SBCERA Cover Story

The holidays can serve as a time of rest, and enjoying the comforts of home, good food and favorite movies.

In addition to those moments of peace, the holidays can be demanding, and the number of tasks can weigh us all down if left unmanaged. To successfully navigate the season, you are likely using some “to-do” lists – wish lists for Santa, baking ingredients lists and New Year’s resolutions lists, to name a few.

For good reason, we create such checklists to fully achieve our goals during life’s busiest moments. When it comes to retirement, we at SBCERA know planning and preparation may seem daunting to you right now. To help keep you organized, here is a simple list to review when you are ready to consider retirement.

  1. Talk to your family - It is often wise to include your loved ones in the planning process as early as possible. Perhaps you hope to travel in retirement, or maybe you hope to move closer to adult children and grandchildren. Whatever retirement looks like for you, strategizing and planning with your family can make the transition much easier. While you are planning with your loved ones, also make sure the beneficiaries you currently have listed on file with SBCERA accurately reflect your wishes, and make updates if necessary.

  2. Gather important documents - When you are within three years of retirement, we advise gathering original or certified birth certificates for you and your spouse/domestic partner, and a certified marriage license or domestic partnership certificate, as applicable. If a divorce occurred during the course of your SBCERA membership, immediately send SBCERA your Final Judgment of Dissolution for review if you have not done so already. Our Legal Department will need to assess whether your ex-spouse is entitled to a portion of your future retirement benefit.

  3. Initiate or complete any remaining service credit purchases - Within two years of retirement, we suggest you initiate or complete any service credit purchases for which you are eligible and interested. If you previously worked for an SBCERA-covered employer, a California city or county, the Federal Government or served in the military, you may be eligible to purchase service credit with SBCERA for that time in order to enhance your retirement benefit.

  4. Create a retirement budget - It is important to be financially prepared for retirement, and we suggest creating a budget approximately one to two years prior to your effective retirement date. You can start by requesting a benefit estimate from SBCERA. You may even ask for a few estimates based on different retirement dates in order to help you more effectively choose the ideal time to retire. If you are a Tier I Member, review your M.O.U. to see if you are entitled to leave cash outs. You will also want to obtain detailed information on any other sources of retirement income you may have, such as Social Security or deferred compensation plans, and determine when you wish to collect or take distributions from those accounts.

    On the expense side of your budget, you can price and compare retiree medical and dental plans. Last but not least, your SBCERA benefit is generally considered taxable income, so you may wish to review tax tables or meet with a registered tax advisor to get an understanding of your retirement tax picture.

  5. Make an appointment with us - For more detailed answers to any questions you may have, SBCERA’s Retirement Specialists are here to help. We suggest scheduling a service retirement appointment with us two to three months prior to your effective date of retirement, but you can request a consultation at any time during your career.
    We realize this list is not exhaustive, but it can serve as a helpful starting point. For a more detailed list, you can visit www.SBCERA.org/Checklist. It may look like a lot of work at first glance, but using our list and checking it twice can help you successfully reach your retirement goals.