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Cost of Living Adjustment (“COLA”) for Fiscal Year 2023

Date: May 13, 2022 Categories: Board, COLA, News Articles, Pension, Press Release

At its May 13, 2022 meeting, SDCERS’ Board of Administration approved the Cost of Living Adjustment (“COLA”) that will be applied to eligible SDCERS retirees’ (including active DROP participants) monthly pension benefit amount from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023. Your pension benefit will receive a COLA for Fiscal Year 2023 if your retirement or DROP entry date is on or before June 30, 2022.   Per San Diego Municipal Code section 24.1505 and section 1301 of the Port and Airport Plans, the COLA is calculated every year based on the change in the cost of living between the two previous Decembers, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (“CPI”), United States – All items. However, the maximum allowable increase in any given year is 2.0%.   In years where the COLA is greater than the maximum 2.0% (such as this year), the amount over 2% is added to what is called a “COLA bank.” A retiree’s COLA bank accumulates based on their fiscal year of retirement (or DROP entry), and each annual retiree group has its own COLA bank. In years that the CPI’s published COLA is less than 2%, each retiree group’s COLA bank may be able to increase the actual COLA received by the retiree up to a maximum of 2%, if that retiree group’s COLA bank has accrued enough funds from previous years where the published COLA was greater than 2%.   According to the CPI, the change in cost of living between December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was 7.0% (rounded to the nearest 1/10th of a percent). This means that everyone who is retired or participating in DROP as of June 30, 2022 will receive the maximum 2% COLA increase to their pension benefit, and bank the additional 5.0%.*  *The two members who are in the 1981 retirement plan will receive a COLA increase of 3.2%.   This is significant because that means those who receive the fiscal year 2023 COLA and add the additional 5.0% to their COLA banks are guaranteed to receive a 2% COLA in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, at the very least (assuming we do not experience a negative COLA in either year). Let’s look at a theoretical scenario to really see the significance – please remember that we have absolutely no way of predicting what the CPI’s published COLA will be in future years and this is very much a hypothetical example: If Sam Diego retires or enters DROP in June of 2022 and his monthly pension benefit is $5,000: You can see how the 5% addition to Sam’s COLA bank right off the bat can help ensure his benefit receives the maximum 2% increase in future years, when the published COLA is less than 2%. In the example above, we assumed that the published COLA applicable to fiscal years 2024-2029 was always between 1.4% and 2.0%. Note that if the published COLA is less in any given years, more would be subtracted from Sam’s COLA bank for those years. Conversely, if the published COLA is greater than 2.0% in any of the given years, then the amount above 2.0% would be once again added to his bank.   This article is not an attempt to persuade you to retire or enter DROP before July 1, 2022 – there are certainly other factors to consider, such as your age, upcoming salary increases, etc. (please review this article discussing factors to consider before deciding when to retire or enter DROP). However, as this is the highest published COLA we’ve seen since 1982, and it is very rare for a retiree to add such a large amount to their COLA bank in a single year, it’s worth noting and may factor into your decision to retire or enter DROP before July 1, 2022. (Note: You must enter DROP at the beginning of a pay period - so, if you enter in June 2022, your entry date must be either June 11 or June 25, 2022.)   If you are eligible to receive a fiscal year 2023 COLA, the applicable increase will be reflected in your July 2022 pension payment.   Learn More...

Active Member Beneficiaries & the Importance of Keeping Your Beneficiaries Updated

