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Your Contributions Are Deducted From Your Salary

The money you pay towards your SamCERA benefits is called your “member contribution.” Your contributions are structured as a percentage of your bi-weekly earnings (also called your “contribution rate”), and are collected through automatic payroll deductions.

In addition to these rates, certain members pay additional contributions in the form of a “cost share” and a “COLA share.” The cost share is a contribution which helps offset the plan costs. The COLA share helps fund future cost of living adjustments to your retirement benefits. Your pay stub will reflect all of the contributions you are making to SamCERA.

Your Contributions Are Kept in a Separate Account

Your contributions are held in trust by SamCERA. A separate account is created in your name and all the contributions that you make (and any employer pick-ups of your contributions) are deposited in this account. Interest is credited to your account on June 30 and December 31 of each year at a rate determined by the Board of Retirement.

You cannot borrow money from your account at any time, and you cannot withdraw your employer’s contributions under any circumstances. The only way you can take money out of SamCERA is to terminate your employment and take a refund of your contributions and interest. If you do that, you lose all rights to your benefits.

The Amount of Your Contributions is Based on Your Contribution Rate

Your contribution rate varies depending on your plan. The rates are established by law, based in part on actuarial assumptions, and are adjusted annually based upon recommendations by SamCERA’s actuary.  And, as described at the top of this page, in addition to these rates, certain members also pay contributions in the form of a “cost share” and a “COLA share.”

If you are among the small percentage of SamCERA members in Plan 3, there are no member contributions. This plan typically provides the lowest retirement benefits, and is closed to new members.

You can find the latest contribution rates below.


Compensation Limits for 2024
Learn about updated compensation limits in 2024 for Plan 7 members, and the 2024 IRS compensation limit for members hired after July 1, 1996.

“Compensation limits” do not refer to restrictions on the amount of salary your employer can pay you.  Rather, this term refers the maximum amount of compensation SamCERA can take into account when determining your contributions and calculating your monthly pension benefit under your retirement plan.