New Retiree Update: Delays for First Pension Check
Newly retired SCERS members may experience delays receiving their first pension check.
SCERS is currently averaging more than two months to process retirement applications from the date of retirement to the first payment. New retirees should be prepared to wait 75 days for the first payment, and it may take longer under certain circumstances.
Once the first payment is made, retirees can expect regular payments each month without interruption.
We are sorry for this inconvenience and recognize the hardship it can cause our members.
Why is it taking so long?
There are three major reasons for the delays:
- SCERS implemented a new pension administration system in late 2020 and that transition is ongoing. Staff is spending additional time double-checking final wage data to make sure it is accurate.
- The California Supreme Court issued a major ruling in July 2020 that is requiring staff to spend additional time reviewing Final Compensation data to determine if any pay items need to be excluded under the court order.
- There is a heavy volume of new retirement applications creating a backlog. Historically, almost 50% of retirements occur in the first three months of the year – January, February, March.
Is the delay because of COVID-19?
No. While our office is closed during the pandemic, all staff is working full-time from home. All retirement processing is completed electronically, and staff can access records and retirement cases remotely.
If it takes more than two months to process my pension, when will it be effective?
Your pension will be applied back to your retirement date. The April 1 COLA will be added if applicable.
How can I get updates on the status?
We will contact you regularly about the status of your application. If you have submitted a retirement application but have not been contacted by a SCERS benefit specialist, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is SCERS doing anything to improve this situation?
SCERS has added extra resources over the next few months to help review and update the wage data, assist with payroll processing, and provide additional IT support.
Once the new pension administration system is fully deployed in 2022, members will be able to file applications online and the end-to-end process will work much faster.
Didn’t SCERS fix this issue?
SCERS made major internal improvements in recent years to change processes and expedite retirement application turnaround. Most new retirees in 2019 and 2020 received their first pension checks within the 45-day goal that we strive to achieve.
With the new pension administration system, we are learning new business processes and are still transitioning wage data to the new system, which is taking extra time.
Will my health care coverage be impacted?
No. If you are a County employee, the County Employee Benefits Office coordinates health care coverage for retirees and enrolls a retiree immediately following the termination month so that there is no break in health coverage, on the presumption that there will be adequate funds being deducted out of the initial pension check to cover the health payments to the health care providers (i.e. Kaiser/Sutter/WHA/UHC). For more information, please contact the County Employee Benefits Office at 916-874-2020. SCERS does not provide health care benefits.
How long will it take to get back to the 45-day target?
We believe this is a temporary situation. We hope the backlog will be cleared by late May or early June as the volume of new retirement activity decreases.
Once again, we apologize for this inconvenience.