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FAQs

FAQs– Federated Employees – Tier 1 (includes those hired, rehired or
reinstated
BEFORE September 30th 2012)

Following is a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the
Retirement Services Department, throughout this document referred as
the Department.

Active Employees


Retirees


Insurance Benefits


Separation Before Retirement (deferred vested, reciprocity, termination)


Layoff, Rehire, Reinstatements


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Which Tier do I belong to?
If you are hired, rehired, or reinstated on or after September 30th 2012, but before September 29th 2013 (including former Federated Tier 1 Employees) you will belong to Tier 2. Please refer to the Tier 2 Benefits Fact Sheet for more information on the Benefit structure.

If you are hired, rehired, or reinstated on or after September 29th 2013 (including former Federated Tier 1 Employees) you will belong to Tier 2b. Please refer to the Tier 2b for more information on the Benefit structure.

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Can I access my Retirement account information after hours?
If you have access to the internet, then you have access to all your Retirement account information 24 hours a day!  Simply navigate to www.sjretirement.com,  choose “My Account” from the menu and logon to Web member Services (WMS). WMS stands for Web member Services which is a secure portal that was set up to allow Members of the Retirement fund to access their Retirement Account information.  More detailed Instructions for accessing WMS can be found under “News&Information”/“Information”.

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What is WMS?
WMS stands for Web member Services which is a secure portal that was set up to allow Members of the Retirement fund to access their Retirement Account information 24 hours a day!  Simply navigate to www.sjretirement.com, choose “My Account” from the menu and logon to Web member Services (WMS).  More detailed Instructions for accessing WMS can be found under “News&Information”/“Information”.

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What information can I access on Web Member Services (WMS)?
As an Active Member:

  • Access your personal data – Your current Demograhic information that we have on record, Current Employee contributions, Current Employer contributions, Employment years of service, Benefit years of service, Nominated Beneficiary information, and a Benefit estimator.
  • With the Benefit Estimator you can run “what if” retirement estimates for yourself

-  As a Retired Member:

  • Access details about your monthly benefit
  • Access 1099R, Year to date earnings. Paycheck information,  Payroll deductions, Tax withholdings, Income, Non-taxable income, Direct deposit, Insurances, Nominated beneficiaries and Demographic data

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What happens to my retirement when I terminate my employment with the city?

The Department receives a copy of the Notice of Separation at which time they send a Return of Contributions packet giving the options available. If you have less than 5 years of service, you can either request a Return of Contributions (ROC) or request to have the contributions rolled over to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If you have more than 5 years, you can choose either of the above options, or you can choose to leave your contributions in the fund until you are eligible to retire and begin collecting a benefit. This is classified as a Deferred Vested retiree. At the beginning of the year in which you turn 55 years of age, the Department will send an application for your completion. Your retirement date will be the date of your 55th birthday. Your personal contributions are yours, however the only way to collect any of the City’s contributions is to retire from City service and draw a monthly pension.

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How do I transfer my contributions over to PERS?
If you are terminating your employment with the City and going to work for a PERS agency, you will be given an option at the time of separation from the City to leave your money in the fund. That is the option that you will have to make if you want to claim reciprocity. You will then retire from both plans simultaneously. Both plans will look at your highest final average salary (FAS) throughout your civil service career and will calculate your benefit based on that salary, whether it is with the City or with PERS. You will then draw a pension from each plan.

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How do I buy back previous years of employment with the city?
If you worked for the City and withdrew your contributions at the time of separation and then returned to work for the City, you can buy back the previous years of service by establishing a Contract with the City. You have an option to pay it back in lump sum or by paying a specified amount each pay period for a maximum of 78 pay periods.

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How do I change my beneficiaries?
If for any reason you want to change your primary and/or secondary beneficiaries, please complete a beneficiary designation form. You can obtain a form by clicking on the "FORMS" icon of this website to download the beneficiary designation form, you can stop by the office to pick one up, or by calling us and request that we send you a beneficiary designation form. It is wise to review your beneficiary forms annually to be sure they are as you want them to be especially if there has been a death, divorce or remarriage.

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Where can I get information on Long Term Care (LTC)?
The City of San Jose offers a Long Term Care (LTC) plan through Prudential. For inside California, call (800) 732-0416, or outside California, call (800) 732-0416.

