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Retirement Planning


Retirement Planning for Inactive Members

Preparing for retirement doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that should start well in advance of your anticipated retirement date. 

To learn more about retirement eligibility and benefits, you can jump-start the retirement planning process by reading SamCERA’s Guide to Your SamCERA Benefits

Some other things you should consider:

  • Check your years of service credit and get a retirement estimate through MySamCERA. It’s fast, easy, and secure!
  • Contact SamCERA for help with the retirement process. Our staff can be reached through the Contact page.

And don’t stop here. Plan ahead carefully so you can make your financial decisions on your own terms. You may also want to contact a financial planning professional to help you prepare for retirement. 

Additional Considerations for Inactive Members Thinking About Retirement

There are some important things inactive members should know about getting ready to retire. 


Let SamCERA know if you have established reciprocity with another public employer. If you moved between California public retirement systems, you may be eligible for reciprocity. Reciprocity can affect your SamCERA benefit if you worked for a reciprocal system before coming to SamCERA, or after leaving SamCERA. Contact SamCERA if you think you might be eligible, even if you never established reciprocity. Establishing reciprocity takes time, so contact SamCERA right away.

You will have to retire concurrently from all reciprocal systems.

See the Reciprocity page for more.


Your SamCERA account is subject to California community property law, so if you had a divorce while you were an active or inactive member of SamCERA, or if you are filing for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, you must contact SamCERA.

You will not be able to complete the retirement process or receive retirement benefits until SamCERA receives and approves a Court order regarding the division of your SamCERA benefits.

Additionally, if you are currently married and get a divorce after you retire, you will need to contact SamCERA.

Visit SamCERA’s Divorce page for more information.

Social Security 

Former employees of Safety, Probation and the Mosquito and Vector Control District that did not contribute to Social Security, should be aware of the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset. Learn more on SamCERA’s Windfall Elimination page and Social Security’s official website.

If you are a member of Plan 3, SamCERA will need a Social Security estimate before you can retire. This is because your benefits are calculated based on an equation that involves your Social Security benefit.

The Plan 3 page of this website has more information. 

Your Retirement Is Not Automatic

In order to retire, you need to fill out a retirement application. SamCERA does not “automatically” begin sending you a benefit check when you reach full retirement age, or any other milestone. (Exception: Inactive members will be automatically retired in April of the year they turn 72 years old.) Contact SamCERA for more details.