Alameda Case Update

July 20, 2021

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At its Board meetings on August 6, 2020, September 3, 2020, October 1, 2020, and November 5, 2020, the SBCERA Board of Retirement adopted resolutions 2020-5, 2020-6, 2020-8, 2020-9, 2021-1, and 2021-5, respectively, to address the California Supreme Court’s decision issued on July 30, 2020 in the case known as Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association et al. v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association and Board of Retirement of ACERA (S247095, also known as “the Alameda case”).

SBCERA is one of 20 California county retirement systems governed by the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL). The issue in the Alameda case is the inclusion of several pay items in compensation earnable for “legacy” members of CERL retirement systems. At SBCERA, this “legacy” group includes retired, active, and deferred members of our Tier 1 retirement plan. The issues in the Alameda case date back to the implementation of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) on January 1, 2013. 

The Supreme Court’s decision has an effect on the manner in which SBCERA calculated retirement benefits for certain SBCERA retirees, which will result in a recalculation and reduction of benefits for some retirees. The decision also affects how SBCERA must calculate retirement benefits for some active and deferred members who may retire now and into the future.

Supreme Court Decision in Alameda Case

SBCERA Board Resolutions

SBCERA Resolution 2020-5 Regarding Implementation of Alameda Decision

SBCERA Resolution 2020-6 Regarding Implementation of Corrective Distributions Required by the Alameda Decision

SBCERA Resolution 2020-8 Regarding Approval of Appeals Process for Benefit Determinations by the Alameda Decision

SBCERA Resolution 2020-9 Regarding Employer Pay Codes of Employee Compensation

SBCERA Resolution 2020-8.1 Regarding Approval of Appeals Process for Benefit Determinations by the Alameda Decision

SBCERA Resolution 2021-1 Regarding Employer Pay Codes of Employee Compensation

SBCERA Resolution 2021-5 Regarding Employer Pay Codes of Employee Compensation

Although a relatively small portion of SBCERA’s total membership will be affected, we recognize the impact this has on those who will be affected. We want you to know we’re here to help and available to answer any questions you have. We’ll outline the affected groups below. 

Who’s Affected

Current Retirees: The Supreme Court’s decision said that retirement systems like SBCERA did not have the authority to use certain pay items in the calculation of your retirement benefits after PEPRA became law on January 1, 2013. The excluded pay items include standby pay, on-call pay, and call-back pay (also known as “PEPRA Exclusions” in Resolution 2020-5). In effect, this means if you retired on or after January 1, 2013 and your “compensation earnable” used to calculate your Final Average Compensation (FAC) period includes pay items excluded by PEPRA, then SBCERA must recalculate your benefit.  The recalculation will result in a reduced benefit going forward.

If you are a retiree and you are part of the group affected by this decision, SBCERA will contact you directly by mail with more information and direct contact information to your respective Retirement Specialist. We’re currently working to identify this affected group and we will reach out to you as soon as we can.

What does it mean if you are part of this affected group and you have been receiving retirement benefits based on a Final Average Compensation (FAC) period which includes pay items that should have been excluded based on the Supreme Court’s decision? It means two things:

  1. You received an overpayment of benefits since your benefit calculation at the time of retirement included PEPRA excluded items. However, based on the Board’s adoption of Resolution 2020-6, SBCERA will not recoup benefit overpayments directly from you from the date of your retirement through July 31, 2020—unless so directed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a court of law.
  2. SBCERA will make a “corrective distribution” to you if the contributions you paid on the affected pay items exceed any retirement benefit you may have received associated with those same items. If you are eligible for a corrective distribution, we will calculate the amount owed to you and provide you with details in a future correspondence.

Importantly, if you are a retiree and your compensation earnable used to calculate your FAC period did not include any of these pay items, you will not be affected by this decision.

Active and Deferred Members: If you are still working as an active member of SBCERA or if you are no longer working but not yet retired, you may be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. That’s because the Supreme Court’s decision said that retirement systems like SBCERA do not have the authority to use certain pay items in the calculation of your retirement benefits.

If you are an active or deferred member, there are two types of pay items in question that SBCERA must not include in your “compensation earnable” used to calculate your Final Average Compensation (FAC) period:

  1. PEPRA Exclusion: Any pay item for additional services rendered outside of normal working hours, such as standby pay, on-call pay, and call-back pay, etc.
  2. Alameda Exclusion: Non-compensation items such as employer-paid premiums to a third-party (e.g. insurance providers) or in-kind cash.

