Retirement Plans

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San Mateo County offers its employees and elected officials one of the finest retirement benefits available today. All permanent County employees are members of the San Mateo County Employees' Retirement Association (SamCERA). SamCERA offers retirement, service disability, non-service disability, duty death, non-duty death and retirement death benefits to eligible members, spouses and their beneficiaries.

SamCERA will send a Membership Enrollment packet to your home shortly after you begin your new job. When you receive the packet, please read Very Important Questions and Answers About Your SamCERA Retirement Benefits and share the information with your beneficiary. The booklet will help you choose the Plan that is right for you. You must return your enrollment form selecting your Plan and Naming Your Beneficiary as soon as possible.

Questions about Retirement? Call (650) 599-1234 or visit SamCERA's Web site at

Employees Planning Retirement

If you have pension questions or to sign up for a retirement seminar please contact SamCERA via e-mail at or telephone at (650) 599-1234. The seminar is available to all employees and covers pension options and amounts, continued health benefits, healthy living, financial planning, Social Security, Long-Term Care and Deferred Compensation. For more information please visit SamCERA's web site at

General Members

  • Anyone who is not eligible to be a Safety Member becomes a General Member.
  • General Members must choose between Contributory Plan 4, which has the broadest benefits [you and the County both make Contributions], or the Non-Contributory Plan 3 with smaller benefits [the County pays the full cost].  

Safety Members

  • County employees in active law enforcement and certain employees in the Probation Department are classified as SamCERA Safety Members. All new Safety Members are enrolled in SamCERA's Contributory Plan 4.

Member Contribution Plans

  • SamCERA'sContributory Plans provide excellent defined benefits.
  • Member Contributions mean better benefits. The highest and broadest benefits are paid to members in Plans 1, 2, and 4.
  • New members are automatically enrolled in contributory Plan 4.
  • If you want to be in Plan 3, you must notify SamCERA during your first sixty days as a new permanent employee.
  • Normal retirement age for General Members is 65, but reduced benefits are available beginning at age 50 with 10-years of service.
  • Normal retirement age for Safety Members is 55, but reduced benefits are available beginning at age 50 with 10-years of service, or at any age with 20-years of service.
  • The longer you work the greater your benefit. The maximum benefit payable is equal to 100% of your final average salary. A General Member who retires at age 50 with 20 years of service will receive 23.6% of Final Average Salary as a Monthly benefit, while a member who retires at 65 with 35 years of service will receive 85.1% of Final Average Salary as a Monthly Benefit.
  • The County’s contributions never "vest" to your account but may be received through a monthly benefit.
  • Retirees in the Contributory Plans receive Cost-of-Living increases each year. As a Plan 4 Retiree you will be eligible to receive COLA increases of up to 2% per year.

Non-Contributory Plan

  • General Members who do not want to contribute to their own retirement may enroll in Plan 3.
  • The County pays the full cost for Plan 3, but the benefits are not as comprehensive. Plan 3 service retirement benefits are less then 50% of the Plan 4 benefits for most members.
  • If you want to be in Plan 3, you must notify SamCERA during your first sixty days as a new employee. If you elect to enroll in Plan 3, SamCERA will refund any contributions that have been deducted from your pay.
  • You will not be eligible to switch to Plan 4 until you have accumulated five years of Plan 3 service.
  • Normal retirement age for Plan 3 is 65, but reduced benefits are available beginning at age 55 with 10-years of service.
  • Plan 3 does not provide SamCERA disability benefits or retiree cost-of-living increases.

Extra-Help Employees

  • By Federal law, all extra help employees are enrolled into an OBRA plan.
  • You pay 7.5% of salary per pay period.
  • Your contributions will be applied to the SAGIC Core Bond Fund (“SAGIC”) and will accumulate tax-free until you take a distribution.
  • Please visit for plan information. 
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