Date: Feb 24, 2022 Categories: Member Portal, Pension, Retirement Resources

When was the last time you thought about your SDCERS beneficiary designations? Over a year ago? Five years? The day you enrolled in SDCERS? Maybe never? Beneficiary designations may seem like a chore you can put off or do once and forget about, but the truth is you should review your beneficiary designations at least once a year to make sure they reflect your current circumstances. For example, beneficiary designations probably aren’t the first thing on your mind when you get married or divorced, have a child, or lose a loved one, but these are all defining life events that may affect who you want to receive your pension benefits when you die. Active Members (meaning those who are actively employed by the City, Port,* or Airport and contributing to SDCERS, but are not in DROP) are eligible to leave one of three types of death benefits if they die before retiring or entering DROP, and the eligibility requirements are very specific for two of the three types. Importantly, if you die without having designated your surviving spouse as your sole primary beneficiary, then your surviving spouse will not be eligible to receive the lifetime Death While Eligible or Industrial Death Benefit, even if all other eligibility requirements are satisfied. Below is a summary of the death benefits provided to Active Members, but please review the Death Benefits Fact Sheet for more in-depth information.   *General Port employees hired or rehired on or after January 1, 2009 must complete five consecutive years of Port employment after each hire or rehire date before they become Members of SDCERS and are eligible to leave a death benefit.Active Death Benefit – Paid upon the death of a Member who is not yet eligible to retire and whose death is not related to work (or in the event all pre-requisites for the Death While Eligible or Industrial Death Benefit are not satisfied).Death While Eligible Benefit – Paid upon the death of a Member who is already eligible to retire when they die and whose death is not related to work.Industrial Death Benefit – Paid upon the death of a Member whose death is due to work-related causes, as determined by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.(Please review the full article and/or the Death Benefits Fact Sheet for more information about these death benefits.) As you can imagine, it may take a while to sort out who gets what if you die without updating your beneficiary designations. Luckily, designating a beneficiary is quick, easy, and you can do it from home by logging in to your SDCERS Member Portal account and clicking “Beneficiary Information” from the left menu. You will be able to name beneficiaries to receive different types of death benefits depending on if you are active, in DROP, or retired. You can designate both a primary and an alternate beneficiary. When you die, your primary beneficiary is first in line to collect the death benefit, while your alternate receives the benefit only if the primary is already deceased. For most death benefits, you can name multiple beneficiaries and designate a specific percentage of the benefit to each person. If you choose to do this, make sure your percentages add up to 100%. Lastly, you may also designate a trust to receive any death benefit that is not a continuance or an annuity. However, you will be required to provide SDCERS with a copy of the trust or certificate of trust.   Learn More...

Prop B Agreement Reached Between City and Some Labor Unions

Date: Feb 01, 2022 Categories: News Articles, Pension, Press Release, Proposition B

The MEA recently posted an article on their website announcing a tentative agreement regarding the invalidation of Proposition B (“Prop B”). You can review this article here. Yesterday, the City Council approved an agreement with the MEA and Local 127 regarding the unwinding of Prop B – you can review the materials associated with this agenda item from yesterday’s meeting, including a summary of the agreement, the draft resolution adopting the agreement, and the staff report on this resolution. The City is still in negotiations with the other relevant labor unions and will release more information once agreements are reached.   Please be advised that SDCERS was not a party to any negotiations, and we do not have any additional information about any tentative or final agreements reached other than what has already been made available to the public. That being said, if you are a Prop B employee (non-sworn City employees initially hired between July 20, 2012 and July 10, 2021) and you do end up becoming an SDCERS member, you will join the most recent plan tier according to your member classification – General, Safety Police, Safety Fire, or Safety Lifeguard. Please review your pension plan summary according to your initial hire date here, where you can see your plan tier’s current contribution rates, retirement factors, eligibility requirements, and more. Active Prop B employees will also have educational trainings assigned to them in Success Factors that must be completed.   To reiterate, SDCERS administers the City’s pension system pursuant to the relevant provisions of the City Charter and San Diego Municipal Code – it does not play a part in negotiating the pension benefits it is charged with administering. Therefore, we will be unable to answer any questions related to the outcome of any negotiations between the City and relevant labor unions regarding Prop B. Please direct any questions regarding Prop B to your respective labor union representative or to the City’s Risk Management Department, which you can contact via email at PropB@sandiego.gov. If you would prefer to ask your questions over the phone, please submit an appointment request using this form: www.sandiego.gov/risk-management/open-enrollment/appointment-request.   SDCERS will not have your name or any information about you in our system until we receive the formal transmittal from the City, which likely will not be until the beginning of September 2022 – approximately two months after you officially join the system on July 9, 2022. This is because joining the system will require a transfer from your SPSP-H account (managed by Principal), and it will take time for the City and Principal to process the requisite paperwork before the transmittal is sent to SDCERS; the transmittal is what provides SDCERS with the identities of the new members and their information. Until that time, SDCERS will not be able to answer any specific questions about your account. Please be sure to view the educational materials available via Success Factors in your SAP account, which provide all of the available information about this transition.   Learn More...

