Working After Retirement
Working for a SCERA employer
As a retired SCERA member, you may work for a SCERA-covered employer without affecting your monthly retirement benefit as long as you comply with the requirements of California retirement law and federal tax law, as summarized below. It is up to you and your proposed SCERA-covered employer to ensure compliance with these requirements and strict penalties may be imposed on a retiree who does not satisfy these requirements.
180-day break in service
All members must have a 180-day break in service following retirement before returning to work as an extra-help retiree or as an independent contractor for a SCERA-covered employer. A “break in service” includes the employee terminating employment with no agreement or understanding between the employer and employee that the employee will return to work for the employer. Members can return to work before the end of the 180 days without loss of retirement benefits only if the employer certifies that the appointment is critically needed (necessary to prevent work stoppage in an emergency or the member has skills needed to perform work of limited duration) and the appointment is approved by the governing body of the employer in a public meeting (not on the consent calendar).
A public safety officer or firefighter is generally exempt from the employer certification if returning to work in a public safety officer or firefighter position.
If the 180-day break is not satisfied, there is a plan violation and retirement benefits will be suspended, and benefits already paid must be repaid, until there is a 180-day break in service.
If SCERA is notified that an agreement or understanding between the employer and employee that the employee will return to work for the employer after retirement, the retiree must wait the entire 180-day break in service before returning or it will be considered a plan violation.
60-day break in service
The 60-day break in service cannot be waived, and applies to anyone retiring prior to age 59-1/2. If the 60-day break is not satisfied, the retiree will be subject to a 10% early distribution tax penalty until they turn age 59-1/2 or until there is a 60-day break in service.
In addition, if the member retires without a 60-day break in service, and before normal retirement age (58 for General members and 50 for Safety members) there is a plan violation and retirement benefits will be suspended, and benefits already paid must be repaid, until there is a 60-day break in service.
Retirees may continue to receive their retirement benefit if they meet the break-in-service requirements above and their extra help employment with all SCERA-covered employers does not exceed a total (for all employers in that public retirement system) of 960 hours per Government Code section 7522.56.
A retiree who receives unemployment insurance arising from the end of an extra help assignment may not be employed in any public employment capacity for a period of 12 months after the unemployment benefits cease.
Working for non-SCERA employers
After your retirement you may generally work in any occupation or employment for an employer other than one of SCERA's participating employers, and there is no impact on your SCERA benefit.
If you are receiving a pension from another governmental plan, such as Social Security, please contact that plan administrator to find out how working after retirement may affect your situation.