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Where is the Retirement Services Department located, what is the schedule of business hours and what are the phone and fax numbers?
The Retirement Services office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located at 1737 N. First Street, Suite 580, San Jose. We are about two miles north of City Hall at the corner of North First and Metro. If you are taking the light rail, exit at the Metro station. If you are driving, there is ample free parking behind the building. You can call the Department at (408) 794-1000 or if outside the 408 area code you can use (800) 732-6477. The fax number is (408) 392-0771 or (408) 392-6732.

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When I retire, when will I receive my pension check?
If you retire prior to the payroll deadline date within your retirement month, you will receive your first retirement check on the last day of the first month of retirement. If you retire past the payroll deadline date of your retirement month, you will receive your first retirement check on the last day of the following month. You will then receive a pro-rated amount for the month your retired plus the full following month.

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When will I receive my annual member statement?
The Member Statements are mailed in February of each year. It is important to check all of the information for correctness and notify the Department of Retirement Services of anything that is needs to be corrected.

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I am applying for a loan and my loan officer has requested written confirmation of the monetary value of my retirement account. How do I get that?
The Department of Retirement Services can provide this information with your written consent for release of the information.

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I would like to speak to a specific analyst about my issue. What do I need to do to be put through to that person?
You simply ask for the individual. If he/she is available they will be happy to take your call. If they are not available at that particular time, they will be happy to return your call at a more convenient time.

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How do I apply for retirement?
The Application for Retirement form needs to be completed and returned to Retirement Services. You can obtain a form by clicking on the "FORMS" icon of this website to download the application, you can stop by the office to pick one up, or by calling us and we will mail you the application. As soon as the Department receives your completed application, a Benefits Analyst will be assigned to you. The Analyst will contact you to schedule a meeting where the two of you will to go over all of your options in retirement and sign all necessary documents.

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How much money will I get when I retire?
The pension you are entitled to is based on a formula.  The Department can run an estimate that will show your actual years of service (YOS) worked on a given date and your average salary.  This is used to calculate the monthly pension benefit.  The estimate will also show the options for the continuance of benefits for your eligible spouse.   You can get an estimate of your benefit online in the WEB Members Services Section of this website by clicking on the “MY ACCOUNT” icon.

The calculation for Federated retirees is YOS times 2.5% times Final Average Salary (FAS).  For example, an employee who worked 30 years and made $5,000/mth will get a pension of $3,750/mth (30 x 2.5% x $5,000).  The maximum benefit is 75% of the FAS.

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What do I need to do when I turn 65 years of age?
About three months prior to your 65th birthday, Retirement Services will mail you a packet that includes the necessary forms needed to enroll in a Medicare plan.  The letter will instruct you to go to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to enroll in Medicare Part-A (hospitalization) and Part-B (outpatient).

NOTE:  Active City of San José employees would enroll in Part-A only. You would not enroll in Part-B until you retire from full-time employment.

Medicare Part-A is the part that you must pay into Social Security for 10 years or 40 quarters to be eligible. If you have worked most of your career with the City of San José and did not pay into Social Security, you need to obtain a letter from Social Security stating your ineligibility. You may be able to meet the eligibility requirements for Part-A through the work history of your spouse, ex-spouse, or deceased spouse.

Everyone is eligible for Medicare Part-B.  For 2009, the premium for Part-B starts at $96.40 (plus income-related premiums for high-income beneficiaries). The premium is either deducted from your monthly SSA pension check, or it can be paid each quarter directly to SSA by personal check or money order.

Once you have enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you will enroll in one of the Medicare plans available to retirees.  For detail information about the different plans, go to the “INSURANCE BENEFITS” icon to download the Medicare Plan Comparison summary and rates.

Each Medicare plan has its own set of forms that need to be completed to comply with regulations set by the Centers of Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS).  The Department will send the forms that are for the medical plan you are enrolled in.  If you wish to change medical providers, you will need to contact the office to get the required forms.

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What are the health benefits for retirees?
The Retirement Fund provides subsidized medical and dental benefits if you meet the necessary eligibility requirements. The plan will pay 100% of the premium for dental, and 100% of the premium for the lowest cost medical plan.  If you choose a plan other than the lowest cost plan, you are responsible for paying the difference.

You are eligible for dental benefits as a Federated retiree if you have at least 5 years of service (YOS) with the City of San José or receive allowance that is at least 37.5% of final compensation.
You are eligible for medical benefits as a Federated retiree if you have at least 15 YOS with the City of San José or receive allowance that is at least 37.5% of final compensation.

If you separate City employment and leave your contributions in the Fund (Defer Vest), you lose your dental benefit; however, you can enroll in medical benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements as stated above.

