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The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is a defined benefit retirement plan. It provides benefits based on a member's years of service, age, and final compensation. In addition, benefits are provided for disability, death, and payments to survivors or beneficiaries of eligible members. By statute, the California State University (CSU) participates in the CalPERS program. Membership is mandatory for those CSU employees who are eligible and processed automatically.

In a defined benefit retirement plan, you will receive a lifetime benefit determined by a set formula.  This contrasts with a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k), in which benefits are determined solely by the amount of contributions in an account.

CalPERS Plan Information

    • Full-Time appointments that exceed 6 months
    • Half-Time appointments (50 percent or more) for one year or longer
    • Temporary Faculty are required to enter CalPERS Membership commencing with the third consecutive semester appointment at half-time or more (7.5 WTU or higher)
    • Irregular-basis employees, such as seasonal, limited term and intermittent (special consultant and casual worker excluded) who work 1,000 hours or 125 days in a fiscal year.


    Membership eligibility and enrollment is overseen by the Payroll Department.

    Employees excluded from CalPERS Membership are mandatorily enrolled in the Part-Time, Seasonal, Temporary (PST) Retirement Program.


    There are some appointments that are excluded from CalPERS Membership:

    • Employment as a student assistant  (Note: teaching associates are not excluded).
    • Employment as a youth summer aid under the federal job training partnership act.
    • Employment in extension programs.
    • Employment in addition to other full-time employment.
    • Employment as a Senate, Assembly, and Executive Fellow.

    Three sources fund the defined benefit plan:

    1. CalPERS Members  - Employees make contributions into the system based on a percentage fixed by statute. 
    2. CalPERS Employers - Additional funding is provided by employer contribution.
    3. CalPERS Investment Earnings - This funding source makes up the largest contribution to the fund with earnings from CalPERS diversified investment portfolio.

    CalPERS uses contributions of the employer and the employee as well as income from investments to pay for employee retirement benefits. Employee and employer contributions are a percentage of applicable employee compensation and are made on a pre-tax basis; federal and state taxes are deferred until benefits are paid. Any investment return on an employee’s account is also tax-deferred. The investment of contributions are managed by CalPERS; therefore, employees do not bear any investment risk. Employee benefits grow with years of service, age at retirement and final average salary.

    Watch the CalPERS Pension Video (2 minute duration)


    Vesting period is determined by CalPERS.

    Employees are vested (eligible for retirement) when they have 5 years of CalPERS Membership and have reached the minimum retirement age, based on their benefit factor.

    Retiree Health and Dental
    Employees are vested (eligible for health and dental benefits) when they have 5 or 10 years of CalPERS Membership, based on the below information:

    Those subject to the 10-year vesting period are new employees hired by the CSU for the first time and who become a CalPERS Member on or after:

    • July 1, 2017 - New Faculty (Unit 3)
    • July 1, 2018 - New Non-Represented Employees (MPP, C99 or E99) or New Represented Employees
      (Units 1,2,4,5,6,7,9 and 10)
    • July 1, 2019 - New Teaching Associates (Unit 11)

    Exceptions to the above 10-year vesting:

    • Faculty (Unit 3) working for the CSU prior to July 1, 2017, who become a CalPERS Member after July 1, 2017.
    • Non-represented employees (MPP, C99 or E99) and represented employees (1,2,4,5,6,7,9 and 10) working for the CSU prior to July 1, 2018, who become a CalPERS Member after July 1, 2018.
    • Teaching Associates (Unit 11) working for the CSU prior to July 1, 2019, who become a CalPERS Member after July 1, 2019.


    Note: Prior State Employment (non CSU) is not used to determine exclusion from the 10 year vesting period, as it is not considered "CSU" employment; However, CalPERS counts service credit earned at any CalPERS public agency and public contract agencies, so the 10 years vesting does not have to be just with the CSU.


    Three factors are multiplied together to calculate your service retirement:

    • Service Credit - You earn service credit for each year or partial year you work under CalPERS Membership. A full-time employee who works at least 10 months per fiscal year will earn 1.0 of service credit. Part-time employees accrue service credit on a pro-rated basis.
    • Benefit Factor - Your benefit factor is the percentage of pay to which you are entitled for each year of service. It is determined by your age at retirement and the benefit formula that you qualify for.
    • Final Compensation - Final compensation is your average full-time monthly pay rate and special compensation for your 12 or 36 months. The full-time pay rate is used, not your earnings. If you work part-time, your full-time pay rate will be used to determine your final compensation. For example, if an employee works half-time and earns $2,000 per month ($4,000 full-time), the pay rate used for final compensation calculation would be $4,000.


    (Refer to State Miscellaneous & Industrial Member)


    CalPERS Special Power of Attorney
    The CalPERS Special Power of Attorney allows the CalPERS Member to designate a representative or agent to conduct their retirement affairs if they are unable to act on their own behalf.


    CalPERS Beneficiary Designation
    Active CalPERS Members who want their death benefits paid to a designated beneficiary must complete the Beneficiary Designation form.


    Forms are completed and submitted directly to CalPERS, and are not accepted by the Benefits Office.

Additional Information/Resources:

For the most current and detailed information, employee can visit the CalPERS website or call CalPERS at (888) 225-7377.  Members may log into MyCalPERS to manage their account online.