SDCERS' 2021 (Virtual) Annual Membership Meeting

Date: Nov 15, 2021 Categories: Events, News Articles, Pension, Press Release

Just like last year, SDCERS’ 2021 Annual Membership Meeting took place virtually as a recorded Zoom meeting. This was not a live event; instead, you can watch the presentations at your leisure via our YouTube channel by clicking here. The theme of the meeting was "Today, Tomorrow, Together.” Here is a sneak preview of this year's presentations:Liza Crisafi, Chief Investment Officer, provided a summary of SDCERS' investment performance in fiscal year 2021.Marcelle Voorhies Rossman, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, explained how SDCERS plans for the future, and the differences between retirees in the past compared to retirees in the now.Gregg Rademacher, Chief Executive Officer, talked about how SDCERS adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reassured SDCERS’ membership that its pension system will is planning for tomorrow, today, in order to make sure benefits are paid accurately and timely, and ensure the trust fund’s safety, integrity, and growth.Cynthia Queen, Member Services Director, went over all of the resources available on SDCERS’ website, gave a brief overview of the Member Portal for both active and retired members, and encouraged all members to register for their own Member Portal account if they haven’t already.We encourage you to take the time to watch the meeting and let us know what you think via our Contact Us page. This is an annual event that is usually held in person, giving us an opportunity to engage with our membership. We hope you enjoy the presentations! ​ Learn More...

Information for City of San Diego Members Who Are Considering Terminating Employment (Due to Vaccine Mandates or Otherwise)

Date: Oct 27, 2021 Categories: News Articles, Pension, Press Release, Retirement Resources

If you are considering ending your employment with the City, due to the pending vaccine mandates or for any other reason, please review our Termination & Deferred Membership fact sheet as well as your plan tier’s Retirement Plan Summary, according to your plan sponsor, membership classification, and initial hire date.   Whether you are terminated for cause or voluntarily end your employment, the circumstances surrounding your departure do not affect your eligibility to receive any SDCERS pension benefits to which you are entitled. As long as you accrue enough service credit (including purchased and reciprocal service credit) to meet your plan tier’s minimum eligibility requirements, you can begin receiving your monthly pension benefit as soon as you become age-eligible. Again, please refer to your Retirement Plan Summary for information about eligibility requirements, as they differ according to plan sponsor and plan tier. You can also log in to your Member Portal account to see if you are currently service-eligible and also to use the benefit estimate calculator, which you can use to run different retirement scenarios and see an estimate of what your monthly pension benefit might be according to each scenario.   If you are (or will be) service and age-eligible to retire when you separate employment, and you are not currently participating in DROP, please submit your electronic service retirement application via your Member Portal account ASAP. You must have a counseling appointment and submit your completed, signed retirement application (not the electronic version – the final application you will discuss with your counselor at your appointment) prior to your retirement date. Ideally, your retirement date should be the day after your termination date. However, if your final application is dated and submitted later, the delayed submission will result in missed days of pension payments.   If you are currently participating in DROP, your retirement date will automatically be the day after your termination date – this is true regardless of if you quit your job or if you are fired. You do need to submit an electronic DROP retirement application and meet with a counselor as soon as possible after termination, but this does not necessarily need to happen prior to your termination date. In this case, a DROP retirement application submitted after your termination date will not result in missed days of pension payments, but it could delay your payments altogether until we have received the requisite paperwork from you.   If you are service-eligible, but not age-eligible to retire upon termination, you do not need an appointment just yet – you will become a “deferred vested” member once you separate employment. No matter where you are in the world, you will be eligible to retire and begin receiving your monthly pension benefit when you become age-eligible. Please log in to your Member Portal account a few months before you become age-eligible and submit your service retirement application. Submitting the electronic application will trigger a staff member to contact you and schedule your retirement counseling appointment.   If you are not service-eligible to retire when you terminate employment and you have no intention of establishing reciprocity elsewhere, you should consider your options regarding your member contributions on deposit with SDCERS. You can leave the funds with SDCERS, where they will earn annual interest at the current discount rate every July (the current rate at the time this article was written is 6.5%), or you can withdraw or rollover the funds (including interest) to an eligible account. If possible, it would be best to schedule a retirement counseling appointment prior to your termination, where your counselor will explain your options in more detail. However, please note that our counseling schedule is typically very busy in November and December, so be sure to plan in advance and review the relevant information on our website ASAP. To schedule an appointment due to terminating employment, you can contact our Call Center, open on regular business days from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at (619) 525-3600. Learn More...

