About Your Membership

VESTING

A vested benefit refers to a benefit that is not payable at the time of separation from employment, but is deferred until the former member reaches normal retirement age. To qualify for this deferred vested benefit, you must not withdraw your contributions.

CONTRIBUTIONS

The Retirement System’s operating funds come from three sources:

Member contributions
Member contribution rates are determined on the basis of each member’s age on entry into the Retirement System. These rates are individually applied to each member’s pensionable compensation. Most employers deduct your retirement contributions from your pay before taxes are withheld.
Employer contributions
Employer contribution rates are considerably higher than member contribution rates.
Investment earnings
Investment earnings are based on the performance of the total portfolio of the fund. The Retirement Board has exclusive control of the investment of Retirement System funds, which are held for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries. The Board manages these funds in the interest of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries, minimizing employer contributions, and defraying the system’s expenses. It manages them with prudence and diligence, and diversifies investments to minimize risk and maximize return.

Interest is credited semi-annually on June 30 and December 31 on all contributions in the retirement fund which have been on deposit for the prior six months. Interest on employer contributions is paid at the actuarial assumed rate, while interest on member contributions varies every 6 months based on the yield posted to the Federal Five-Year Treasury Note (as of the last business day of the interest crediting period).

After separation from service, no further interest is credited to a member’s account unless the member is eligible for deferred retirement or is employed by another agency covered by reciprocity within six months of the member’s separation date (see “Disposition of Contributions After Separation” for details).

Annual member statements are mailed to each active, reciprocal and deferred member. Statements contain information on contribution totals, service credit and other personal information. To keep your records current, you must inform the payroll clerk in your department if you have a change of address. You may learn your current retirement account balance by checking your county on-line Employee Self-Service (ESS) account, calling your Benefit Specialist or by sending a written request to the Retirement Office.

SERVICE CREDIT

Your retirement allowance is based, in part, on the amount of retirement service credit accumulated prior to retirement. Members receive retirement service credit for the period of time for which their compensation is subject to retirement deductions.

Service credit is computed on either a biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly basis depending upon your employer’s pay cycle. You cannot earn more than one year of service credit in any 12 month period. Under the circumstances described below, you may be eligible to increase your retirement allowance by purchasing service credit.

Sick Leave: You may receive up to one year of service credit for your unused accumulated sick leave at time of retirement.

You may purchase credit for lost service if:
  • You were employed by the County before you became an SBCERS member (as “extra help,” for example), and you did not receive service credit under this plan for that service. You may purchase credit for all or part of that service.

  • You were on leave of absence without pay for medical reasons. You may purchase a period not to exceed twelve (12) consecutive months in any one absence for a medical leave of absence. You need to return to work from your medical leave into a position covered by SBCERS in order to be eligible to purchase this service credit.

  • You left employment with the County, you withdrew your contributions from the plan while you were gone, and you were rehired. You may reacquire the resulting lost service credit by repaying the withdrawn amount with interest.

Purchasing Credit (Buy Back) for Prior Public Service
If you were enrolled in the Retirement System before July 15, 1977, you may purchase credit for periods of public service for which you did not receive service credit under this plan. Public service is defined as service as an officer or an employee of:

  • Any federal or state agency or department,

  • Any city or county in the state of California, or

  • Any public corporation, municipal corporation, or public district that is either in whole or in part within Santa Barbara County.

Purchasing Additional Retirement Credit
Pursuant to Government Code Section 7522.46. (a) A public retirement system shall not allow the purchase of nonqualified service credit, as defined by Section 415(n)(3)(C) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. Sec. 415(n)(3)(C)).

(b) Subdivision (a) shall not apply to an official application to purchase nonqualified service credit that is received by the public retirement system prior to January 1, 2013, that is subsequently approved by the system.

RECIPROCITY

Reciprocal retirement benefits are available to you if you either:
  • Enter service with Santa Barbara County within 180 days of leaving employment with a California public agency covered by a reciprocal retirement system, or
  • Leave County service and within 180 days begin regular employment with a public agency covered by a reciprocal system. 

Reciprocal systems include:

  • Counties subject to the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937:

Alameda
Contra Costa
Fresno
Imperial
Kern
Los Angeles
Marin

Mendocino
Merced
Orange
Sacramento
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Joaquin

San Mateo
Santa Barbara
Sonoma
Stanislaus
Tulare
Ventura

  • California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which covers employees of the State of California and contracting counties, cities and special districts,

  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS),

  • Judges’ Retirement System (JRS), and

  • Independent public retirement systems by virtue of their reciprocity agreements with CalPERS, including those operated by the County of San Luis Obispo, and the Cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

There are several advantages to establishing reciprocity

  • Service under both systems is used in determining eligibility for service retirement.

  • In the new system, your age for contribution purposes may be the same as your age when you entered the original system.

  • Your highest final average salary under either system is used when calculating benefits.

Submit the Reciprocity Request Form to an SBCERS office in order to establish reciprocity.

Reciprocal systems include:

  • California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which covers employees of the State of California and contracting counties, cities and special districts,

  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS),

  • Judges’ Retirement System (JRS),

  • Independent public retirement systems by virtue of their reciprocity agreements with CalPERS, including those operated by the County of San Luis Obispo, and the Cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, and

  • Counties subject to the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937:

Alameda
Contra Costa
Fresno
Imperial
Kern
Los Angeles
Marin

Mendocino
Merced
Orange
Sacramento
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Joaquin

San Mateo
Santa Barbara
Sonoma
Stanislaus
Tulare
Ventura

There are several advantages to establishing reciprocity

  • Service under both systems is used in determining eligibility for service retirement.

  • In the new system, your age for contribution purposes may be the same as your age when you entered the original system.

  • Your highest final average salary under either system is used when calculating benefits.

Submit the Reciprocity Request Form to an SBCERS office in order to establish reciprocity.