Retirement Benefits

When Will I Get My Pension Money?

Senior woman reviews medical record information

Soon-to-be retirees, now that you’ve officially submitted your retirement application, view our Q&A for answers to your questions about when to expect your retirement payment and more.

1. When will I get my first retirement check?

That depends on your retirement date and when your final documents are received and processed by us. The first payment is typically paid 45 calendar days from your retirement date or the date your application is received, whichever is later. Because each case is different, contact us to know exactly when your first check will be sent.

2. What date do retirement checks come?

Benefits are paid at the beginning of the month for the previous month’s benefits. For tax reasons, your December retirement check is always dated the first day of the new year. View 2022 Retirement Check Pay Dates. If you haven’t received your check by the sixth of each month, or if you believe it was lost or stolen, contact us.

Note: Due to COVID-19, the State Controller’s Office won’t be printing and mailing statements for payees who are enrolled in direct deposit until further notice. If you need to view and/or print duplicate statements, log in to your myCalPERS account to access your statements. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

3. Can I find out in advance how much my retirement payment will be?

You can view your most current month’s retirement check online by logging in to myCalPERS. You can also view previous retirement or benefit check statements going back five years.

4. Should I be prepared for any adjustments to my retirement benefit?

Your retirement benefit is calculated using the payroll and service on your account as of your retirement date. It’s normal for additional payroll, including sick leave, to come in after we’ve processed your initial benefit. This means your First Payment Acknowledgment letter, Account Detail sheet, and monthly benefit may be lower than what you were expecting until final payroll shows on your account.

Adjustments to your retirement benefit take up to four months to process and are retroactive to your retirement date.

5. Is my retirement benefit tax-free?

Monthly retirement benefit payments are treated as ordinary income. Unless you specify the income tax withholding election you want applied to your benefit, federal and/or California state income tax will be withheld from your benefit payment as the default filing status defined in the tax form instructions. Currently the default income tax withheld is based on the rate of a married person with three exemptions (PDF).

For tax reporting purposes, the IRS requires us to report disability retirements the same as service retirements. Only industrial death benefits and industrial disability retirement benefits with no excess income taxable percentage qualify for the Internal Revenue Code tax benefit (IRC section 104(a)(1)).

6. How can I change my tax withholding?

There are two ways to change your tax withholding:

Log in to myCalPERS and select Tax Withholdings from the Home tab.

Complete a Tax Withholding Election (PDF) form and mail or fax it to:
CalPERS
P.O. Box 942715
Sacramento, CA 94229-2715
Fax: (800) 959-6545

7. Will I get a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)?

Your retirement date affects how soon you can receive a COLA increase. Retirees typically receive an annual COLA paid on the May 1 benefit payment. The law says retirees receive their first COLA in their second calendar year of retirement. That means if you retired in 2022, you’ll get your first COLA in May 2024. If you retire next year—2023—you won’t see your first COLA until May 2025.

Important!

Separation from employment alone is not considered retirement. You must submit a retirement election application to complete the retirement process and be eligible to collect your retirement benefit.

You must stop working in all CalPERS-covered employment before your retirement date, including all full-time and part-time positions and any elected or appointed offices for which you have CalPERS membership.

It’s your responsibility to inform every CalPERS employer of your planned retirement date so each employer can submit permanent separation information on your behalf. If your employer does not submit separation information to us and you continue working, you may be considered unlawfully employed. This unlawful employment can result in termination of your retirement allowance and require you to repay overpaid retirement benefits.