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University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP)
Summary: One of the most attractive features of UC employment is the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP). UCRP benefits include lifetime monthly retirement income, disability benefits, survivor income and death benefits. The information provided here pertains to UCRP members with Social Security. If you are a UCRP member without Social Security, a Tier Two member or a Safety member, please see the appropriate summary plan description under Related Information.


UCRP is a "defined benefit" pension plan; it is determined by three factors:

  • Age at retirement
  • Years of "UCRP service credit"
  • Highest average salary (HAPC)

UCRP has a vesting requirement of five full years of UCRP service credit. Vesting guarantees the member a financial benefit at UCRP retirement; earliest retirement age is 50. Your UCRP retirement date is the date you begin drawing your UCRP pension.

Age at Retirement
An age factor is assigned to the retiring employee on his or her retirement date. The earliest age for an UCRP retirement is age 50; the age factor for age 50 is 1.1%. The age factor increases 0.14% for every year up to the maximum age factor of 2.5% (age 60) [see "UCRP Age Factors" under "Related Information"]. For retirements at age 60 or older, the age factor is 2.5%; it does not increase beyond 2.5%. For retirements pre age 60, the age factor is prorated to the birth month at retirement. For a member retiring at age 58 years and seven months, the age factor will be 2.30%; the sum of 2.22% (for age 58 years) plus 0.0819% (for seven additional months).

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UCRP Service Credit
UCRP Service Credit differs from University Service Credit; University Service Credit is used for determining seniority, vacation accruals, and the like. See the Policies & Labor Contracts Section of this website for more information. UCRP Service Credit only counts hours on pay status in a "full-benefit" (formerly called Career) appointment; time worked as a student, a temp or other time is not eligible for UCRP Service Credit. For most employees, UCRP Service Credit will be the same as University Service Credit. For members who work part-time, UCRP service credit is accrued proportionately to the time worked.

For members who retire within 120 days of separation, accrued sick leave hours will convert to UCRP service credit. This applies only to members who elect a monthly benefit; it does not apply to members who elect a lump sum cashout benefit.

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Highest Average Plan Compensation (HAPC)
HAPC is a period of highest paid earnings. These earnings are an average over a 36-consecutive month period. Stipends are included, but over-time pay, bonuses and “summer 9ths”* are not (see “Eligible Covered Compensation” for specifics). They are the full-time equivalent salary for employees who work part-time. For most employees, the HAPC will be the final 36 consecutive months preceding retirement, but can occur at any time. For UC employees who are coordinated with Social Security from their UC employment, the HAPC will be reduced by $133. This reduction represents the amount UC contributes to Social Security on the employee’s behalf; both the employee and UC pay a tax to Social Security for the employees Social Security pension.

[Academics with a 9/12 appointment (work 9 months, paid over 12 months), summer salary (if summer 9ths as additional employment, if applicable) will not be included. For “x, y, z” School of Medicine Faculty, eligible covered compensation is your paid x (plus the health science scale a.k.a. APU, Academic Programmic Unit, if any) but not your y nor z payments. Contact Academic Personnel Office at (310) 825-3841 for appointment or salary information.]

*IRC §401(a)(17) sets a dollar limit for earnings upon which retirement benefits may be based. The earnings limit for the Plan’s fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009, is $245,000 annually for employees who became members as of July 1, 1994, or later. For those who were active members before July 1, 1994, the earnings limit is $360,000. These limits are for fiscal year 2009; prior fiscal years have different limitations that can affect the HAPC when calculated.

UCRP formula: (Age factor x UCRP Years of Service Credit) x HAPC = Basic Retirement Income (BRI), a monthly lifetime benefit. In addition, an inactive Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of up to 2% will be added to the HAPC for each July 1 between the separation date and the retirement date, if UCRP entry date is before 7/1/13.

Example: Josephine Bruin, UCLA employee separates at age 50 with 15 years of UCRP Service Credit, a sick leave balance of 1,044 hours and an HAPC of $3,700. The earliest she can retire from UC (start receiving her UCRP pension) is age 50, however, she can retire any time after that. What would her monthly benefit be if she begins drawing her UCRP pension on her birthday at age 50, or wait until age 60?

At Age 50:

  1. Age factor = 1.1%
  2. UCRP Years of Service Credit = 15.5 (15 years of service plus 0.5 years for converted sick leave hours)
  3. HAPC = $3567($3700 minus $133 Social Security Offset)
    UCRP formula: [(1.1% x 15.5) x $3,567] = $608.17. The resulting monthly basic retirement income for Josephine is $608.17 starting at age 50.

At Age 60:

  1. Age factor = 2.5%
  2. UCRP Years of Service Credit = 15 (she cannot convert sick leave hours since more than 120 days elapsed between her separation and the time she starts drawing benefits)
  3. HAPC = 4289.90 ($3700 plus $722.90 COLAs for 10 years minus $133 Social Security Offset)
    UCRP formula: [(2.5% x 15) x $4,289.90] = $1,608.71. Josephine’s basic retirement income would be $1,608.71 based on age 50 separation and age 60 benefit commencement date.

