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Reciprocity allows you to preserve your retirement benefits when you change employment between public employers who offer a benefit through public pension systems.

Reciprocity exists between SDCERA and many public agencies in California. You may establish incoming or outgoing reciprocity. It is important that you establish reciprocity in a timely manner because it could affect your tier, contribution rate and retirement eligibility. Contact your former retirement system to obtain the appropriate forms to establish reciprocity.

Some important points to remember about reciprocity are:

  • At retirement, all reciprocal retirement systems will use your highest final average monthly compensation under any reciprocal system when calculating your retirement benefit.
  • Certain reciprocal systems use your entry age with your previous system when calculating your entry age. In some systems, this means your contribution rate could be less, depending on your tier. A delay in establishing reciprocity could affect your tier and contribution rate, which could delay your retirement. If you contributed too much, you could receive a refund, but if you did not contribute enough, you could be required to make additional contributions.
  • Reciprocal years are used to meet vesting and retirement eligibility criteria in all reciprocal retirement systems; however, the service credit you earn in each system does not transfer from one system to another and service credit years are not combined for purposes of calculating your benefit(s) in each system.
  • You must retire from all reciprocal retirement systems on the same date by submitting a retirement application to each system (with limited exception for systems with a higher minimum age requirement).
  • You are eligible for full reciprocity as long as you leave your accumulated contributions on deposit with your former system and enter your new employer’s system within six months of your termination date from your previous system.
  • If you are not eligible for full reciprocity because you have more than six months between periods of active membership, you may be eligible for limited reciprocity. With limited reciprocity, you may use your service credit earned in the reciprocal system to help you vest and become eligible for a retirement benefit. Contact the reciprocal agency to verify whether or not benefits may be available to you from that agency.

Refer to the Reciprocity fact sheet to learn more about the benefits of reciprocity, and for a list of reciprocal agencies.