FAQs – Police & Fire Retirees

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



Retirees 

Where is The Office of Retirement Services located? What are the business hours, contact email address phone and fax numbers?

The Office of Retirement Services's business hours are Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM. The office is located at 1737 N. First Street, Suite 600, 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 email address is Retirement.Dept@sanjoseca.gov. The fax number is (408) 392-0771 or (408) 392-6732.

Can I access my Retirement account information after hours?

If you have access to the internet, then you have access to your Retirement account through MemberDirect. MemberDirect 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 “Member Portal Login” from the menu and logon to MemberDirect. If you have any questions accessing MemberDirect, please contact the Office of Retirement Services at (408) 794 - 1000 or toll free (800) 732 - 6477.

What information can I access on MemberDirect?

As an Active Member:

You can access your Account Summary - such as employee contributions, and employment/benefit years of service, Personal Information, Nominated Beneficiaries, and Estimate a Benefit. You can also retrieve the forms, including Application for Retirement, General Forms, and Name/Address Update.

As a Retired/Recipient Member:

You can see details about your monthly benefit (including insurance deduction and tax withholding), Insurance Information, Tax Withholding, Direct Deposit, Year-to-Date, 1099-R, Demographic, and Nominated Beneficiaries. You can access the general forms, Online Open Enrollment (only available during November 1 - 30), Tax Forms, Insurance Forms, and Address/Name Update.

What is a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

Federal tax law mandates an RMD from your retirement account be taken based upon the following:
If you turned 70 ½ on or before December 31, 2019, your RMD must be made no later than April 1 of the year following the termination from your retirement plan.
If you turned 70 ½ on or after January 1, 2020, your RMD must be made the later of:
April 1st of the year following the termination from your retirement plan OR
April 1st of the year following the calendar year in which you turn 72
If an RMD is not taken by that date, the IRS may impose an excise tax equal to 50 percent of the amount that should have been taken but was not.
For more information, visit the IRS website www.irs.gov or consult with your tax advisor.
NOTE: If you are actively working for the City of San Jose, or drawing a monthly retirement benefit, you are NOT required to take an RMD.

Can I add a new spouse as a Beneficiary to my city pension?

Yes, if you remarry after retirement, you have the option of naming your new spouse as a beneficiary for a continuance of benefits in the event of your death. This option is only available to you if you contact the Office of Retirement Services within 30 days of your marriage. This option is actuarially calculated based on your monthly pension amount, your date of birth and your spouse's date of birth to show the amount your monthly pension would be reduced to pay for this benefit. The greater the age difference, the greater the cost.

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.

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 Office of Retirement Services can provide this information with your written consent for release of the information.

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.

What do I need to do when I turn 65 years of age?

About three months prior to your 65th birthday, The Office of 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.

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.

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).


Pension/Compensation

What is "Final Compensation"?

Final Compensation is defined in Section 3.36.020.5(B)(2) in the San Jose Municipal Code (“SJMC”) as your highest 12 consecutive months. However, if any period of your highest year is within the last 12 months of your City service, your highest year will be capped at 108% of the 12 months before the last 12 months of work. If none of the highest 12 months is in your last 12 months before retirement, there is no cap.

For example: You want to retire on 1/1/12, and your highest year is 7/1/10 - 6/30/11. Since 1/1/11 – 6/30/11 is within the last 12 months of your City service, your highest year will be capped at 108% of your compensation between 1/1/10 – 12/31/10 (the 12 months prior to the last 12 months that you worked).

Now, suppose you want to retire on 1/1/12, but your highest year is 7/1/09 – 6/30/10, there would be no cap since none of that period is within the last 12 months of your City service.

What is included in my "Pensionable Salary"?

“Compensation”, as it is defined in the San Jose Municipal Code Section 3.36.020.3 is commonly referred to as “pensionable salary” and generally includes the following per the SJMC:

Holiday pay or Holiday-in-Lieu
Incentive pay for successful completion of Police Anti-Terrorist Tactics as certified by the Police Department
Incentive pay for completing and maintaining an Emergence Medical Technician Certificate earned on or after July 7, 1991
Anti-terrorism training pay received by members of the Fire Department earned on or after July 1, 2006
Disability leave payments paid by the city to a member pursuant to which a member continues to receive full monthly compensation, including but not limited to, disability leave payments made pursuant to Labor Code Section 4850.
Premium pay paid pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for regularly scheduled hours for employees who are assigned to a work week averaging fifty-six hours per week over a twelve-month period earned after December 28, 1997.
Pensionable pay is administered by Finance-Payroll as part of the active employee payroll process. Any questions requesting more detail than what’s provided here should be directed to Finance-Payroll.


Insurance Benefits

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 Police & Fire retiree if you retired for disability or service with either 15 years of service (YOS) or receive allowance that is at least 37.5% of final compensation.

You are eligible for medical benefits as a Police & Fire retiree if you retired for disability or service with either 15 YOS with the City of San José or receive allowance that is a t least 37.5% of final compensation.

If you separate City employment and leave your contributions in the Fund (Defer Vest), you can enroll in health and dental benefits at the time of retirement if you meet the eligibility requirements as stated above.

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.

How is the Police & Fire Medicare Part B Reimbursement calculated?

The Police & Fire Retirement Fund will pay the cost of the lowest cost plan for health coverage. If the Member chooses a plan other than the lowest cost plan they pay the difference. The same goes for the reimbursement of Medicare Part B. If there is a subsidy balance, that balance may be used toward the reimbursement of the Medicare Part B premium paid to Social Security. Therefore a Member may get a full reimbursement or they may only get a partial reimbursement depending on the subsidy balance.

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.

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.

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.

What is the Verification Policy for Full-time Students dependents?


Separation Before Retirement (deferred vested, reciprocity, termination)

What happens to my retirement contributions 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 10 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 10 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 and 20 years have elapsed from date of membership, 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.

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. If you want to claim reciprocity, you must leave your money in the fund. You will then retire from both plans simultaneously. Both plans will look at your highest final average salary (FAS) 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.