Retired Member Benefits

Base Retirement Benefit

A member's Base Retirement Benefit is established at the time of retirement. The amount of the Base Benefit is determined by the retirement plan benefit formula, the member's age at the time of retirement, the amount of service credit accrued at the time of retirement and the average monthly salary for the highest consecutive pay periods as prescribed by the member's plan, usually either one year or three years. The Base Retirement Benefit does not change over the life of the retired member. It is possible however, for the gross monthly retirement benefit to change if for example, cost-of-living adjustments are granted and applied.

Retirement Benefit COLA (Increases/Decreases)

Retired members and beneficiaries receiving survivor benefits are eligible1 for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) annually. In accordance with the CERL (County Employees Retirement Law) and PEPRA (Public Employees Pension Reform Act) the Board of Retirement (BOR) can grant a COLA of up to a maximum of either 2% or 3%, depending on the retirees' retirement plan. Early each year, the System's Actuary calculates changes in the Consumer Price Index (rounded to the nearest 1/2 percent) then submits a recommendation2 to the Board, who reviews in their January or February meeting and votes on the amount to grant for the current year. The COLA becomes effective on April 1st and is first seen on retirees' May 1st benefit payments.

The 2019 Retiree COLA will be 4%. All Legacy General and Safety Plans will see a 3% increase, with a 1% COLA carry-over bank. Both Plan 7 and Plan 8 will see a 2% increase, with a 2% carry-over bank.

1 General Plan 2 retirement benefits are not eligible for COLAs
2 Actuary's 2019 COLA Analysis and Recommendation Letter

Active Member Benefits

Retirement Plan Information

Your retirement benefits are explained within the SUMMARY PLAN DESCRIPTION Books for each of the plan types. To view the General Plan, Safety Plan and APCD Plan benefits, please select the appropriate link below.

Retirement Benefit Education

Q&A Sessions

Q&A (Question and Answer) sessions are open to all members. An overview of retirement benefits is provided in these informal sessions which are geared toward audience participation and discussion. Reservations are not required for these sessions. For more information and a schedule of future sessions, please visit our Q&A Sessions page.


The Retirement System hosts Pre-Retirement Workshops for our members who are considering retiring within 2 to 5 years of the workshop date. Reservations are required for these workshops so that a personalized SBCERS retirement planning packet can be prepared for attendees. Spouses and significant others are welcome to attend with you. Workshop presentations will made by representatives from SBCERS, Social Security, Empower Retirement Services and Retired Employees of Santa Barbara County (RESBC). For additional information and a schedule of upcoming workshops, please visit our Pre-Retirement Workshop page.

Social Security and Medicare Presentation

For questions related to Social Security and Medicare, please watch this presentation created by the Social Security Administration.