Frequently Asked Questions

General Information for HR Professionals

  1. How do I contact LACERA?

    The HR Pros hotline number is: 800-659-2786. The e-mail address is: hrpros@lacera.com. Call or e-mail to get priority treatment from the knowledgeable Retirement Benefits Specialists in our Call Center.

  2. Where is LACERA located?

    LACERA is located in the Gateway Plaza Building, at 300 N. Lake Avenue, in Pasadena. Employees can contact LACERA via phone at 800-786-6464 or email at welcome@lacera.com for questions about their retirement benefits. For more information, see Contact Us on lacera.com.

  3. Who should I notify if I change my email address?

    Send your new email address to LACERA at welcome@lacera.com. In the email, please identify yourself as an HR professional.

  4. How often is the New Retirees List updated on HR Pros?

    The board-approved New Retirees List, which is the official list of the latest service retirements, is posted weekly.

Disability Retirement

  1. Do all LACERA plans include disability retirement?

    No. This is an important distinction between Plan E and contributory plans A, B, C, D, and G: Plan E does not include disability retirement. However, employees in Plans A, B, C, D, and G may apply for disability retirement by meeting certain requirements.

  2. What kinds of disability retirement are there for active employees?

    LACERA’s contributory retirement plans provide disability retirement for active members who are determined by the Board of Retirement to be permanently incapacitated for the performance of their regular job duties.

    There are two categories of disability retirement: Service-Connected Disability Retirement and Nonservice-Connected Disability Retirement.

    Service-Connected Disability Retirement:

    • Must be a permanent disability
    • Requires a direct causational link to the workplace
    • Eligibility begins on first day of employment

    Nonservice-Connected Disability Retirement:

    • Must have a permanent disability
    • No direct link to workplace
    • Must have at least five years (60 months) of service
  3. Is the Board of Retirement bound by Workers’ Compensation rulings on applications for disability retirement?

    No. The Board of Retirement is a separate legal entity, empowered to make its own finding of fact. It has a fiduciary duty to independently investigate each disability claim and make its own determination.

  4. If an employee is unable to process his/her own disability retirement application, can an HR professional help?

    Yes, you may file on the employee’s behalf. Request the Employer Disability Retirement Package on the Brochures & Forms page of lacera.com. The package contains the Disability Retirement brochure, the application, eligibility information, and the Supplemental Medical Release form.

  5. If granted a disability retirement by the Board of Retirement, can an employee exhaust any vacation/sick time before the retirement allowances begin?

    An employee may use any remaining sick time and 4850 benefits but not vacation time. Payment in full for any remaining holiday or vacation time will be included in termination pay. The employee should coordinate with LACERA and your department’s payroll office to make sure County sick time and 4850 benefits are exhausted before LACERA allowances begin.

Pre-Retirement Death

  1. What information does LACERA have for survivors of employees to help them navigate the death benefit process?

    The Survivor & Death Benefits Q&A brochure, designed to help expedite survivor benefits, guides survivors and beneficiaries through the death reporting process. The brochure is organized into separate sections for Active Safety and Active General employees.

    LACERA's Survivor & Death Benefits Information Card is a helpful resource for all active and retired members to have on hand. The card provides basic LACERA information about the employee, LACERA contact information, and other important phone numbers that may be helpful when applying for death benefits.

    You can order both pieces through the HR Pros Print Material Order form and submit online.

  2. What information should I provide to the survivor of an employee who suffered a service-connected death?

    Begin by providing the survivor with the Survivor (Service-Connected Death) Package, which includes the required forms, and the Survivor & Death Benefits Q&A Brochure. The materials are available on the Brochures & Forms page. For additional assistance, the survivor should contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 and speak with a Retirement Benefits Specialist.

Retirement

  1. When employees become eligible to retire, will LACERA automatically retire them?

    No. Employees must contact LACERA at 800-786-6464 or visit LACERA’s Member Service Center to initiate an application for retirement. LACERA does not automatically retire employees.* In order to retire with confidence, we recommend employees attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop five years prior to retiring. For more retirement planning information, see the Process of Retiring page.

    *One exception is employees with double accounts (service credit in both Plan D and Plan E). They may retire at age 50 for Plan D and then be automatically retired at 55 for Plan E.

  2. Do employees report to work on their retirement dates?

    No. Employees should not report to work on their retirement dates. For example, if an employee’s effective retirement date is September 10, the employee does not report to work on that day. The last day at work would be September 9.

  3. Why do employees tend to retire in the beginning of the year?

    Many employees take advantage of the April 1st COLA by retiring by March 31. It is best to consult with a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist, as factors like birth date and age are also important in choosing a retirement date. For more information, see COLA on lacera.com.

