Active Safety Member FAQs
A: The SFERS pension is a defined benefit plan. Under the law that governs defined benefit plans, there are no loan or withdrawal provisions. If you participate in a defined contribution plan such as the City’s 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan (SFDCP), provisions for loans, emergency, and/or hardship withdrawals may be included. Check with your plan provider for details.
A: The service you purchased as a non-safety member is credited to you under the miscellaneous plan. When you retire from the safety plan, the miscellaneous service will entitle you to a separate benefit calculated according to the miscellaneous provisions, but using your safety compensation. If you are not entitled to receive a miscellaneous benefit, your contributions and interest will be refunded to you.
A: SFERS does not calculate service for retirement purposes for any periods of employment during which you are on “unpaid leave” status and/or are not receiving a salary from the City.
A: Only service rendered with the City and County of San Francisco as a member in the safety (police and fire) plans is credited to you as safety service with SFERS. You may choose to either 1) leave the prior safety service with the prior plan, or 2) if your contributions were refunded to you, you may elect to purchase the service under the other plan as a “public service” with SFERS. Once the purchase is complete, the service will be credited to you as a service under the SFERS Miscellaneous Plan (provided you have other credited services under the miscellaneous plan with SFERS). Please note, if you took a refund, we recommend you inquire with the prior plan about opportunities for redeposit with that plan.
A: You can find the formula to calculate an estimate of your retirement benefit in the Summary of Key Plan Provisions corresponding to the SFERS Plan to which you belong. Or, you may register for and log in to mySFERS to calculate an estimate of your benefit utilizing the benefits estimate calculator.
A: The earliest you can retire voluntarily for service is on or after attaining age 50 and upon meeting the qualifications for service retirement. You may apply for ordinary disability retirement for non-job-related illness or injury regardless of age if you have at least 10 years of credited service. You may apply for industrial disability retirement for job-related illness or injury regardless of age or credited service. Refer to your Summary of Key Plan Provisions for detailed retirement qualifications.
A: You can initiate a disability retirement by scheduling a counseling session with an SFERS Retirement Counselor. To schedule a counseling appointment, log in to mySFERS to access the online Retirement Appointment Scheduler. The length of time it takes to approve your application depends on how quickly the supporting documents are received, the evidence and facts reviewed, and all issues pertaining to your disability are resolved.
A: For information about eligibility for health benefits during retirement contact the City’s Health Services System (HSS) directly at (628) 652-4700, or visit the HSS website at www.sfhss.org. HSS administers health and dental benefits for active and retired SFERS members.
A: Your first retirement check will be issued 30-45 days after the latter of 1) your application date, 2) your retirement date, or 3) the date of your last payroll check. SFERS must receive all earnings and contributions data through your last day of work to begin the calculation of your retirement benefit.
A: Pension payments are always issued on the last day of each month. The allowance covers the period from the first day of the month to the last day of the month.
Login to mySFERS and you can review your beneficiaries on the beneficiary dashboard.
A: A disabled child may be eligible to receive a monthly allowance upon your death if the provisions of the Retirement Board Policy Regarding Qualification for Benefits for Dependent Adult Child or Dependent Parent Continuation Benefits are met. Contact SFERS by email at [email protected] for a copy of the policy.
A: Yes, but members must allow for delays and SFERS cannot guarantee prompt delivery of your check.
A: The difference between these two dates can have a big effect on your retirement benefits over time. Members who retire on July 1st are eligible for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) to their pension when payable, effective on July 1st. Members who retire on July 2nd are not eligible to receive the COLA that was effective on the preceding July 1st because they were not retired on July 1st. Retiring on July 1 vs. July 2 may also impact the calculation of your lump-sum payouts from your department. You should inquire with your payroll department about this matter.
A: To view and print a verification of your account balance, log in to mySFERS and select “Account Balance Verification” under the Profile tab. You may also request a verification of your account balance by email at [email protected]. To protect the privacy of our members, we do not provide account information to third parties (such as a mortgage company or financial institution) and we do not accept requests by fax, e-mail, or telephone.
A: SFERS credits service to you as it is purchased. The service you are purchasing will be reflected on your Annual Member Statement once the purchase is complete.
A: While on suspension without pay, you do not receive credit for retirement service. You may contact SFERS at the end of the suspension to inquire about the overall effect in credited service for the particular fiscal year(s). You cannot purchase service for a suspension period.
A: Under SFERS’ Reciprocity provisions you must terminate from the current plan, and within six (6) months after your termination date, become a member of the new plan. Concurrent membership (whether on paid or unpaid status from any of the reciprocal plans through your separation date) will disqualify your eligibility for reciprocity. Refer to “Reciprocity” on the SFERS website for additional information about qualifying for reciprocity.
A: The most convenient way to get an estimate of your retirement benefit is to register for the secure member portal mySFERS and utilize the benefits estimate calculator to calculate an estimate of your benefit…it takes just minutes. However, if you are currently qualified for service retirement or, are otherwise eligible to retire for service within one year of the date of your request, you can request an estimate of your SFERS benefit by completing and returning to SFERS a Retirement Estimate Request Form (refer to your Summary of Key Plan Provisions for service retirement qualifications). Normally, you will receive the estimate within eight weeks of SFERS’ receipt of your request.
A: You can initiate the application process for service retirement by scheduling a counseling session with an SFERS Retirement Counselor. Schedule your session to take place at least three months prior to your desired retirement date. To schedule a counseling appointment, log in to mySFERS to access the online Retirement Appointment Scheduler, or contact us by email at [email protected] at least six (6) months prior to your desired retirement date. According to Retirement Board policy, your retirement date may be on or after the first day of the month in which you file your application with SFERS.
A: SFERS does not pay your lump-sum entitlements. SFERS will notify your department once you have applied for retirement. Your department will process your lump-sum entitlements according to department procedure.
A: Since each case concerning community property is unique, you will need to contact SFERS at (415) 487-7065 to discuss your individual situation.
A: Your pension will be paid to you throughout your lifetime.
A: You may designate any person or persons, your estate or a trust as your beneficiary. You can find additional information on beneficiaries in your Summary of Key Plan Provisions.
A: A “beneficiary” is a person or persons, trust, or estate that you designate to receive a lump-sum death benefit upon your death. A “qualified survivor” is a person that your SFERS plan provisions define as eligible to receive a monthly continuation allowance upon your death. Refer to “Survivor Benefits” under your membership group, or your Summary of Key Plan Provisions for more details.
A: To change your address, you must contact the Human Resources or Payroll Officer in your department. The address information SFERS collects for member communications comes directly from each department’s payroll division.
A: Your pension benefit can only be deposited electronically in a US financial institution. You will need to verify with the bank in the country where you plan to reside whether it has an affiliation with a US financial institution where your benefit can be deposited and accessed by you from the country in which you will reside.
A: Yes. Once you have retired from the City you can work for any employer other than the City with limited restrictions. If you return to work for the City, you are limited to working no more than 960 hours in any fiscal year without affecting your pension benefit. If you are under age 50 on your effective retirement date, you must wait a minimum of 60 days after your retirement date before you can begin employment with the City as a retired employee. Certain employment restrictions apply to disability retirees. For additional information about “work after retirement” provisions, refer to your Summary of Key Plan Provisions and the Normal Retirement Age and Bona-Fide Separation Retirement Board Policies.