PERA demystifies your retirement plan this June


If you’re among the 7,000 or so CU employees who have a pension plan through the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, your retirement planning likely revolves around a set of tables.

There are seven tables, to be exact, and each helps answer a key question: When can I, as a PERA member, expect to retire?

That’s a familiar question to PERA’s Gordon Steuck, who’s preparing to answer this and dozens of other questions about PERA’s defined contribution plan during campus visits and workshops this June. Those seven tables—which help members calculate when they’ll be eligible to retire and what their monthly pension will be upon retirement, based upon their age and how long they’ve been in PERA—will be key in helping workshop participants understand where they are and where they’d like to be in the retirement savings process.

The June workshops and information tables aim to serve all members’ needs; while the workshop will provide general information about everything from service credit to the differences between PERA and a traditional 401(k) retirement savings plan, the information tables allow members to delve into specific questions about their PERA service and retirement outlook with a PERA expert.

Among some of the most insightful things PERA members will learn:

  • One of seven tables will help you determine when you can retire and what your monthly lifetime PERA benefit will be. 

Just which table you should refer to depends on when you were first hired into PERA-covered employment. You’ll receive printouts of each chart when you attend one of the PERA Fundamentals workshops.

  • The longer you’ve been in PERA, the more generous your benefit will be.

This extends beyond simple retirement savings. Once you’ve been in a PERA-covered job for three years, you’re eligible for PERA’s survivor benefit. After five years of PERA service, you become eligible for its disability benefit.

  • Most PERA members do not contribute to Social Security. But if they have a Social Security benefit that they earned in the past or receive through their spouse, it may be reduced.

Steuck will cover in detail the two scenarios in which PERA members could see reductions from Social Security:

In short, he says, “Rather than obsess about a possible penalty, focus your attention on what you can build in a PERA benefit, because our formula is much more generous than the Social Security formula.”

  • PERA differs greatly from CU’s 401(a) plan.

For PERA members who have had a 401(k) -- or, in CU's case, a 401(a) -- it can be confusing to switch to a plan that does not heavily focus on employer contributions to their retirement, says Steuck.

Instead, PERA members should focus on its guarantee of a lifetime, monthly payment, he says.

PERA Fundamentals Workshop & Info Table

Information tables:
10 a.m. - noon
and 1 - 2 p.m.

Noon - 1 p.m.

All workshops are free.

UCCS Thursday, June 12
University Center Theater
Room 302Register
CU Anschutz Tuesday, June 17
Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building
Room M24-103 Conference RoomRegister
CU- Boulder Thursday, June 19
University Memorial Center
Room 335Register
CU Denver Wednesday, June 25
Lawrence Street Center
Classroom 500-GSPA


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