Additionally, if you are part of this affected group, you may be entitled to a refund, in the form of a “corrective distribution”, on payments you may have made on the excluded pay items noted above. The following section provides more information on these refunds.

What happens to the contributions I paid to SBCERA—will I get a refund? 

If you are an active or deferred member (or if you retired on or after July 30, 2020), the contributions you may have made on either the Alameda or PEPRA excluded items will be handled differently, depending on the type of the excluded item. Resolution 2020-6 outlines the approach for the administration of these corrections. In short, here’s how these will be handled:

PEPRA Exclusions: 

  • Corrective Distributions to active and deferred members (and those who retired on or after July 30, 2020): You may receive a “corrective distribution” to you on contributions you may have made from January 1, 2013 through August 29, 2020 on the excluded types of pay items in this category of additional services rendered outside of normal working hours, which include items such as standby pay, on-call pay, and call-back pay. Contributions made prior to the implementation of the enactment of PEPRA on January 1, 2013 will not be refunded, because those contributions were eligible for inclusion in compensation earnable for members who retired prior to the implementation of PEPRA. 

Alameda Exclusions:

  • Refunds for active and deferred members (and those who retired on or after July 30, 2020) on Non-compensation items such as employer-paid premiums to a third-party  (“Alameda Exclusions”): The SBCERA Board of Retirement determined that you should receive a corrective distribution to you on all contributions you may have made prior to July 30, 2020 on certain types of employer-paid premiums to a third-party. That’s because these pay items are not eligible to be included in your compensation earnable used to calculate your Final Average Compensation (FAC) period.

Who’s Not Affected

You are not affected by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Alameda case if you have not received any standby pay, on-call pay, call-back pay, or employer paid premiums made to a third-party. Other common items of compensation, service time and benefits are not at issue in the Alameda case—including base pay, vacation, annual leave, holiday pay, and service purchases.

Additionally, if you are a Tier 2 member who was hired on or after January 1, 2013 and received compensation for any PEPRA or Alameda excluded pay items, the Alameda decision won’t affect your Final Average Compensation (FAC) because those pay codes are not includes in your FAC for retirement benefit calculations. 

While PEPRA is applicable to all SBCERA members, most members are not directly affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alameda.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Alameda case all about?

In Alameda the California Supreme Court addressed two issues.  First, the court addressed whether retirement systems were prohibited by prior settlement agreements from implementing statutory changes to retirement systems.  Second, the court addressed the constitutionality of legislative changes to the retirement law that excluded certain pay items from compensation earnable for legacy members of the retirement systems.

These issues first arose when the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) became effective on January 1, 2013.  PEPRA mostly affected people who were hired after the effective date.  Some parts of PEPRA, however, affect retirement system members who were hired prior to the effective date.  These members are referred to as “legacy members.”

PEPRA changed the definition of compensation earnable for legacy members.  Compensation earnable is the compensation SBCERA uses to calculate retirement benefits.  PEPRA excluded from compensation earnable pay for services rendered outside of normal working hours and pay that was provided in order to increase a member’s retirement benefit, and it also placed limits on the inclusion of leave cash-out payments in compensation earnable.  Retirement system members in Alameda, Contra Costa, Merced, and Marin counties sued their retirement systems claiming that exclusion of these items from compensation earnable was prohibited, because the retirement systems previously entered settlement agreements that included the items in compensation earnable—and  the exclusion of the pay items was not compensated by a benefit of equal value.  Three of the four cases were consolidated into the Alameda case. 

What did the Supreme Court say in Alameda?

The Supreme Court upheld the exclusion of the pay items from compensation earnable.  First, the court said that the retirement systems were not prohibited from excluding the pay items by the settlement agreements because the California Legislature passed a new law that changed the definition of compensation earnable.  The Supreme Court said that the retirement systems must follow the law that the Legislature provided when it enacted PEPRA, and the retirement systems do not have the authority to disobey the law despite the settlement agreements.  Second, the Supreme Court held that the changes to compensation earnable were constitutional and did not interfere with the contract between employers and employees because the changes were related to the ongoing health of the retirement systems. The court also excluded payments to third parties such as medical premium payments.

Which counties does this decision affect?

