Benefit Estimate Calculator

Note: SDCERS staff is constantly working to improve the calculator so that it is easier to use and can account for more hypothetical scenarios; therefore, the calculator continues to be a work in progress and you may notice changes over time. If you encounter problems while attempting to generate an estimate, please contact SDCERS and let us know.

The Member Portal’s Benefit Estimate Calculator is an extremely important retirement planning tool and we encourage our non-retired members to utilize it often, regardless of whether they are in the beginning, middle, or nearing the end of their career. Members can create almost any scenario to generate an estimate of what their pension benefit might look like if they retired under that scenario. Of course, the closer the member actually is to retirement, the more accurate the estimate will be. However, even for members who are only just beginning their career with an SDCERS plan sponsor, it might be helpful to get an idea of how long they need to work in order to earn a pension benefit of at least $X per month, if they retire at age Y with an annual salary of $Z.

The calculator uses the same “engine” as the benefit calculator used by SDCERS staff, meaning that if SDCERS staff creates an estimate for you using the same data you entered in the calculator on the Portal, the results will be the same. Of course, keep in mind that this is only an estimate based on the information you enter into the calculator; the more accurate the information entered, the more accurate the estimate will be. Remember, your actual benefit will be calculated based on final information once you decide to retire. To get to your calculator, you will first need to log in to your Member Portal account. If you have not already registered, please do so as soon as you get a chance – note that you will need to access your last paycheck, as the registration process requires you to enter your most recent member contribution amount.

Getting Started

Once you are in your Member Portal, click on “Create and View Benefit Estimate” on the front of the home page, or “Benefit Calculator” under the Tools section. Either option brings you to the Benefit Calculator page, where you can view estimates you generated in the past or create a new one:


Click on “Create New Estimate” and agree to the Terms and Conditions. This brings you to the first page of the calculator.


IMPORTANT – before you begin punching in numbers, please review the explanation of each aspect of the calculator. The definitions section is right below the Retiree Info box, indicated in the above screenshot. Simply click on each listed item to expand it and read the description (First Eligible Retirement Date, Select Later Retirement Date, etc.).
Looking at the left side of the calculator first, you will notice there are five static fields – “static” meaning that you can’t override these numbers. (Note that some of you may have additional fields if you have established reciprocity – see the “Members With Reciprocity” section below for more information.) 

Final Average Salary

The calculator will always show your highest final average salary* (listed as a monthly amount) based on the most recent data SDCERS has received from your plan sponsor. The calculator does the math for you, calculating your highest final average salary (based on the formula according to your plan tier) under the presumption that whatever your pensionable pay was on your last paycheck, that will continue to be your pensionable pay on each paycheck between now and your last day of work.
You can probably see the possible issue that creates – particularly if you are still years away from retirement and anticipate multiple pay raises between now and then. That is why you can override that number on the right side, and input a higher salary to use in the calculation. The easiest way to do this is by percentages – if you are anticipating a 5% salary increase (and you plan to continue working for at least 1 or 3 years after you receive the pay increase, depending on your plan tier’s final compensation calculation), simply increase the amount automatically generated by 5% and input the higher number on the right side in the box labeled “Increase Final Average Salary To.” Just remember that this will provide an estimate based on the information you input – the computer doesn’t know what your salary will be in 10 years any more than you do, hence the emphasis on benefit estimate!

*Note: The terms "Final Average Salary" and "Final Compensation" are synonymous with respect to your pension benefit calculation.

Active Members – Currently Working for SDCERS Plan Sponsor


In the example above, this member is currently working for their plan sponsor and not yet eligible to retire. Their first eligible retirement date is 6/5/2025 and their last day of work would be the day before that, 6/4/2025. Note that the system generates this data under the presumption that you will continue working for your plan sponsor in your current employment status (i.e., full-time, half-time, or ¾-time) between now and your first eligible retirement date. If you take a leave of absence or terminate employment before the generated date, you may have a later first eligible date, or you may never be eligible for a pension benefit at all, depending on how much service credit you accrue prior to termination.
Another thing to take note of is that for active members, your “Last Day Working for SDCERS Plan Sponsor” will automatically generate as the day before your “First Eligible Retirement Date.” However, if you plan to terminate employment before your first eligible date, you can override this so that your service credit used in the calculation reflects how much service credit you would have if you terminated employment early.
For instance, in the example above, this member has over 20 years of service credit, which means they are already service-eligible to retire. The fact that their first eligible date is still a few years away indicates that they are simply not yet age-eligible. (Please review your Retirement Plan Summary to see your age and service eligibility requirements.) Therefore, this member could terminate employment now, which would change their last day of work and freeze their service credit at 21.56 years, and then the day they become age-eligible could be their retirement date. In that case, this member would input today’s date into the “Select Different Last Day of Work” box on the righthand side, and then input their chosen retirement date underneath, which must be on or after first eligible retirement date. The calculator would generate an estimate based on their selected retirement date, but using 21.56 years of service rather than the 25.08 years they would have if they continued working until their first eligible retirement date. This allows you to input a scenario where you terminate employment before you become age-eligible to retire.
If you select a different last day of work, you must also input a date in the “Select a Later Retirement Date” field, and vice versa. Otherwise, you will get an error message. Further, when you input a different last day of work, the later retirement date box underneath will automatically populate as the next day. You may need to override that date in a scenario where you terminate employment before becoming age-eligible. Your selected later retirement date cannot be before your first eligible retirement date.
Another option is to simply change the amount of service credit you want to have when you retire. For example, if this member clicked “Clear” underneath the calculator to refresh the boxes, and then typed “30” in the “Increase SDCERS Service Credit To” box, this is what would happen:

(Note: Whenever you type something into one box, you just have to click anywhere outside of that box in order for the other boxes to automatically populate the data accordingly.)
This shows you how long you must work in order to accrue the specified amount of service credit. The calculator automatically assumes that you want to retire the day after you have reached that amount of service credit, but you could override that if you wanted. However, if you were to change your last day of work, you’ll see the service credit box change as well, according to the new date you selected.

