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Retirement Planning FAQs

How many years of salary are in my HAS? 
  • Three, if you had at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • Five, if you did not have at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • One, if you are a judge and you had a least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • Three, if you are a judge and did not have at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
At my job, pay increases take place midyear. How does this affect my HAS for the year? 

The years PERA uses to calculate your HAS aren’t required to be calendar years. A year simply means 12 months of service credit in a row. For example, one of the “years” used in your HAS could be July 2015 to June 2016. A comprehensive overview of PERA’s Defined Benefit Plan and voluntary plans can be found in the Your PERA Benefits booklet.

Your PERA Benefits
How is my PERA benefit calculated? 

In most cases, your age, service credit, and Highest Average Salary (HAS) over a specified period of time will determine your lifetime monthly PERA benefit. However, alternative calculations may be used if they yield a higher benefit. These alternative calculations are called the money purchase calculation under the PERA benefit structure and the minimum benefit calculation under the DPS benefit structure. Please see the HAS table that applies to you.

If I choose a monthly retirement benefit, how will it be paid? 

Under both the PERA and DPS benefit structures, you may choose from several benefit options. Both benefit structures have an option that provides a lifetime monthly benefit for you only and two options that provide a lifetime monthly benefit for you and a continuing monthly benefit after your death to a cobeneficiary of your choice. The DPS benefit structure also has a benefit option that provides a lifetime monthly benefit to you and a continuing benefit to a beneficiary(ies), if there are payments remaining in the guarantee payment period at the time of your death.  

Will the beneficiary I already have on file with PERA automatically become my beneficiary in retirement? 

No, you will be required to make a new beneficiary selection on your PERA Retirement Application at the time you retire.

Can a cobeneficiary be someone other than my spouse? 

Yes, you may choose any one person as your cobeneficiary.

Will I be eligible to receive annual increases to my PERA benefit in retirement? 

Yes, the timing of when you begin receiving your annual benefit increase, and the amount you will receive, is dependent on when you began membership and when you retire. Please see the Annual Increases for Benefit Recipients fact sheet for more specifics.

Annual Increases for Benefit Recipients
What is a reduced retirement? 

You reach full service retirement when your age and service credit intersect in an unshaded box on your PERA HAS table. If you retire before that, the amount you receive is reduced to account for the additional amount of time you’ll be receiving a benefit. The farther away you are from full service retirement, the greater the reduction will be.

Is there any way to increase the amount I receive under a reduced retirement? 

Generally speaking, if you continue to work, your benefit increases. You can also delay when you begin receiving your PERA benefit. Although you don’t continue accruing service credit after you leave employment, you will continue to progress through your PERA table as you age. Once your age and service credit meet in an unshaded box, you reach full service retirement.

What happens if I retire in between the boxes on the PERA HAS table? 

If you retire between full years of service, your percentage will be between the two years indicated.

How is my retirement date determined? 

You are eligible to retire when you meet the age and service requirements on the PERA HAS Percentages table that applies to you. You are not required to retire when you are first eligible. You must terminate active employment and submit a Retirement Application to PERA. Your retirement is effective no earlier than the first day of the month following your last day on the job. Please review the Retirement Process booklet for more details.

Retirement Process booklet
How are PERA benefits coordinated with Social Security benefits? 

Your PERA benefit is not affected by Social Security. However, your Social Security benefit may be reduced if you are receiving a PERA benefit. Please see the PERA and Social Security fact sheet for more details.

For specific information about a reduction to your Social Security benefit, contact the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting their website at

PERA and Social Security


Will I be eligible for Medicare as a PERA retiree? 

Yes, you will be eligible for Medicare when you turn age 65. Medicare is the federal health insurance program for everyone age 65 and older. Please see Social Security’s Medicare booklet (#05-10043) for information about enrolling in Medicare.  

Everyone qualifies for Medicare Part B and pays a premium for Part B. Most PERA retirees also qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, but if you do not, you do not have to purchase it if you are enrolled in one of PERACare’s Medicare plans. Please review the PERACare Health Benefits Program – Medicare Coverage booklet to learn more.

PERACare 2023 Health Benefits Program - Medicare Coverage
Do I need to inform my employer about my plans to retire? 

Yes, three to four months before you expect to retire, notify your employer of your anticipated date of retirement. You should also contact PERA to request a benefit estimate and review the PERA Retirement Kit. All necessary retirement-related forms may be completed online and should be submitted to PERA 60-90 days in advance of your anticipated retirement date. 

I plan to retire at the end of the school year, but my contract will continue paying me through the summer. How does this affect my retirement date with PERA? 

If you are on an academic contract, your termination date will most likely be your last physical day on the job, even if your contract will continue to pay you afterward. Your retirement date or effective date of retirement is typically the first of the month after your last physical day on the job. For example, if you leave and turn in your keys on May 20, then June 1 is your effective date of retirement. You’ll receive your first check from PERA on the last business day in June even if you continue to receive checks from your employer in June and July.

Can I begin to receive my PERA retirement benefit and move right into working after retirement without leaving my job? 

No, federal and Colorado law governing PERA require you to terminate your PERA-covered employment before you may receive retirement benefits from PERA.

Do I forfeit service credit if I retire before my work anniversary? 

No, if you retire at any point between two boxes on your PERA HAS table, the percentage you receive will be between the two numbers you see.

What happens to my unused sick and vacation time? 

If you receive a lump-sum payment in exchange for unused sick or vacation time, in most cases PERA contributions are deducted from this amount. This may give you additional service credit and increase your benefit. This does not affect your retirement date.