Since Josephine's age factor is determined by her retirement date (not her separation date), her monthly benefit is higher at age 60. On the other hand, she is not receiving income during the ten years between ages 50 and 60! And, she would not be eligible to continue health benefits in the second example, nor convert her accumulated sick leave because her retirement date is 120 days later than her separation date. There are many important factors to consider when deciding on the right time to retire, including other financial resources available, medical coverage and others. This is an important personal and financial decision. Contact your Central Benefits Office for questions.

Employees who are ready to retire should contact the Central Benefits Office at (310) 794-0830 for a Personal Retirement Profile (PRP). Retirements cannot be processed more than 90 days prior to the retirement date.

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Sick Leave Conversion
Participants who elect a monthly benefit will have sick leave hours converted to UCRP Service Credit if they retire within 120 days of separation. Josephine Bruin’s sick leave converted to UCRP service credit when she retired at age 50 since she retired within 120 days of separating. Her sick leave did not convert in the second example (postponing the start of her pension until age 60), since this was more than 120 days after her separation.

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Survivor Payments (does not apply if UCRP entry date is 7/1/13 or later)

UCRP does not have "beneficiaries" for the monthly pension benefits; instead, the plan names a survivor [spouse/domestic partner, child(ren), dependent parents, see SPD for details.] If the UCRP member has an eligible survivor at the time of retirement, the plan will pay the eligible survivor a lifetime monthly benefit of 25% of the member's Basic Retirement Income (for those members whose UC employment is coordinated with Social Security) or 50% of the member's Basic Retirement Income (for those members whose UC employment is not coordinated with Social Security). This lifetime survivor payment is provided at no cost to the member and is provided if the member predeceases the eligible survivor. If the eligible survivor predeceases the member, the survivor benefit is lost.

To illustrate just one example of survivor payments, let’s go back to Josephine Bruin. Her husband, Joe Bruin, to whom she was married for more than one year at her UC retirement, would receive $152.04 (25% x $608.17) per month in survivor benefits for the rest of his life after Josephine dies.

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Alternative Payment Options
UCRP allows its members to provide a retirement benefit to another person, a contingent annuitant, of their choosing. This Payment Option provides a lifetime benefit payable upon the member's death. This payment option is paid for entirely by the member via a reduction in pension benefits — as opposed to survivor benefits that are provided at no cost to members. The contingent annuitant can be anyone: a spouse, child, sibling or friend. The primary pension benefit is actuarially reduced because the benefit is potentially being paid over two lifetimes instead of one.

In Josephine Bruin's case, she might want to take a reduction in benefits to leave her husband, Joe, a higher benefit. (We're assuming she really likes Joe and wouldn't take a reduction for anyone else!) She will be given a choice of 4 options in addition to the Basic Retirement Income (BRI):


Payment Options
  BRI A (100%) B (2/3%) C (50%) D (50%)
Josephine $608 $572 $584 $590 $596
Joe $152 $572 $440 $371 $298

 

If Joe dies before Josephine, Josephine's benefit would not change, even though the contingent annuitant benefits are forfeited.

Death Before Retirement - If a UC member is eligible to retire, but dies prior to retirement, the plan will process retirement benefits for the day following the date of death, and give an eligible spouse or eligible domestic partner Payment Option A benefits.

If Josephine died at age 50 while still employed, before electing her retirement benefits, the plan would automatically pay Joe, her eligible spouse, payment option A benefits; $572/month. The plan assumes Josephine would have taken the greatest reduction in her benefit to leave her spouse the highest possible benefit. Joe would NOT have the choice between the monthly benefit and a one-time lump sum cashout; only the member can choose a lump sum cashout.

Please visit the "UCRP Retirement Benefit Estimator" to calculate potential benefits. The Summary Plan Description (SPD) has detailed information regarding survivor benefits and payment options.

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Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs)
Once retired, there is an annual COLA every July 1 for eligible retirees. The retiree must have been retired for one full year on or prior to a subsequent July 1. COLAs are based on movement in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and are not necessarily matched point for point. COLAs range from a minimum of 0.1% to a maximum of 6%.

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Retiree Health Coverage and Graduated Eligibility
UC retirees who are eligible for Medicare are required to enroll in Parts A and B at the time of eligibility in order to retain the UC retiree medical. Active employees, who receive their insurance through their appointments, are not required to enroll in Medicare, even if they are eligible.

You may be eligible to continue your UC medical and dental coverage into retirement if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are enrolled in your UC plan when you leave UC employment
  • You elect to continue coverage at the time of retirement
  • You retire within 120 days of terminating your UC employment
  • Your coverage is continuous and premiums are current
  • You meet UC service credit requirements

Health and welfare benefits are not accrued or vested benefit entitlements. The amount UC contributes towards the cost of coverage is determined by UC and may change or stop altogether. Only UCRP service credit counts toward eligibility for medical and dental benefits. (Service credit from a reciprocal system is excluded.) Retirees who are eligible for Medicare benefits, and do not enroll in Medicare when eligible, will be permanently de-enrolled from UC medical coverage.