City's Proposition B Update

Date: Apr 14, 2021 Categories: News Articles, Pension, Press Release, Proposition B

As you may know, Proposition B (“Prop B”) was the San Diego ballot initiative that went into effect July 20, 2012 and amended the City Charter to close the City’s pension system to all new hires except for sworn City police officers. This ballot measure has been in litigation since its inception. In January 2021, a San Diego state trial court issued a verbal ruling from the bench, declaring Prop B to be invalid. This verbal ruling was followed by a written statement of decision, and proponents of Prop B had until April 9, 2021 to appeal the trial court’s ruling.   No appeal was filed by the deadline, which means the trial court’s invalidation of Prop B is final. However, we still do not know exactly how the trial court’s ruling will be implemented. So, what happens next?The City and labor unions will enter into negotiations to decide how the trial court’s decision will be implemented.The City will have to take legislative action (i.e., pass a City Ordinance) to remove Prop B from the City Charter and, if applicable, the San Diego Municipal Code.Once the above actions are completed, we will have more information about enrolling City Members hired since July 20, 2012 into an SDCERS pension plan and their options moving forward. Until then, Proposition B is still in effect – meaning all new City hires (except sworn police officers) since July 20, 2012 continue to contribute to the City’s SPSP-H plan in lieu of participating in an SDCERS defined benefit pension plan.If the invalidation of Prop B affects you, SDCERS anticipates that we will contact you on an individual basis once the above actions have been completed.   NOTE: SDCERS administers the City’s pension system pursuant to the relevant provisions of the City Charter and San Diego Municipal Code – it does not play a part in negotiating the pension benefits it is charged with administering. Please direct any questions regarding Prop B to your respective labor union representative or to the City’s Human Resources Department. Learn More...

Proposition B Declared Invalid By San Diego Trial Court

Date: Jan 06, 2021 Categories: Litigation, News Articles, Pension, Proposition B

Proposition B was the San Diego ballot initiative that went into effect July 20, 2012 and amended the City Charter to close the City’s pension system to all new hires except for City police officers. This ballot measure has been in litigation since its inception. Please visit our FAQ’s for more information about the history of Proposition B.   Recently, opponents of Proposition B gained momentum in their quest to overturn the ballot measure: On January 5, 2021, a San Diego state trial court heard oral arguments in this matter and issued a verbal ruling from the bench, declaring Proposition B to be invalid. Currently, the court is drafting a written statement of its decision, which will direct the City Council to erase Proposition B's language from the City Charter. We do not know exactly how this ruling will be implemented – whether it will retroactively provide pension benefits to all City employees who were affected by Proposition B, if these employees will be compensated some other way and begin earning pension benefits prospectively, or if some other resolution will be negotiated. However, it is worth noting that if the trial court's decision is appealed within 60 days of the court’s written statement of decision, any enforcement of the decision may be stalled until the appeal is resolved.  Note: SDCERS is not a party to this litigation. SDCERS administers the City’s pension system pursuant to the relevant provisions of the City Charter and San Diego Municipal Code – it does not play a part in negotiating the pension benefits it is charged with administering. Learn More...