Federated retirees with less than 15 YOS are eligible to continue enrollment in our medical group coverage as long as the retiree pays 100% of the premium.  This gives the member the benefit of continuing the richness of the City’s contracted plans.  This benefit must be selected at the time of retirement, the member’s pension must to be enough to cover the premium, and the member cannot make changes during open enrollment.  If at any time the coverage is terminated, the member cannot enroll again.

For detailed information on the plans available, click on the “INSURANCE BENEFITS” icon.

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How long can my dependent child(ren) be on my health coverage?
Effective January 1, 2011, your child dependent(s) can remain on your medical until the end of the month when s/he turns 26 years old.

For dental and other voluntary insurances, the child dependent(s) can remain on until the end of the month when s/he turns 19 years old or age 24 if a full time student.

Full-time students must be enrolled with a minimum of 12 units at an accredited college or university.  It is very important for you to provide student verification to the Department each quarter or semester. If verification is NOT received with in 30 days of enrollment, the dependent will be dropped from your dental and voluntary insurances. At the time of loss of coverage, the child will be offered Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage, which is a federally mandated provision of continuation of medical, dental and vision care benefits. The maximum duration of this self-paid coverage is 36 months.

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Besides medical and dental insurance, are there other insurances that can carry over to retirement?
Retirees have the option of continuing the following voluntary insurances:

  • Vision:  VSP Choice and VSP Signature
  • Life Insurance through Standard
  • Personal Accident Insurance (AD&D) through CIGNA/LINA
  • Long Term Care  through Prudential
  • Trustmark (Accident and Cancer/Critical Illness)

Voluntary Insurances are those where the retiree pays 100% of the premium.  For detailed information on the different insurances, click on the “VOLUNTARY INSURANCES” icon.

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Is a retiree eligible to continue the City’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
Your EAP coverage will end on the last day of the month in which your employment or benefits eligibility terminates. Your dependents' coverage will end on the last day of the month in which either you or your dependents are no longer eligible.

Continuation of coverage at the time of retirement may be available through COBRA. Contact Human Resources for COBRA coverage. If you carry the insurance through a Union, please contact your Union for more information.

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When is the best time to retire?
The best time to retire is when you want to retire. Federated retirees are entitled to a 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) effective every April 1st.  A popular time to retire is the last pay period end date in March; which ensures that you will receive a 3% increase immediately on upon retiring.  Others choose to retire at the beginning of a new year if they expect to receive a significant termination payoff from vacation, sick leave, or comp time.

Retirement Services strongly recommends retiring on a pay period end date (Saturday) to avoid unnecessary complications with your final paycheck and your first pension check.  When choosing which pay period of the month to retire, one thing you should consider is the length of time between your last paycheck and your first pension check.  If you retire on the second pay period in the month, then the amount of time until your first pension check is minimized. Retirees are paid once a month on the last business day of each month.

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Where do I get my notice of separation?
When you meet with your Benefit Analyst, the Notice of Separation will be one of the forms that you will have to sign. The completed form will be forwarded to your Department to complete their part of the process.

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What do I need to do to change my direct deposit information?
You can send a letter to the Department stating the change, or you can obtain a form by clicking on the "FORMS" icon of this website to download the Automatic Deposit Form, you can stop by the office to pick one up, or by calling us and request that we send you an Automatic deposit Form. The form/letter must be signed and dated. Remember to attach a voided check to your request.

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I’m moving, what do I need to do?
If you decide to move after you have retired, we need to get in writing the new address information.  This can be done on a letter to the Department or by completing the Change of Address form that can be found under the “FORMS” icon on this website.  The form/letter must be signed and dated. 

But before you submit your change of address request, you may want to consider how your move may affect your medical coverage, state taxes, and where you want your pension to be deposited.

It is important that you find out if your current medical provider will offer services in your new place of residency.  Some providers, like Kaiser, are governed by service areas.  If you move out of their service area, then you will need to change to a Blue Shield plan that may cost you a lot of money.  To get detailed information on the different plans that are offered to retirees, click on the “INSURANCE BENEFITS” icon to download the comparison sheet.  If you determine that you will need to change providers, the Medical, Dental, and Vision Enrollment form needs to be completed and submitted along with your change of address form, which can be found under the “FORMS” icon on this website.  The form must be signed and dated. 

If you moved out of California, you need to determine if you need to continue to pay California state taxes or terminate the deduction.  This would be something you may want to ask your tax preparer.  To make a change to your state taxes deduction, the California State Tax Withholding form needs to be completed and submitted along with your change of address form, which can be found under the “FORMS” icon on this website.  The form must be signed and dated.