The Supreme Court’s decision affects all 20 of the county retirement systems that operate under the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL).  SBCERA is the retirement system for San Bernardino County and other employers in the county.  SBCERA is one of the retirement systems that operates under the CERL. 

If I am an active employee, and I retire now, will I be able to keep on-call and stand-by pay in my compensation earnable?

No.  The court said that the retirement systems must follow the statute and do not have the authority to disobey the statute once it became law.  The SBCERA Board of Retirement adopted a resolution that requires SBCERA to immediately comply with the Alameda case and the PEPRA changes to compensation earnable.

Why did SBCERA previously include these items in compensation earnable?

PEPRA raised many questions when it became law.  The constitutionality of several provisions in PEPRA has been challenged.  The Alameda case is one of those challenges.  Because of the challenges, the SBCERA Board of Retirement decided to continue to include the pay items until the issue was settled in the courts.

I’m an Active or Deferred Member. How can I currently see an accurate retirement estimate based on Alameda exclusions?

You can run an estimate in your mySBCERA account. If you don’t have a mySBCERA account, you can sign up at www.SBCERA.org/mySBCERA. (Once you are in your account, select “Estimate a Benefit.”) Although most of the PEPRA and Alameda excluded pay items have been removed from mySBCERA and will be excluded from your estimate, there are a few items still under review which are noted in the table below.

Upon completion of the review, the Board of Retirement will determine whether these items will continue to be included in, or excluded from, compensation earnable. If the determination is made to exclude these pay items, the exclusion effective date will also be determined by the Board.

final Pay Item Under Review
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Reporting Agency
PK9 RK9 Paid Canine Officer Pay County

*This code is currently under review, but it has been removed from mySBCERA and will not currently be used in the calculation of your retirement benefits estimate.

My former spouse is receiving a portion of my retirement as a result of our divorce. Will my former spouse’s payments be recalculated too?

Yes, if your former spouse is receiving a percentage of your benefit pursuant to a Domestic Relations Order.  Your former spouse will continue to receive the same percentage, but the dollar amount will be reduced due to the recalculation.

Do I owe any money to SBCERA?

SBCERA is exploring this issue.  SBCERA will take action consistent with state and federal law, including IRS rules.

I am retired, and my compensation earnable included medical premium payments. Does the Alameda decision affect me?

The SBCERA Board of Retirement determined that the mandatory exclusion of medical premium payments from compensation earnable is a new interpretation of the law.  Therefore, the exclusion of medical premium payments from compensation earnable will not affect any retirees who retired before July 30, 2020.

I am an active employee, and I have been paying contributions on medical premiums with the understanding that the premium payments would be included in my compensation earnable. What is SBCERA going to do with my contributions if the medical premium payments are no longer included in compensation earnable?

The SBCERA Board has directed staff to refund all contributions made on medical premium payments.  For current employees, the refunds will be made through your employer.  For deferred members, the payments will be made directly to you.  You should consult with a tax professional to determine the tax issues of this refund.

Status on Refunds for Active Members

We are still working on refunds for our members affected by the Alameda Supreme Court decision.

SBCERA is actively working with its participating employers to determine the amounts of the refunds. In some cases, calculation of the refunds may require additional reporting from our employers. While there is still not a definitive timeline for processing corrections or providing refunds to members, we are currently working to make these calculations. As soon as we have more information, we will communicate with the affected members directly in a letter. Those communications will provide the amounts of the refunds for those affected members, as well as the timeline and the manner in which the refunds will be paid.

What about interest?

At its Board Meeting on April 1, 2021, the Board of Retirement determined how interest will be calculated on refunds. The Board approved an approach in which interest for the Alameda-related refunds would be credited in accordance with the “Member Crediting Rate” outlined in Actuary and Audit Policy No. 002, “Interest Crediting Procedures and Undesignated Excess Earnings Allocation.” The Member Crediting Rate is the lesser of the assumed investment earnings, or the six-month T-bill rate as of the last public auction. A table of SBCERA’s historical Member Crediting Rate can be found in the link below.

SBCERA History of Member Crediting Rate

What about cash-outs?

The Alameda case clarified that cash-outs which may exceed what is earned and payable in each 12-month period during a member’s Final Average Compensation (FAC) period must be excluded as compensation earnable, effective July 30, 2020. These types of cash-outs are recognized as an Alameda Exclusion. This practice of including two maximum cash-outs from two separate calendar years is sometimes called “straddling” and is clearly prohibited, based on the Alameda decision.