SDCERS' 2020 (Virtual) Annual Membership Meeting

Date: Oct 26, 2020 Categories: Events, Pension, Press Release

In keeping with this year's trend, SDCERS’ 2020 Annual Membership Meeting took place virtually as a recorded Zoom meeting. It was not a live event; rather, you can watch the presentations at your leisure via our YouTube channel by clicking here. The theme of the meeting was "Every Challenge Encountered is an Opportunity for Growth," and the presenters did a great job of explaining what major challenges SDCERS has faced, both recently and in the past, and how SDCERS approached and overcame these obstacles. Here is a sneak preview of this year's presentations:Liza Crisafi, Chief Investment Officer, provided a summary of SDCERS' investment performance in fiscal year 2020.Marcelle Voorhies Rossman, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, explained how SDCERS handled the COVID-19 pandemic.Gregg Rademacher, Chief Executive Officer, incorporated some of his favorite sayings while he talked about SDCERS' trials and tribulations, both new and old, and reassured SDCERS’ membership that its pension system will meet any challenge in order to pay benefits accurately and timely, and ensure the trust fund’s safety, integrity, and growth.Cynthia Queen, Member Services Director, gave a brief overview of the Member Portal for both active and retired members, and encouraged all members to register for their own Member Portal account if they haven’t already.We encourage you to take the time to watch the meeting and let us know what you think via our Contact Us page. This is an annual event that is usually held in person, giving us an opportunity to engage with our membership. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet with you all in person this year, but we hope to see you all at next year's meeting!   Learn More...

SDCERS Receives the 2020 Public Pension Standards Award for Funding and Administration

Date: Oct 22, 2020 Categories: Board, News Articles, Pension, Press Release

For the third year in a row, SDCERS has been awarded the Public Pension Standards Award for Funding and Administration. The Public Pension Coordinating Council grants this award, which recognizes SDCERS for meeting professional standards for plan funding and administration as set forth in the Public Pension Standards.​Recognition Award for Administration SDCERS received the Recognition Award for Administration due to its adherence to the five essential administrative categories:Comprehensive Benefit ProgramActuarialAuditInvestmentsCommunications Recognition Award for Funding SDCERS received the Recognition Award for Funding because its three plan sponsors (City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority) consistently pay their Annual Required Contributions as determined by the SDCERS Board.  The Public Pension Coordinating Council (PPCC) is a coalition of three national associations that represent public retirement systems and administrators: National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) and the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS). Together, these associations represent more than 500 of the largest pension plans in the United States serving most of the nation’s 16 million employees of state and local government. Learn More...

Retiree & Active DROP Participants - Death Benefits and Importance of Keeping Beneficiary Designations Updated

Date: Jul 10, 2020 Categories: Member Portal, News Articles, Pension

When was the last time you thought about your SDCERS beneficiary designations? Over a year ago? Five years? The day you retired or entered DROP? Maybe never? Beneficiary designations may seem like a chore you can put off or do once and forget about, but the truth is you should review your beneficiary designations at least once a year to make sure they reflect your current circumstances. For example, beneficiary designations probably aren’t the first thing on your mind when you get married or divorced, have a child, or lose a loved one, but these are all defining life events that may affect who you want to receive your pension benefits when you die. This article summarizes the death benefits provided to DROP participants and SDCERS retirees, but please review the Death Benefits Fact Sheet and Retirement Benefit Options Fact Sheet for more in-depth information. Review the full article to learn about possible death benefits such as:Continuance Benefit$2,000 Retiree Death Benefit & Other Unpaid MoniesDROP Death BenefitUpdating your beneficiary designations is quick, easy, and you can do it from home by logging in to your SDCERS Member Portal account and clicking “Beneficiary Update” from the left menu. (If you don’t already have a Member Portal account, you can register here.)   You will be able to name beneficiaries to receive different types of death benefits depending on if you are active, in DROP, or retired. You can designate both a Primary and an Alternate beneficiary for your $2,000 Retiree Death Benefit and DROP Death Benefit. When you die, your Primary is first in line to collect the death benefit, while your Alternate receives the benefit only if the Primary is already deceased. For some death benefits, you can name multiple beneficiaries and designate a specific percentage of the benefit to each person. If you choose to do this, make sure your percentages add up to 100%. Lastly, you may also designate a trust to receive any death benefit that is not a continuance or an annuity. Learn More...

