Member FAQs

October 16, 2017

Woman holding a planner binder looks away from the cameraThe following are some frequently asked questions about the basics on being a member of Colorado PERA:

What is the PERA retirement plan?

PERA is a defined benefit (DB) plan, sometimes called a pension. The plan identifies the specific benefit that will be payable to you at retirement. Your benefit will be based on years of service and your Highest Average Salary and will be paid in monthly checks over your lifetime. For full details, refer to the Your PERA Benefits booklet.

How is PERA different than the 401(k) plan I had at a past employer?

A 401(k) plan is a type of defined contribution (DC) plan where you specify how much money will go into a retirement plan today and then determine how that money is invested. The amount you have at retirement depends on how much money has accumulated in the plan. At retirement, you decide how and when to withdraw the money in the 401(k) plan so that you don’t outlive your assets.

Can I leave my PERA account to my spouse and children?

The PERA DB Plan has a built-in program that provides income to your survivors following your death. In many cases, your survivors will receive an ongoing monthly benefit. State law determines who is eligible for survivor benefits. However, you can name a beneficiary who will receive the one-time, lump sum payment if you have no qualified survivors. More information is available online.

Are there any other built-in benefits?

Yes, upon reaching five years of earned service credit, you may be eligible for PERA’s two-tier disability program if you are unable to work due to a medical condition. See the Built-in Benefits webpage for more information.

Photo: istock/Thinkstock

You can enroll in a 401(k) and/or 457 plan in addition to your pension. By enrolling, you’ll build a solid foundation for your retirement. And even a few dollars saved every month can add up over time. More information is available online.