1.What is reciprocity?
Reciprocity provides an employee with portability by allowing
that employee to leave retirement contributions on deposit
regardless of length of service and take a deferred retirement.
It allows eligible members to move from one employer to another
(during a six-month period) without any loss of credited service
or vesting years.
2.What are the benefits to establishing reciprocity?
– Lower contribution rates, which reflect your earliest entry age
among reciprocal retirement systems
– Uniform vesting periods, which consider your earliest entry or
membership date and the total service among reciprocal retirement
– Uniform salary assumptions, which consider your highest
earnings period among reciprocal retirement systems
3.What are the requirements for establishing reciprocity?
– You cannot withdraw your contributions from the system(s) you
wish to link
– You cannot be receiving a retirement from the system(s) you
wish to link
– The time between systems cannot be greater than 6 months
– The other system must be another California 37 act county, The
California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTERS), the
California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), or
another pension plan that has reciprocity with CalPERS
– You must not have concurrent or overlapping service credit with
MercedCERA and the reciprocal system. Exhausting leave balances
that count as service credit and/or extending your separation
date under your previous system beyond your hire date with an
MercedCERA-covered employer will disqualify you for
– You must retire from all systems at the same time, unless
section 31835.1 applies (section allows for different retirement
dates if unable to retire on same date due to different age
and/or service requirements)
4.How do I establish reciprocity?
Please contact MercedCERA at 209-726-2724 for the appropriate
forms. The member and MercedCERA must also contact the other
5.What Counties operate under County Employees Retirement Law of
Counties that operate under County
Employees Retirement Law of 1937 include:
- Contra Costa
- Los Angeles
- Santa Barbara
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Joaquin
- San Mateo
6.Can I withdraw my contributions if I establish reciprocity at a
If you have established reciprocity, the 1937 Act will not allow
you to withdraw your member contributions while you are in
employment in a position covered by a reciprocal retirement
7.What happens if I withdraw my contributions after I have
Consequences of withdrawing your contributions include:
– You will lose the lower contribution rates and retroactive
increase of amounts previously required by MercedCERA
– You will lose uniform vesting periods
– You will lose uniform salary assumptions
8.Can I work for both systems at the same time and establish
No. Reciprocity does not apply when your employment under the
first system overlaps your employment under the new system. For
the benefits of reciprocity to apply, you must be separated under
the first system prior to joining the new system.
This is true even if the overlapping time is due to running out
leave credits. You should check with both retirement systems
about their rules before you change employment. The overlap must
be resolved, if possible, in order to establish reciprocity.
9.Does MercedCERA notify the other system when I submit a
No. It is your responsibility to notify the other system when you
plan to retire.
10.Do I have to retire from both systems at the same time?
Yes. Regardless of the type of retirement you are electing you
must retire from both systems at the same time.
11.Does MercedCERA use all my time at both systems to determine
my benefit amount?
No. MercedCERA will use the service time from the other system
ONLY to determine eligibility. The actual benefit amount will be
based solely on your time with MercedCERA.
12. What are my options for a disability allowance at MercedCERA
if I have reciprocity?
Your allowance will depend on whether or not you have reached the
maximum allowance permitted per the 37 act. If the allowance at
the other system is already paying you the maximum benefit amount
permitted MercedCERA allowance will be an annuity, which is the
actuarial equivalent of your accumulated contributions. If you
have not reached the maximum benefit allowed MercedCERA will
coordinate the benefit with the other retirement agency. You must
contact both systems when applying for a disability allowance for
13.Will my beneficiary receive a death benefit from both systems?
No. The death benefit is paid by the last system you were at.
MercedCERA pays a $3,000 death benefit. You will have to contact
the other system to determine what their death benefit allowance
14.If I do establish reciprocity will I get reimbursed for the
period I was paying contributions at a higher entry age level?
Yes. Only if you notify MercedCERA within a reasonable time frame
(usually within 1 month of employment) that you wish to establish
reciprocity and our ability to verify reciprocity has not been
impaired by any actions you may have taken.
15.If I never showed any interest to establish reciprocity in the
past, but wish to do so now, can I?
Yes. You may establish reciprocity at any time as long as you
meet the requirements, but you will not be reimbursed for any
contributions you paid due to a higher entry age level.
16.Does my sick leave balance get converted into years of service
if I terminate employment and establish reciprocity with another
system and MercedCERA?
No. Your sick leave balance will only get converted into years of
service if the reason for terminating employment with an
MercedCERA participating employer (excluding Cemetery District)
is due to retirement.
17.If I have established reciprocity and I need my contributions
for a medical emergency may I withdraw my accumulated
contributions at MercedCERA?
No. MercedCERA will not allow you
to withdraw your accumulated contributions at any time if you
have established reciprocity unless you are no longer working
with an MercedCERA participating employer and the other system
has allowed you to withdraw your contributions.