Upon a member’s retirement, SBCERA will ensure that any cash-out dollars which are included in the member’s FAC are consistent with the clarifications provided by the Alameda decision.

Pay Items in Question

As part of the Alameda decision, there are two types of excluded pay items:

PEPRA Exclusion: Any pay item for additional services rendered outside of normal working hours, such as standby pay, on-call pay, and call-back pay.

Alameda Exclusion: Non-compensation items such as employer-paid premiums to a third-party (e.g. insurance providers).

Within these two types of exclusions are specific pay items classified by your employer. The exclusion of these pay codes have different effective dates based on the Alameda decision and related SBCERA Board Resolutions.

Excluded Pay Items

Barstow Fire Protection District
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda 1200 N/A Empl Group Ins Employer Paid Medical/Dental 7/30/2020
Alameda BFMED N/A Empl Paid Medical/Dental  7/30/2020
Alameda LLIP N/A Empl Paid Medical/Dental Insurance Premium  
Big Bear Fire Authority
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda  BASB BARSB Stand By Pay 7/30/2020
California State Association of Counties
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda CSINS CSRIN Association Paid Medical and Dental Insurance Premiums 7/30/2020
Alameda  1200 N/A Employer Group Insurance Employer Paid Medical/Dental 7/30/2020
Alameda BFMED N/A Employer Paid Medical/Dental Insurance Premium 7/30/2020
Alameda CHFBP N/A Employer Paid Flexible Benefit Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda LLIP N/A Employer Paid Medical and Dental Insurance Premium 7/30/2020
Alameda MAFBP N/A Employer Paid Medical and Dental Insurance Premium 7/30/2020
City of Big Bear Lake
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda BBFBP BBRFB Employer Paid Flexible Benefit Plan; Alternative Insurance Benefit Program 7/30/2020
Alameda BBEFB BBREF Employer Paid Flexible Benefit – Excess Cash Paid to Member 7/30/2020
Alameda BBSB BBRSB Stand By Pay 7/30/2020
Alameda BPSY1 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda MASB N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda HPSY1 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda BFSY1 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda FLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda BBFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda ILFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda CHFBP N/A Emp Paid Flex Benefit Dollars 7/30/2020
City of Chino Hills
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
PEPRA CHOC CHR24 On-Call Pay-Employees Assigned to 24 Hour On-Call Duty  1/1/2013
PEPRA CHOCD CHROC On-Call Differential for Specific Supervisory Classes 1/1/2013
Alameda CHFBP CHRFX Employer Paid Flexible Benefit Dollars – 3rd Party Premium 7/30/2020
Alameda BBFBP N/A Employer Paid Flexible Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda BPFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda FLX RFX Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda ILFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda SBFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda BPOC1 ROC On Call 7/30/2020
Alameda BFOC1   On Call 7/30/2020
Crestline Sanitation District
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda CSDC07 CSDRCB Call Back 7/30/2020
Alameda CSDSY1 CSDRSB Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda SY6 RY6 Standby Minimum Wage 7/30/2020
Alameda CSDFLX CSDRFX Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars – Excess Cash Paid to Member 7/30/2020
Alameda BFCB1 N/A Call Back – 2Xs Base Pay Rate 7/30/2020
Alameda BFOC1 N/A On Call  7/30/2020
Alameda MAOC N/A On Call  7/30/2020
Alameda OC1 CSDROC On Call  7/30/2020
Alameda BFSY1 N/A On Call 7/30/2020
Alameda HPSY1 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda 1218 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda C07 N/A On Call  7/30/2020
Alameda 1219 N/A On Call  7/30/2020
Alameda SY1 N/A Standby 7/30/2020
Department of Water & Power of the City of Big Bear Lake
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda BBFBB BBRFP Employer Paid Flexible Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda BBSB BBRSB Stand By Pay 7/30/2020
Alameda BBFBP N/A Emp Paid Flexible Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda BPFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda FLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Alameda ILFLX N/A Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
Hesperia Recreation and Park District 
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda BFMED N/A Employer Paid Premium 7/30/2020
Alameda OC7 N/A On Call (Hesperia) 7/30/2020
Law Library for San Bernardino County
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda LLIP LLRIP Employer Paid Medical and Dental Insurance Premiums 7/30/2020
Local Agency Formation Commission
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda FLX N/A Flexible Benefit   
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda MASB MARSB Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda MAOC MAROC1 On Call 7/30/2020
Alameda MAFBP MARFB Employer Paid Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda FLX N/A Employer Paid Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda ILFLX N/A Employer Paid Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
Alameda LAFLX N/A Employer Paid Benefit Plan 7/30/2020
San Bernardino County
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
Alameda C01 RY1 Standby CNT – $2.50 7/30/2020
Alameda C02 RY1 Standby CNT – $3.50 7/30/2020
Alameda C03 Ry1 Standby CNT – Min Wage 7/30/2020
Alameda C05 RC1 On Call CNT – $2.50 7/30/2020
Alameda C06 RC1 On Call CNT – $3.50 7/30/2020
Alameda C12 RDM Weekend CBT Diff – $3.00 7/30/2020
Alameda CB1 RCB Call Back – 2 Times BRP 7/30/2020
Alameda CB2 RCB Call Back – 3 Times BRP @Prn 7/30/2020
Alameda D06 N/A Lab Tech $10/Call 7/30/2020
Alameda D07 N/A Lab Tech $16 7/30/2020
Alameda D08 N/A Lab Tech $32 7/30/2020
Alameda D09 RDM Diff Weekend 7/30/2020
Alameda D56 RDM Diff Weekend 7/30/2020
Alameda OC1 ROC On Call 7/30/2020
Alameda OC2 ROC On Call Safety 7/30/2020
Alameda OC3 ROC On Call OC 7/30/2020
Alameda OC4 ROC On Call Safety OC 7/30/2020
Alameda OC5 RC5 On Call – Special District 7/30/2020
Alameda OC6 ROC On Call – $3.50 7/30/2020
Alameda OC7 N/A On Call (Hesperia) 7/30/2020
Alameda OC8 N/A On Call Fire 7/30/2020
Alameda OC9 ROC On Call Critical 7/30/2020
Alameda SY1 RSB Standby 7/30/2020
Alameda SY2 RSB Standby-Minimum Wage 7/30/2020
Alameda SY3 RSB Standby – Minimum Wage Fire 7/30/2020
Alameda SY4 RSB Standby – Amounts Only 7/30/2020
Alameda SY5 RSB Standby SY 7/30/2020
Alameda SY6 RSB Standby – Fed Minimum Wage 7/30/2020
PEPRA DCH RCV Chief Officer Coverage Pay 1/1/2013
PEPRA DSG RSO Diff Safety Officer Pay GFathr 1/1/2013
PEPRA DCR RCV Chief Officer Coverage Pay Premium 1/1/2013
PEPRA DSO RSO Safety Officer Coverage 1/1/2013
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority 
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description  
Alameda FL1 N/A Flex – Manual Pay 7/30/2020
Alameda FLX RFX Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 7/30/2020
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
PEPRA AQSP AQRSP Standby Pay 7/30/2020
Alameda AQD AQRD Dental 7/30/2020
Alameda AQLI AQRLI Life Insurance 7/30/2020
Alameda AQM AQRM Medical 7/30/2020
Alameda AQV AQRV Vision 7/30/2020
Superior Court of San Bernardino County
Pay Item Type Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description Exclusion Effective Date
PEPRA SPOC SPROC On Call 1/1/2013
PEPRA SPSB SPRSB Standby 1/1/2013
PEPRA SPS1 SPRS1 Standby – Minimum Wage 1/1/2013
Alameda SPFLX SPRFX Flexible Benefit Plan Dollars 1/1/2013

