Leaving Before Retirement

If you leave the service of a MCERA-covered employer before you are eligible to retire, you will be asked to make a decision about the contributions and accrued interest in your Merced County Employees' Retirement Association (MCERA) account. The choices you have may vary, depending on your Tier membership and whether you are vested. Members are vested upon the completion of five years of service (including earned and purchased service for a MCERA employer, and reciprocal service. Purchased public service is not included).

If you leave employment, but cannot retire, please complete the Distribution of Contributions Election Form to select one of the following options and submit it to MCERA.

Establish Reciprocity


You may establish reciprocity by leaving your accumulated retirement contributions on deposit with MCERA and establishing membership in another reciprocal retirement system within six months. Reciprocity is an election you make with the retirement system. It is not established automatically.

Become A Deferred-vested Member


If you are not vested, you may elect to become a deferred member by leaving your accumulated contributions and interest on deposit and continuing to earn interest. Tier I through III members may retire at age 70 regardless of how many years of service you have. As a Safety member you may retire at 65 if you were a member prior to December 31, 1978.

Become A Deferred Non-vested Member


If you are not vested, you may elect to become a deferred member by leaving your accumulated contributions and interest on deposit and continue to earn interest. Tier 1 through III members may retire at age 70 regardless of how many years of service you have. As a Safety member you may retire at 65 if you were a member prior to December 31, 1978.

Take A Refund


If you terminate employment, you have the option of taking a refund of your contributions and interest, payable directly to you or rolled into another qualified retirement account. If the refund is payable directly to you, all pre-tax contributions plus interest will be subject to tax withholding. Please refer to the "Special Tax Notice Regarding Plan Payments and Federal Income Tax" section of the Distribution of Retirement Contributions Election form. The refund process takes six to eight weeks.

Returning To MCERA


Upon returning to MCERA membership, if your funds are still in the retirement system and you return to MCERA membership, your earlier service credit is intact, and you will resume earning service credit. If you withdrew your funds, you may redeposit your previously withdrawn contributions, plus the interest your funds would have earned if you had left them on deposit. Such a redeposit would restore the service credit that was forfeited by the withdrawal. Not withdrawing funds or restoring funds may provide some advantages in regard to Tier placement. For more information on a redeposit, please refer to the section on Purchasing Service Credit.