Plan for Retirement

We can help make sure you get the most out of your Seattle City Employees' Retirement System benefits, whether retirement is just a few years away or still decades into the future.

New employees of the city of Seattle are automatically enrolled as members of Seattle City Employees' Retirement System, unless they are exempt employees or temporary employees.

Exempt employees have the option to become members immediately; however, if you are an exempt employee, you must take the initiative to join by completing the Membership Application for Exempt Employees.

Temporary employees may become members after working 1,044 hours. Contact us to review your eligibility and join the system.

Returning employees:

If you leave employment with the City and then return in a permanent, non-exempt position, your membership in Seattle City Employees' Retirement System will automatically be reinstated. If you withdrew your contributions to the retirement plan, you have the option to redeposit those funds and buy back service time.

If you leave City employment and are rehired in an exempt position your membership will only be automatically reinstated if you were previously a member and you did not withdraw your contributions. If you withdrew your contributions, you have the option to redeposit those funds and buy back service time.  Contact us to re-join the system.

If you leave employment with the City and are rehired in a temporary position, your membership in Seattle City Employees' Retirement System is automatically reinstated if you were previously a member and did not withdraw your contributions. If you withdrew your contributions, you would be eligible to rejoin Seattle City Employees' Retirement System after working at least 1,044 hours. You also have the option to buy back previous service time.

If you are redepositing funds you previously withdrew, you can cover some or all of the cost with a rollover from another retirement account.  Inform us in writing using the Rollover Contribution Request form. 

Seattle City Employees' Retirement System offers various workshops to help members prepare for retirement.

Workshops are held at the retirement office (Pacific Building, 720 Third Avenue, 9th Floor) unless otherwise noted. Check the calendar for upcoming dates and to enroll.

The Planning for Retirement workshop is for employees who plan to retire in the next four to seven years, and helps you learn what to think about and how to prepare.

For those within three years of retirement, there are seminars that offer information about the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, financial planning, and estate planning.

All seminars are listed on the Retirement page calendar.  Simply "sign up" if you wish to attend.

Email us at retirecity@seattle.gov if you have questions.

Under certain conditions, the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System allows members to purchase service credit for unpaid leave. These purchases, called "buy backs," can occur in a variety of instances. Review this list to see if any may apply to you. If you think you may be eligible to buy back time, contact us to review your options. If you are eligible, we can prepare an estimate of what it would cost to buy back the service time.

  • Initial six months of employment. This applies to exempt employees who were hired at a time when they could not join the Retirement System until after their first six months of employment.
  • Temporary employment. Employees who worked as a temporary employee before being hired as a regular employee may, in some cases, be able to buy back service time for the time worked in the temporary position after they were eligible to join the system.
  • Exempt employees. Exempt employees who did not enroll in the Retirement System right away can buy back the service time they missed.
  • Medical leave or injury time lost. In some cases, time missed due to medical leave or injury can be bought back.
  • Military service time. Some military leave before or during City employment can be purchased as service time.
  • Redeposit of withdrawn funds. If you left City employment, withdrew your contributions, and have now rejoined the City, you may be able to redeposit your contributions.
  • Portability redeposit. If you withdrew contributions from another Washington state public system, you may be able to redeposit your contributions with the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System.

Some types of buy back purchases can only be made at the time of retirement or separation from the City, while others can be made at any time, and others are only available during specific time windows. 

More information can be found in the Buy Backs Summary.

Some buy backs require you to pay the actuarial cost of the benefits. The actuarial cost is the current value of the benefits that you will receive from the purchased time. In other words, you must pay the difference between the benefits you would have received without purchasing service time and those you will receive after doing so. The actuarial cost calculator shows the current benefit estimate, which is the estimated amount you would receive each month without purchasing any service time. This can be compared to the new benefit amount, which would be the estimated benefit if you choose to purchase the amount of service time indicated.

Retirement specialists can also help you understand your options. You can apply for a buy back by submitting a Buyback or Redeposit Calculation Request.