Pay Items Reviewed and Approved

SBCERA staff has reviewed the following pay items and the SBCERA Board of Retirement determined that these items are approved to be included in compensation earnable. 

California State Association of Counties
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description
CSHIB CSRHB Health Insurance Buyouts
City of Chino Hills
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description
CHFBO N/A Flexible Benefit Opt-Out – Cash to Member
CHFBE N/A Flexible Benefit – Excess Cash to Member
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description
FLXC N/A Flexible Benefit Plan – Excess Cash Paid to Member
100 N/A Internet Allowance
L01 N/A Personal Computer Allowance
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description
AQBC AQRMC Employer Paid Benefit Cap (Excess Cash Paid to Member)
Superior Court of San Bernardino
Earnings Code Retro Earnings Code Earnings Code Description
SPRTC SPRRC Retirement – Excess Cash
SPFLC SPRFL Flexible Benefit Plan – Excess Cash Paid to Members

Based on the employers’ descriptions of the pay items above, the SBCERA Board determined that the reporting of the cash paid to the employee remaining in excess of the insurance payment is proper and should be treated as compensation earnable for Tier 1 SBCERA members. This conclusion is based on the fact that the “excess cash” is paid to all employees in the same job classification, and thus is compensation within the meaning of Government Code section 31460. This means only the portion that is received directly in cash by the employee, and not as a reimbursement for the purchase of insurance, should be reported as compensation earnable.