UCRP Entry Date

Before January 1, 1990

After January 1, 1990 thru 6/30/13

You will receive 100% Regents' Contribution if you do not have a break in service of more than 120 days AND you have at least 10 years of UCRP service credit if retiring before age 55, or 5 years if retiring age 55 or later.

You will be subject to Graduated Eligibility (receive prorated Regents' Contribution) if you have at least 10 years of UCRP service credit OR you meet the Rule of 75*.



Graduated Eligibility (Retirement) Chart

(For employees with UCRP entry date between 1/1/90 and 6/30/13, or if "Grandfathered." See below for eligibility for "Grandfather" status.)


 Years of Service

Eligibility

 Percentage of UC Contribution

 0-9*

No

 None, unless "Rule of 75*" applies, then 50%.

 10

Yes

 50%

 11-20

Yes

 Increases 5% for every year over 10 years up to 100% at 20 years.


 

 




 


 

If UCRP entry date is 7/1/13 or later, click here for information about applicable Graduated Eligibility: http://ucrpfuture.universityofcalifornia.edu/files/2010/10/the-facts-retiree-health-7-12-12.pdf.

**Rule of 75 - The employee's age plus UCRP service credit equals 75 or more; minimum 5 years of UCRP service credit is required.

Regents' Contribution
- The amount of money UC will contribute to your medical & dental premiums.  Additional costs, if any, are deducted from the retiree's monthly pension.

Returning to Josephine Bruin's situation, she would be able to continue her health benefits if she retired at age 50; she was still enrolled in her medical and dental plans, and her retirement was within the 120 day restriction. She would not be able to continue her health benefits if she retired at age 60 or 65 since that would be outside the 120 day window, and her health benefits were discontinued when she separated at age 50.

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Death Payment 
At the time of death, a $7,500 benefit is provided by UCRP. This benefit is not available to retirees who elect a lump sum cashout of their regular monthly benefit.

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Lump Sum Cashout (does not apply if UCRP entry date is 7/1/13 or later)
UC members have the option of taking a lifetime monthly benefit which would include the previously discussed benefits (sick leave conversion, survivor benefits, alternative payment options, health coverage, COLAs and death payment) or they can take a one-time payment called a Lump Sum Cashout (LSC).

LSC Formula
 
The Basic Retirement Income (BRI) is reduced by any offsets and then multiplied by a Single Payment Factor (SPF). The SPF is based on the retiree's age (month and year); it is derived from life expectancy tables, projected cost of living increases and actuarial assumptions.

 
 Age  SPF
 50  179.57
 51  177.44
 52  175.22
 53  172.91
 54  170.51
 55  168.02
 56  165.43
 57  162.76
 58  159.99
 59  157.14
   
 Age  SPF
 60  154.20
 61  151.19
 62  148.10
 63  144.95
 64  141.73
 65  138.46
 66  135.14
 67  131.79
 68  128.41
 69  125.01
   
 Age  SPF
 70  121.60
 71  118.16
 72  114.68
 73  111.14
 74  107.54
 75  103.90
 76  100.21
 77  96.50
 78  92.74
 79  88.96
   
 Age  SPF
 80  85.16
 81  81.40
 82  77.71
 83  74.12
 84  70.64
 85  67.28
 86  64.05
 87  60.86
 88  57.73
   


 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Josephine’s information, let’s calculate what her lump sum cashout would be at age 50. Remember, sick leave is not converted for a LSC benefit; calculate Basic Retirement Income (BRI) without sick leave against the Single Payment Factor (SPF).

1.1% x 15 = 16.5% x HAPC [$3,700 - $133] = 16.5% x $3,567 = $588.56 BRI
BRI x SPF = $588.56 x 179.57 = $105,686.82

Josephine is seriously considering a LSC since her husband, Joe, is also a UC employee entitled to UCRP benefits, including health insurance into retirement.

LSC Distribution Options 
A LSC can be paid in cash to the retiree in which case federal and state income tax would be due and possibly an early distribution penalty or a rollover can be elected. A rollover to a qualified plan would defer taxes and avoid any penalties. A combination of a cash payout and rollover can also be elected.

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UCRP Buyback
The plan allows active UCRP members to “Buyback” UCRP service credit to establish service credit for unpaid and/or partially paid leaves of absence, to re-establish service credit for previous UCRP membership or to eliminate a noncontributory offset. The buyback option is available only to active UCRP members. Please review “Buyback — Is it the best place for your money?”; review the UCRP Buyback Booklet for specifics and to begin a Buyback process.

Buybacks are not allowed for time when an employee did not have an eligible appointment, i.e. during a separation. If an employee leaves UC service and then returns, any previously earned UCRP service credit will be re-established, assuming accumulations were kept on deposit with UC, when applicable. Costs for buybacks are taken from the employee’s paycheck on a pre-tax basis. The minimum buyback period is 12 months and the maximum is 60 months.

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Campus Human Resources, Benefits Services
Phone: (310) 794-0830 | Fax: (310) 794-0835

Related Information