Active Member Death Benefits and the Importance of Keeping Your Beneficiary Designations Updated

Date: Dec 11, 2019 Categories: News Articles, Pension

When was the last time you thought about your SDCERS beneficiary designations? Over a year ago? Five years? The day you enrolled in SDCERS? Maybe never? Beneficiary designations may seem like a chore you can put off or do once and forget about, but the truth is you should review your beneficiary designations at least once a year to make sure they reflect your current circumstances. For example, beneficiary designations probably aren’t the first thing on your mind when you get married or divorced, have a child, or lose a loved one, but these are all defining life events that may affect who you want to receive your pension benefits when you die. Active Members (meaning those who are actively employed by the City, Port,* or Airport and contributing to SDCERS, but are not in DROP) are eligible to leave one of three types of death benefits if they die before retiring or entering DROP, and the eligibility requirements are very specific for two of the three types. Importantly, if you die without having designated your surviving spouse as your sole pre-retirement death benefit beneficiary, then your surviving spouse will not be eligible to receive the lifetime Death While Eligible or Industrial Death Benefit, even if all other eligibility requirements are satisfied. This article contains a summary of the death benefits provided to Active Members, but please review the Death Benefits Fact Sheet for more in-depth information. *General Port employees hired or rehired on or after January 1, 2009 must complete five consecutive years of Port employment after each hire or rehire date before they become Members of SDCERS and are eligible to leave a death benefit. Learn More...

SDCERS' Board Votes to Set Minimum Pension Payments

Date: Jan 17, 2019 Categories: Actuarial Valuations, Board, News Articles, Pension, Press Release

At the January meeting, SDCERS' Board of Administration took another important step toward pension stability by voting to set minimum annual pension payments of the Unfunded Actuarial Liability (UAL) for the City of San Diego and the Port of San Diego. This minimum payment is also referred to as a "floor," meaning even if the required annual payment is less than the "floor," that minimum amount must be paid each year. The UAL floor payment for the City was set at $275.5 million and $13.3 million for the Port. This is based on the June 30, 2018 actuarial valuations which set the payment amount for the fiscal 2020 payment to the retirement system. The new policy increases benefit security and helps the pension fund reach full funding by 2037, several years earlier than anticipated. The Board also voted to prospectively limit the long-term impacts of changes to the assumed rate of return (discount rate), retirement rates, and life expectancy assumptions, to a 20-year period from the previous 30-year period. A video of the Board discussion and vote is available here.   Learn More...

California Supreme Court Rules on Challenge to Proposition B

Date: Aug 02, 2018 Categories: News Articles, Pension, Press Release, Proposition B

On August 2, 2018, the California Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal's decision regarding Proposition B. The Supreme Court found that a violation of meet and confer labor laws occurred in connection with the passage of Proposition B and sent the case back to the Court of Appeal to address the appropriate remedy for the violation. The Supreme Court's decision does not require any immediate action by SDCERS. Although SDCERS is not a party to these legal proceedings, SDCERS will continue to monitor these legal proceedings and will update this website and its members when it receives additional information. Represented City of San Diego employees should contact their labor union for additional information and unrepresented City employees should contact City Human Resources.   Learn More...

Information for SDCERS Members Receiving a Pension

Date: Apr 16, 2014 Categories: 1099R, Pension, Retirement Resources

This information explains the reasons that, for some SDCERS members, the annual Form 1099-R you receive is issued as “Taxable Amount Not Determined” and the amount in Box 2a of the form is reported as $0.00 (zero). Learn More...

Pension System Actuarial and Investment Strategies Trending Favorably

Date: Mar 20, 2014 Categories: Board, Investments, Pension, Retirement Resources

There is no shortage of news media coverage focused on how public pension funds, in California and across the country, are yielding significant investment returns while simultaneously growing liabilities even faster. Learn More...