More information can be found on our Employer Pay Codes page. 

Information Regarding Appeals for Retirees Receiving Recalculations

If you are an SBCERA retiree who has received a recalculation of your benefit due to the Alameda decision, you have certain appeal rights.

Because the Supreme Court’s decision in Alameda mandates the exclusion of specific benefits from your Final Average Compensation (FAC), you may not appeal the legality of the statutory exclusions themselves. That topic has already been resolved by the highest court in California. The sole issue(s) for determination on the foregoing administrative appeals are described below.

What can I appeal? 

You may appeal if you assert that any of the following are true for you:

  • The benefit in question was “compensation” under Government Code section 31460 and “compensation earnable” under Government Code section 31461. 
  • SBCERA calculations or other numerical data provided above are incorrect.
  • I retired from SBCERA before the effective date of the law that SBCERA is applying to me.

Can I request to appeal the recalculation of my benefit due to the Alameda decision? 

Yes, you may complete an Alameda Decision Appeal Request form that serves as an official request to appeal how the Alameda decision may affect you. 

How can I appeal the recalculation? 

To appeal, you must submit your request within 30 days of the postmark date of your mailed correspondence letter by completing an Alameda Decision Appeal Request form with supporting documentation. The form serves as your official request for an appeal, and is available below.

Alameda Appeal Request Form

Where do I send my Alameda Decision Appeal Request form? 

Please send the Alameda Decision Appeal Request form, supporting documentation, and any other appeals correspondence to the attention of the SBCERA Legal Services Department at 348 W. Hospitality Lane, Suite 100, San Bernardino, California 92408, or by email at BORLegalServices@sbcera.org.

Can I request an extension to file my appeal?

You can request an extension to file your appeal in writing to SBCERA. Your request for an extension must be filed within 30 days of the postmark of your original notice letter. Generally, the deadline for you to file for an extension was October 28, 2020, but may vary due to the postmark date of your notice letter. 

Please send your written request to our Legal Services Department by email at BORLegalServices@sbcera.org, or by mail at:

SBCERA Legal Services Department
348 W. Hospitality Lane, Suite 100
San Bernardino, California 92408

I submitted an appeal. What’s next?

Initial determination letters are sent to members as staff completes the analysis of all relevant information.

At its May 6, 2021 meeting, the SBCERA Board of Retirement amended SBCERA Resolution No. 2020-8.1 to clarify the administrative hearing process for appeals. The amendment (linked below) outlines the next steps in this process and provides details on the process.

Resolution 2020-8.02 Regarding Approval of Appeals Process for Benefit Determinations by the Alameda Decision

What’s next?

  • Grouping of Appeals: In some circumstances and based on applicable Memorandum of Understands (MOUs) or the pay item(s) at issue, some members may be grouped together for the administrative hearing process. Legal Counsel will make this determination.
  • Direct Correspondence from SBCERA: SBCERA will mail a letter with more information regarding the status of your appeal and confirm next steps for the administrative hearing process.
  • Hearing Officer Assigned: A hearing officer will be assigned to your case, generally several weeks after the initial determination letter is sent to you. Hearing officers are selected from an established group who generally hear SBCERA’s disability-related cases.
  • Pre-Hearing Statement: Once a hearing officer is assigned, you will have 30 days to respond with a written pre-hearing statement. At this time, you may provide additional documentation and submit applicable information.
  • SBCERA’s Written Response: SBCERA will then submit a written response to your statement and send it to your assigned hearing officer.
  • Recommendation to the Board: The hearing officer will review the materials and documentation provided by the member and SBCERA, then submit their recommendation to the Board of Retirement within 90 days from the date of assignment. The hearing officer may extend their recommendation submission up to 150 days.

We appreciate your patience as we process your appeal.

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