PERS Deductions in California

California's PERS program lets state employees save for retirement through payroll deductions.

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

The California Public Employees Retirement System provides retirement and insurance benefits to employees of the state government, school system and other public agencies. The benefits available to you depend on your employer's individual contract with CalPERS. Retirement benefits are based on your monthly earnings in your last year of employment and your total years of service.

Retirement Contributions

Your retirement contributions will be withheld through payroll deductions. Employee contributions reduce the taxable income you must report on your tax return at the end of the year. Your employer is required to deposit matching contributions on behalf of all employees who contribute to the CalPERS retirement plan. The employer may choose also to cover your portion of the contribution.

Contribution Refunds

If you quit working for a CalPERS employer before you are eligible for retirement benefits, you may be entitled to a refund of the contributions you made into the plan. You will also receive the earnings allocated to your employee contributions. Employer matching contributions are not refundable. Contribution refunds are taxable unless you roll the money into an IRA or other qualified employer-sponsored plan.

Death Benefits

Your employer may also offer death benefits through its CalPERS plan. The premium for your coverage will be deducted from your paycheck before taxes are withheld. The payout to your heirs depends on your employer's contract with CalPERS, your job classification and whether you were retired at the time of your death.

Health Insurance

CalPERS offers insurance to state government employees automatically. Employees of school districts and local public agencies are entitled to health insurance if it is specifically listed in the employer's contract with CalPERS. If you are eligible for health insurance coverage, your employer will pay part of the premium, and you will be responsible for paying the remainder. The percentage of each party's premium is decided by the collective bargaining agreement between the employer and CalPERS.

Disability Benefits

The CalPERS disability program provides monthly benefits if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. A physician must diagnose the illness or injury as lasting for a permanent or undetermined duration. The program offers two different types of disability benefits. Industrial disability benefits only cover impairments suffered while on the job. Standard disability benefits cover all injuries or illnesses, regardless of where they occurred. To qualify for disability benefits, you must not be able to continue performing in your current job position, even if you transferred to a different CalPERS-eligible employer.