Reciprocity allows MCERA members to move from one retirement system in California to another and maintain earned retirement benefits. It gives you portability by allowing you to link your service credit and highest average compensation between all of your reciprocal systems. By establishing reciprocity your total retirement benefits may actually increase.
Reciprocal Retirement Systems
MCERA has reciprocal agreements with 19 other California counties operating under the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937 (1937 Act), the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), and any other public retirement system that has a reciprocal agreement with CalPERS.
To establish and maintain reciprocity you must meet the following requirements:
- You must terminate active membership in one system and establish active membership in the new system within six months (180 days).
- You must have a clean break in service from the previous system before entering the new one, with no overlapping service credit. Receiving payment for vacation time with the previous system while making retirement contributions in the new system is one example of an overlap in service credit.
- Your retirement contributions must remain on deposit with all reciprocal systems.
- You must make the election to establish reciprocity with all retirement systems.
- You must retire from all reciprocal retirement systems on the same date.
Advantages of Reciprocity
- The service credit earned in all reciprocal systems will combine to help you meet all vesting and retirement eligibility requirements. This means you don't "start over" when you move between systems.
- Your highest average compensation earned in any retirement system will be used by all systems to calculate your retirement benefit.
- If your new retirement system uses age-based retirement contribution rates, you will pay retirement contributions based on your age at entry into the prior system. Generally, the younger you are when you begin membership the lower your contribution rate.
- Classic Members: If your membership date with your first reciprocal system was prior to January 1, 2013, you might be eligible for the tier and benefit levels in place with that system as of December 31, 2012.
How to Establish Reciprocity with MCERA
When you accept a permanent position with an MCERA employer, you will fill out a Member Enrollment Form where you can indicate your membership with a prior retirement system. MCERA will verify your information with previous employers and receive certifications of service credit accrued and age at entry into the system, which establishes the link between your previous and your current employment.
If reciprocity is a consideration for you, please contact us for more information.