If moving is going to cause a change of your financial institution, you will need to provide us the new bank information.  To make this change, send a letter to the Department stating the change, or click on the “FORMS” icon and download the Automatic Deposit form.  The form/letter must be signed and dated.  Remember to attach a voided check to your request

Retirement Services recommends that you notify us of the change of address at least a month in advance (if possible) to meet payroll deadlines and avoid mishaps like depositing your pension to a closed account, or if you need to change providers having laps in coverage, etc…

Please remember that we cannot make any of the above change over the phone.  All changes to our system need to be in writing that includes a signature and a date.  If you cannot print any of the forms above, please call the Department and we will gladly mail you the form(s).



FAQs – Federated Employees – Layoff, Terminations

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If I am laid off, can I apply for retirement?
If you are at least 55 years of age with a minimum of 5 years of service with the City of San Jose, you are eligible to retire from the City of San Jose.  You must submit your application prior to your last day on City payroll with a retirement date being the day after your date of separation.  If there is a break in service you will retire as a deferred vested retiree and lose your dental benefits in retirement.

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When will I meet with a City of San Jose Retirement Analyst?
You can make an appointment to meet with an Analyst at any time, however upon receipt of your application you will be assigned to an Analyst who will guide you through the retirement process.  The Analyst will send a retirement packet to your home and will schedule you for a group counseling session.  The group counseling sessions are conducted by an Analyst who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

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If I am laid off, do I retain the right to retire?
If you are not eligible to retire at the time of separation from the City but are vested with 5 years or more of service you can leave your contributions in the fund until you reach age 55.  You would then submit an application for a deferred vested retirement prior to your 55th birthday.  The date of your 55th birthday would be the effective date of retirement.

If you have less than 5 years of City service but you go to a reciprocal agency under the CalPERS pension plan, you can leave your contributions in the fund until you are 55 years of age and/or retire from both plan simultaneously.  The rules to claim reciprocity are that you must begin your employment with the CalPERS agency within six months of terminating your employment with the City with no over-lapping or concurrent service.

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If I am laid off, do I have special rights or benefits in retirement from the City of San Jose?
No, a laid off employee has the same options as a terminated or resigned employee.

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What are the subsidized health benefits in retirement?

  • Dental if you have 5 years of service and retire directly from active employment.  NOTE:  Deferred vested retirees are NOT eligible for dental benefits

  • Health if you have 15 years of service or more.  If you retire directly from active employment OR as a deferred vested retiree with 15 years of service or more you are eligible for health benefits.

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What are the eligibility rules for health coverage?
If you have 5 or more years of service and retire directly from active employment with the City you are eligible for dental insurance.

If you retire directly from active employment or deferred vested with a minimum of 15 years of service, you are eligible for subsidized health insurance.  The medical plans are the same for active employees and retirees.  The pension plan pays 100% of the cost of the lowest cost plan.  If you are in the lowest cost plan you pay no premium cost.  If you are in a plan other than the lowest cost plan, you pay the difference in premium cost.

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If I’m eligible for retirement at the time I’m laid off and opt not to retire, will I be eligible for medical benefits in the future?
If you defer your retirement and retire at a later time as a deferred vested retiree with 15 years of service or more you are able to enroll in a medical plan at the time of retirement, however deferred vested retirees are NOT eligible for dental insurance.

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If I am laid off and must take a return of contributions (ROC) due to not being vested with 5 years of service, can I withdraw my employee contributions to roll over to an IRA or some other qualified retirement account?
Yes, you can roll your employee contributions plus interest into an IRA account, 401-k or other qualified tax deferred account.  Withdrawals must be made in full.  Your employment must have been terminated for 30 days or more to withdraw your contributions. 

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Can I withdraw the contributions my employer makes on my behalf?
No, you can never withdraw employer contributions.  The only way you can garner a benefit from them is by retiring from the system. 

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If I am hired, rehired or reinstated (includes former Federated Tier 1 Employees) on or after September 30th 2012 what Tier do I belong to?
If you are hired, rehired, or reinstated on or after September 30th 2012, but before September 29th 2013 (including former Federated Tier 1 Employees) you will belong to Tier 2. Please refer to the Tier 2 Benefits Fact Sheet for more information on the Benefit structure.

If you are hired, rehired, or reinstated on or after September 29th 2013 (including former Federated Tier 1 Employees) you will belong to Tier 2b. Please refer to the Tier 2b for more information on the Benefit structure.


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