Separation occurs when you leave employment with your SFERS-covered position before you are qualified to retire for service. When you separate, you have three options for your accumulated contributions: Vesting, Reciprocity, or refund.
Safety Separation Benefits
Below are the separation benefits for Safety Plans: New Plan Tier III – A8.604 (Fire) & A8.605 (Police), New Plan Tier II – A8.601 (Fire) & A8.602 (Police), and New Plan Tier I – A8.597 (Police) & A8.598 (Fire).
|Qualifications to Elect Vesting||– Any Age|
– Five years or more of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s)
– Leave your contributions on account with SFERS
– Select “Vest in Retirement Account” at separation
|Qualifying Age to Apply for Vesting Benefit||Age 50|
|Vesting Benefit Calculation||Credited Service x Age Factor x Average Monthly Pensionable Compensation|
|Qualifications to Elect Reciprocity||– Separate from employment with a reciprocal plan|
– Become a member of SFERS within 6 months after your separation date
– Separate from employment with SFERS
– Select “Reciprocity” at separation
– Become a member of a reciprocal plan within 6 months after your separation date
|Qualifications to Elect a Refund||– Less than five years of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s)|
– Five years or more of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s) and elect not to vest or retire for service
– Withdraw account contributions (taxable) or rollover account contributions to another qualified plan (tax-deferred)
When you leave employment with the City before you are qualified to retire for service, you may “vest” and preserve your claim to a future monthly benefit.
To qualify for vesting:
- you have five years or more of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s)
- you leave your contributions on account with SFERS until at least age 50 when you are eligible to claim a vesting benefit
Rules to Vest
If you qualify and want to vest when you separate from employment, follow these steps:
Estimate Your Vesting Benefit
Claiming Your Vesting Benefit
You may claim your vesting benefit as early as age 50. See your Summary of Key Plan Provisions for vesting eligibility.
Follow these steps:
To help you get ready for your appointment, please review the Retirement Appointment Checklist. We will also discuss your benefit payment options and the significance of designating a beneficiary in detail. To help you prepare for this discussion, please select the link below to review SFERS’ benefit payment options.
Benefit Payment Options Table
– Valid picture ID or passport
– Original certified marriage/domestic partnership certificate
– Original certified birth certificate of spouse/domestic partner or designated beneficiary
– Spouse’s/Domestic Partner’s Social Security Number
– Unmarried child or children (under 18) date of birth and Social Security Number
– Separation Report (if you have separated within 90 days of completing the retirement application)
SFERS, CalPERS, and certain other California public retirement systems provide “reciprocal” retirement benefits. Under reciprocity, if you work for more than one eligible California public agency, you may combine credited service earned under each reciprocal retirement system to qualify for retirement in each plan as long as, the reciprocal service is uninterrupted.
Rules for Reciprocity
Members have the following options for reciprocity:
Option 1: Become a member of SFERS
Terminate employment with CalPERS or another reciprocal retirement system, and within six (6) months after your termination date, become a member of SFERS
Option 2: Terminate employment from your SFERS-covered position
Terminate employment from your SFERS-covered position and become a member of a reciprocal system within six (6) months after your termination date from your SFERS-covered position.
- You must be completely separated from your SFERS-covered employment before becoming a member of a new reciprocal plan (membership in two retirement plans at the same time disqualifies reciprocal benefits).
- You have credited service earned and/or contributions on account with the reciprocal system(s) as of your termination date from the reciprocal system(s), and on your effective membership date with SFERS
- At retirement, you must apply to retire from each system separately using the same retirement date
- When you retire simultaneously from all systems, your highest pensionable compensation earned with any of the reciprocal systems will be used to calculate your benefits in each system (given the system uses a retirement formula based on compensation).
Make an Election for Reciprocity
Below are the options for making an election for reciprocity.
Coming to Work for the City
If you terminated employment from a reciprocal retirement system within six (6) months of being hired in a SFERS-covered position, you can make an election for reciprocity during the new member enrollment process.
Leaving City Employment
These are the steps to take if you are leaving your SFERS covered position and considering employment with another public agency:
To inquire about the potential impact on your retirement benefits should you join a reciprocal agency, e-mail SFERS at [email protected] You do not need an appointmentto make an election for reciprocity.
For a list of reciprocal retirement systems, visit the CalPERS website and view Publication 16, “When You Change Retirement Systems”.
SFERS does not have a reciprocal agreement with the University of California Retirement Plan, Judges Retirement System (JRS), Legislator’s Retirement System, State Teacher’s Retirement System, or Federal Employees’ Retirement System
Refund or Rollover of Contributions
If you leave employment with the City before you are qualified to retire for service or eligible to vest, you can receive a full refund of your contributions.
To qualify for a refund of contributions:
- you have Less than five years of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s)
- you have Five years or more of credited service with SFERS or in combination with SFERS and another reciprocal system(s) and elect not to vest or retire for service
Refunded contributions are subject to federal and/or state taxes. To defer paying taxes, you may elect to directly roll over your refunded contributions to another qualified plan or individual retirement account (e.g. 401(k) or IRA).
To Elect a Refund or Rollover of Contributions
These are the steps to take if you are leaving your SFERS covered position and taking a refund of your contributions:
Refunds are processed within eight (8) weeks from the latter of the refund request date, your separation date, or the date of your last paycheck.
Accepting a refund of your retirement contributions terminates your claim to any future benefit from the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System. A refund may also impact your claim to CCSF retiree health benefits. Contact the Health Service System directly at (628)-652-4700 prior to electing a refund.