What is CalSTRS?

What is CalSTRS?

CalSTRS, or California State Teachers' Retirement System, is the pension fund for public school educators in the state of California. The system provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to eligible members, including teachers, administrators, and other education-related personnel.

CalSTRS is one of the largest pension funds in the United States and serves over 964,000 members. CalSTRS manages a diverse portfolio of investments to fund retirement benefits for its members. The organization plays a crucial role in helping public school educators plan for their retirement and financial security.

CalSTRS operates independently of the state budget and is governed by a board of trustees. The board is responsible for making investment decisions, setting policies, and overseeing the administration of the pension system. The goal of CalSTRS is to provide a secure and sustainable retirement for California's educators.

How Does It Work?

The calculation of benefits from CalSTRS involves several factors including your membership category, service credit, final compensation, and retirement age. Here's a simplified overview of how CalSTRS benefits are generally calculated:

Service Credit:
Your service credit is a measure of your time as a CalSTRS member. It is calculated in years and fractions of years. The more years you have, the higher your service credit.

Final Compensation:
Final compensation is typically an average of your highest consecutive 12 or 36 months of earnable compensation (salary), usually at the end of your career.

Membership Category:
CalSTRS has different benefit structures based on membership categories. The two main categories are:

2% at 60: Members hired before January 1, 2013, receive a benefit of 2% of their final compensation for each year of service credit, with retirement available at age 60.
2% at 62: Members hired on or after January 1, 2013, receive a benefit of 2% of their final compensation for each year of service credit, with retirement available at age 62.

Age at Retirement:
The age at which you retire can affect your benefits. Members retiring before the normal retirement age may face a reduction in their benefits.

Beneficiary Option:
If you choose a survivor option, it can affect the amount of your monthly benefit. Options usually involve choosing a person who will continue to receive a portion of your retirement benefit after your death.

CalSTRS benefits can be complex and there are nuances in the calculation process. Our team runs CalSTRS estimations for clients via online resources within the context of financial planning. Nonetheless, we always encourage clients to contact CalSTRS directly for the most accurate and personalized information.

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