It's never too early to begin preparing and we're here to help. Be sure to take a look at our checklist of retirement planning steps that includes not only the "what," but also the "when."
You're considered retired once you begin receiving a retirement benefit. This is usually the first of the month after the month you've separated from employment.
If you separate from employment, but wait to start drawing a benefit, you'll be considered retired once you do begin receiving it.
There are two catch-up options you can use to defer additional money to your DCP account. For details, call us at 1-888-327-5596 and select option 2.
You are guaranteed a retirement benefit for your lifetime and, if you choose a survivor option, for the lifetime of your survivor.
Our goal is for you to receive your benefit payment by the end of the month.
If you choose direct deposit, and it has become effective, you will receive your first benefit payment by the last banking day in the month you retire (a banking day is any day the bank is open) .
Direct deposit example:
You retired on March 1, and the last banking day of the month is March 31. You will receive your payment by March 31. See When am I considered retired?
If you don’t choose direct deposit, we will mail your paper check with the intention of it reaching you by the end of the month.
Paper payment example:
You retired on March 1. You should receive your paper payment by March 31 or shortly after. Sometimes, the US mail may cause a delay. See When am I considered retired?
Please note: We're only able to send your check to one bank account. If you would like your payment deposited in two accounts, be sure to arrange with your bank for an automatic transfer of funds.
Deductions to your retirement benefit check can include:
The good news is – some of the payroll deductions you currently see (Social Security, Medicare) will not be taken from your retirement benefit.
Plan 2 provides a retirement benefit at:
Age 55 or older with at least 20 years of service credit. Your benefit will be reduced if you are under age 65. There is less of a reduction if you have 30 or more years of service credit.*
*Plan 2 and Plan 3 provide an unreduced defined benefit at age 62 for members who were hired before May 1, 2013 and retire with 30 or more years of service credit.
Your Plan 2 handbook contains more information.
If you are a school district employee, you can retire earlier by forfeiting up to 45 days of sick leave. For example, if you have 45 days of sick leave and are age 65 or older, you may retire with four years and 10 months of service credit. (If you've cashed out the sick leave, however, you can't use it for this purpose.)
The sick leave won't be a part of your benefit calculation. If you plan to use sick leave to retire earlier, please call us before you leave your position.
You can use our online service to estimate your benefit or, if you are within two years of retirement, please call us at (360) 664-7000 or 1-800-547-6657 to request a written estimate. Here is the formula we will use to calculate your monthly benefit:
2 percent x Average Final Compensation x Service Credit Years x Early Retirement Factor (if applicable) = Monthly Benefit
Members sometimes think there is a cap on the amount of service credit used in Plan 2 benefit calculations. There is not. All of your service credit will be used in the calculation.
Average your monthly salary from the highest-paid 60 consecutive months in which you earned service credit, no matter when that is in your career. Your AFC does not include severance pay, such as lump-sum payments for deferred sick leave, vacation, or annual leave.
Cash outs are not included in your benefit calculation.
Each option has both benefits and consequences you will need to evaluate. Before making a decision, it's a good idea to consult a licensed tax advisor, estate planner, or financial planner who specializes in retirement law and planning.
You'll want to consider the following:
Applying for retirement – online
Go to your online retirement account. Log in (or sign up if you haven't already done so). The online retirement application will display only what you need based on your retirement system, plan and retirement eligibility rules. Follow the step-by-step instructions and electronically submit the application to us when you're ready. If you encounter any issues during the process, don't give up! Just give us a call and we will help walk you through it.
Applying for retirement – paper application packet
When you are ready to begin the process, request a retirement application from us. Be sure to submit the completed application with all required signatures and documentation, including proof of age for your survivor if you choose one of the options with a survivor benefit.
Remember, if you're purchasing service credit, you'll need to complete and turn in your purchase form with your retirement application.
If you prefer to talk with a Retirement Specialist in person, you can stop by our Olympia office anytime during our normal business hours of 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday, excluding holidays. It works best if you first request an estimate and retirement packet and have enough time to look it over before you visit. That will give your Retirement Specialist specific information to go over with you and also ensure your questions are answered.
You can reach us at (360) 664-7000 or 800-547-6657. Here are directions and a map to DRS.
During the month of your retirement, we will send you notification with the amount of your benefit and the date you can expect to receive your first payment. Any time you have questions, be sure to call.
Here are a few things to consider when moving outside the country or state:
Your retirement system does not accept service credit from other states.
If you're an active member in any of the retirement systems listed below and you once belonged to another of these systems, you may be eligible for benefits as a "dual member."
There are three advantages to being a dual member:
To find out more about retiring as a dual member, see What is dual membership and how does it affect me?
If you were a member of SCERS, please call us at (360) 664-7000 or 1-800-547-6657 for information about dual membership with SCERS.