funds to an eligible individual retirement account (IRA) or another qualified employer retirement plan.

Since the consequences can impact your future retirement income, you should carefully consider your decision.

Leave the Contributions

Your membership and service credit remain intact and the funds can continue to generate interest. You can still receive a retirement benefit if you later meet the minimum retirement eligibility requirements, or you may choose to leave the contributions on deposit until the year you reach age 72, when you must receive a refund or a retirement benefit under federal required minimum distribution regulations, unless you’re working with a reciprocal agency.

Move to Another California Public Employer

If you’re moving from one CalPERS-covered employer to another, you may not withdraw your retirement contributions. You must permanently terminate your CalPERS membership to receive a return of retirement contributions.

If you’re moving to a position covered under a reciprocal retirement system, you may not be able to withdraw your retirement contributions. This includes agencies such as:

  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System
  • Counties with retirement systems under the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937
  • Judges’ Retirement System
  • Judges’ Retirement System II
  • Legislators’ Retirement System
  • University of California Retirement Plan

For more information about your rights and responsibilities, read When You Change Retirement Systems (PUB 16) (PDF). And watch our Early Career Basics video to learn more about what happens if you leave your employer. You can find additional resources by visiting Refunds & Reciprocity and Member Education on our website.