Returning to County Service

  1. Which retirement plan will an employee be enrolled in when returning to County service?
    • Employees who deferred their retirement contributions must resume membership in their previous plan.
    • Employees who withdrew contributions can restore all the benefits of their previous plan by electing Plan D and redepositing all past contributions plus interest.
    • Former Plan E members may elect either Plan D or Plan E when they return to service.

    For more information, see the Return to Service page on lacera.com. NOTE: Before making these decisions, employees should speak with a Retirement Benefits Specialist at 800-786-6464.

  2. Can a retiree return to work for the County?

    Some retirees can, for up to 120 days (960 hours in a 12-month period). Eligible retirees cannot have received unemployment insurance from prior County employment during the 12-month period prior to the temporary employment. Also, they must wait 180 days from their date of retirement before returning to County work, unless the retiree is a public safety officer or a firefighter or the employer certifies that it's necessary to fill a critically needed position. PEPRA prohibits the County from hiring a LACERA employee as a contract employee. The retiree must be paid at a rate not less than the minimum nor greater than the maximum rate paid by the County to other employees performing comparable duties. Finally, the hiring must be approved the Board of Supervisors (or the Board of Retirement, for LACERA positions). During post-retirement employment, the employee will not accrue any additional LACERA pension benefits, nor will the employee pay contributions. For more information, see Working After Retirement on lacera.com.

Other Factors Affecting Benefits

  1. If an employee gets divorced, what paperwork must be provided to LACERA?

    A conformed copy (with the court clerk’s filing date stamp and the judge’s signature) of all the pages of the employee’s Judgment of Dissolution must be provided to LACERA immediately following divorce proceedings. If the judgment states a further order is required, the employee must provide LACERA with copies of a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). If the employee is unsure about the need for additional documents, LACERA’s Legal Division will review the final judgment to ascertain if an additional order is required. NOTE: The employee must provide LACERA with the aforementioned documents before he/she is eligible to receive retirement benefits. For more information, see Dissolution of Marriage on lacera.com

  2. Does LACERA have reciprocity with the City of Los Angeles?

    LACERA does have a reciprocity agreement with Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System, as it does with many other California public agencies and districts, cities, counties, school districts, etc. However, to be eligible for reciprocity, an individual must have terminated employment at one public agency (in this case, the City of Los Angeles) before beginning County service. Overlapping service disqualifies an individual for reciprocity. Employment with L.A. County must begin within six months of terminating employment at the previous public agency. See Reciprocity on lacera.com.

  3. How is the retirement allowance calculated for an employee who earned service credit in Plan E and Plan D?

    If an employee retires with service credit in both plans (double accounts), the retirement benefit will be a combined allowance. First, the employee’s retirement allowance under each plan will be calculated separately, based on the service credit earned under that plan. Then, the two amounts will be added together to determine the total monthly allowance.

    The employee may retire from each individual plan upon meeting the minimum retirement age for that particular plan and service credit requirements. If the employee retires from Plan D and is under 55, the Plan E retirement benefits automatically become effective on the date of his or her 55th birthday. LACERA will send the employee a letter one month before the employee’s 55th birthday regarding the effective date of Plan E retirement benefit payments.

  4. Are purchases of Additional Retirement Credit (ARC) prohibited for current members?

    Yes. All LACERA members, regardless of hire date, will be prohibited from purchasing Additional Retirement Credit (ARC) as of January 1, 2013.

  5. Has PEPRA affected my existing ARC purchase contract?

    Existing ARC contracts are not affected by PEPRA.

  6. Though elected public officers forfeit all retirement rights and benefits if they’re convicted of a felony arising out of their official duties, current California Government Code states that the convicted official can receive retirement benefits if the governing body of the official’s employer authorizes it. Is this still the same?

    No. PEPRA broadens the law and establishes pension forfeiture, without exception, for all public employees convicted of a job-related felony.

  7. If a Plan E employee is terminated while receiving County long-term disability benefits, does the employee continue to earn service credit?

    Yes. Service credit continues to be earned in Plan E until the disability benefits end. This allows the department to fill an item for an employee who may never return. See Terminating Service.

  8. Can an employee withdraw retirement contributions from LACERA while in active service?

    No. Federal law prohibits this practice. The only way to withdraw contributions is if the employee terminates County service.

Workshops

  1. Will LACERA come to L.A. County job sites and provide workshops to employees?

    Yes. LACERA’s Retirement Benefits Specialists will present a customized workshop at your location for groups of ten or more employees. HR professionals can contact LACERA’s Workshop Coordinator at 626-564-6000, ext. 3384 to schedule a workshop.

  2. When should employees attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop?

    We suggest employees attend a Pre-Retirement Workshop within five years of the intended retirement date. For more information, see the schedule for Pre-Retirement Workshop on lacera.com.

3/26/14