Inactive/Deferred Vested Members

Inactive and Deferred Vested Members are those who have terminated employment with their SDCERS plan sponsor and left their contributions on deposit with SDCERS. Deferred Vested Members became service-eligible to retire before they terminated employment, while Inactive Members did not. Therefore, Deferred Vested Members should have a First Eligible Retirement Date of their birthday that they will become age-eligible and they can proceed with an estimate. Inactive Members may not be able to generate an estimate at all, unless they have established outgoing reciprocity (see section below).
These members will not be able to override the “Select Different Last Day of Work” or “Increase Service Credit To” boxes, as their last day of work has already been determined. They also may not be able to increase their final average salary, unless reciprocity has been established.

Members With Reciprocity

“Incoming reciprocity” means that when you began working for an SDCERS plan sponsor, you came from a reciprocal agency and established reciprocity between the two retirement systems. If this is the case, you should have an additional static field on the left, labeled “Reciprocal Service Credit,” which should display the amount of service credit you earned at the reciprocal agency.


“Outgoing reciprocity” means that after you terminated employment with an SDCERS plan sponsor, you established reciprocity elsewhere. SDCERS will have a record of your outgoing reciprocity, but no way of knowing how much reciprocal service credit you have until you actually retire. Therefore, if this is the case, you should have an additional editable field on the right, labeled “Increase Reciprocal Service Credit To.” Input the total amount of reciprocal service credit you have (or believe you will have as of your retirement date) in this box.


For inactive members, the only way you can generate an estimate is if you have approved outgoing reciprocity and you input enough reciprocal service credit to meet service-eligibility requirements.

Page 2 of Calculator – Benefit Option

You move on to the second page of the calculator by clicking “Next” underneath the Retiree Info box discussed above. Hopefully, if you have input a sufficient scenario, you will not get an error message and, instead, should see this:

Please review the Retirement Benefit Options Fact Sheet before moving forward, so that you understand what each benefit option means.
Once you understand your options, you can check one or more of the boxes next to the benefit options you’d like to use in your estimate – checking multiple boxes will generate multiple estimates so you can compare numbers.
A few important things to note:

  1. If you generate an estimate under the “Maximum” benefit option, the calculator will provide you with an estimate according to the “Maximum Benefit (Married)” option if your marital status is “married” in our system, or the “Maximum Benefit (Single)” option if you appear as nonmarried in our system. You will know that our system shows you as nonmarried if your “Maximum” estimate includes a Surviving Spouse Annuity amount.

    Please ensure your current marital status is up to date in SDCERS’ files before running the estimate – active Airport Members should send an email to to update their marital status, active Port Members should contact their HR Department (619-686-6315 or, while active City Members and all inactive/deferred vested members should notify SDCERS directly. It may take one to two pay periods for updates to be reflected in your account. 

  2. For all options except Reduced Benefit Option 1 (and “Maximum” if you are nonmarried), you will need to input a date of birth for your continuance. If you are generating a “Maximum” benefit and you are married, this must be your spouse’s date of birth. For Reduced Benefit Options 2-4, this must be the date of birth of whoever your continuance beneficiary would be under these options – note that if you are considering a continuance beneficiary other than your spouse for the reduced benefit options, you will need to run separate estimates, as the calculator will only allow you to input a single date of birth for all options.

  3. If you select Reduced Benefit Option 4, you must input the percentage of your pension benefit that you intend to leave to your continuance beneficiary – this must be a number between 0 and 100%.

Finally, you can generate your estimate(s).

Final Benefit Estimate Calculation

The calculator generates gross estimates only – no taxes are deducted from these numbers. The estimate is broken down into your base monthly benefit, your Cost of Living Annuity, and Surviving Spouse Annuity (only applicable for Maximum Benefit (Single) estimates). These three numbers added together equals your estimated total monthly pension benefit for the scenario you provided.
For Maximum Benefit (Married) and Reduced Benefit Options 2-4 estimates, the calculator will also display the estimated monthly continuance benefit that may be paid to your continuance beneficiary after your death. Note that the continuance benefit displayed does not take into account the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) that will apply every July after your retirement date. (See our FAQs for more information about COLAs.)
If you have any questions about your estimate or you can’t figure out why you’re getting an error message, please contact SDCERS at (619) 525-3600, open on regular business days from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. (PST). Good luck!

The information in this publication is intended to provide Members with a current and accurate summary of retirement benefits. However, it is not a legal document or a substitute for the law. The language used in this publication is not intended to create a contract between the City, Port, or Airport and any Member. The governing plan document adopted by the Member's employer governs the operations of SDCERS. Accordingly, if any information in this publication conflicts with the employer's plan document, the law, or Board Rules, then the plan document, law, or Board Rules must prevail.