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Service Credit Purchase

Service credit is one of three factors used to determine your SDCERA retirement benefit. (The other two factors are your age at retirement and your final average compensation.) Before purchasing any service credit, you should evaluate carefully the cost of this purchase compared to your potential retirement benefit increase. SDCERA recommends that you discuss the service credit purchase with your financial or tax advisor.

You can pay for your service credit purchase by personal check, rollover from a tax-qualified plan, or payroll deduction. All service credit purchases must be completed prior to retirement.

You do not earn and cannot purchase SDCERA service credit between your hire date (the day you start working) and your SDCERA Membership entry date (which is the first pay period of the month following your first work day).

There are five (5) types of service credit that Active and Deferred SDCERA Members can purchase to increase their total service credit:

  • Redeposit of withdrawn contributions,
  • Eligible service prior to entering SDCERA Membership,
  • Sick leave or family medical leave without pay,
  • Eligible prior public agency employment, or
  • Military leave without pay.

Each type of service credit you can purchase is described below.


1. Redeposit of Withdrawn Contributions

If you have returned to active SDCERA Membership, but had taken a refund of your prior SDCERA retirement contributions when you left SDCERA Membership, you can restore this service credit by redepositing the contributions and interest you withdrew plus the additional interest that would have accrued in your account had you left your contributions in the account.

You cannot purchase partial service credit under this option. You must redeposit all of your prior contributions and interest in order to receive this service credit.

Please Note: if you were previously employed by the County of San Diego or are currently a Member of a reciprocal agency employed in a firefighting or law enforcement position, you may be able to redeposit prior withdrawn contributions and interest without reinstatement to SDCERA Membership. Call SDCERA's Member Service Center at 619-515-6800.


2. Eligible Service Prior to Entering SDCERA Membership

If you worked for the County of San Diego or another SDCERA participating employer (e.g., the Superior Court) in a temporary, hourly, or part-time position but were ineligible for SDCERA Membership at that time, you are eligible to purchase service credit for that employment period.

The cost of service credit for service prior to SDCERA Membership is calculated using the full Member contribution rate applicable to you when you first entered SDCERA Membership. This rate is applied to your eligible earnings during the period of time you wish to purchase. Interest at the current rate is also included and calculated from your membership entry date until completion of payment. Employer-paid contribution offsets are not applied.


3. Sick Leave or Family Medical Leave Without Pay

You may purchase service credit when you return to work after taking sick leave without pay. The sick leave must be for your own illness or injury, and your departmental payroll representative must confirm your leave hours on SDCERA's Request for Costs of Purchasing Service Credit form.

Keep in mind, however, that if your leave exceeds 12 or more consecutive months, you can only purchase 12 months of that time.

The cost of service credit for sick leave without pay is equal to the contributions you would have paid during the period you were on leave, plus interest. Employer-paid contribution offsets are not applied.


4. Eligible Prior Public Agency Employment

If you worked for another eligible public agency before you joined SDCERA Membership, you may be able to purchase SDCERA service credit for that employment period. Eligible prior public agencies include:

  • Federal agencies (e.g., United States Postal Service, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps). Prior military service, volunteer time, or unpaid service is not eligible.
  • The State of California.
  • Any city located in the County of San Diego.
  • Any public district located in the County of San Diego.

Your previous employer must verify your employment, and your previous retirement system must verify that you are not able to receive a retirement benefit for the employment time requested. You are responsible for initiating the verification process and confirming that your previous employer and retirement system have provided the supporting documentation to SDCERA.

The cost of prior public agency service credit is twice the amount of contributions that would have been required from you if you had earned the service credit as an SDCERA Member. The amount is based on the full Member contribution rate applicable when you first entered SDCERA Membership, applied to the amount of your eligible monthly earnings when you first became an SDCERA Member, plus interest. Employer-paid contribution offsets are not applied.

Refer to the Request for Cost of Purchasing Prior Public Agency Service Credit form for detailed instructions on how to initiate a service credit purchase for prior public agency service.

Below is a list of common former employers and retirement systems.

National Personnel Records Center

https://www.archives.gov/st-louis#address

Federal Retirement System
Verification:


https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/contact-retirement/

City of San Diego Employment and Retirement System Verification:

https://www.sdcers.org/About-SDCERS/Contact-Us.aspx



5. Military Leave Without Pay

Tier I, A, and B Members. You may be able to receive service credit at no cost if you took a leave of absence from your position with the County of San Diego (or other participating employer) to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and returned to active SDCERA Membership within 90 days following honorable discharge.

You may also be able to receive service credit if you resigned from your position with the County of San Diego (or other participating employer) to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and returned to active SDCERA Membership within one year following honorable discharge.

To request service credit for unpaid military service, complete SDCERA's Military Service Credit Request form.

Tier C Members. A Tier C Member who returns to active SDCERA Membership following military leave can purchase service credit for their military service.

Upon returning from military leave, the County Auditor and Controller is required to deduct funds automatically from a Tier C Member's pay for contributions that were missed during the unpaid military service. Within 90 days from reentry into active SDCERA Membership, you may choose to have no further contributions deducted from your pay for your unpaid military service by filling out the Military Service Credit Contribution Opt Out (Tier C Only) form.

If you choose not to have further contributions deducted from your pay for your unpaid military service, you may request to purchase the service credit for that period at a later date by completing SDCERA's Military Service Credit Request form.