The Retirement Office is pleased to debut four new tools designed to help active and retired members plan and manage their retirements. Members will be able to enter information into the calculators and see for themselves how factors such as their planned date of retirement and amount of service credit may change their benefits. Employees can use these tools to take control of their retirement planning and understand their benefit options.
Seattle City Employees' Benefit Calculator
The Benefit Calculator allows members to assess the benefits they may receive under each of the City Employees' Retirement Options. It does not guarantee benefits, but uses each member's data as a basis for estimating likely individual retirement benefit amounts. Its accuracy depends on the accuracy of the information each user inputs.
For an explanation of each option, employees should consult the SCERS Handbook, which is available online, in addition to the online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which contain information on the pros and cons of each type of benefit.
The Benefit Calculator is only available for active and vested members. The data you input will be stored online and available to you the next time you access the calculator. Active members will need to enter their 8-digit employee number in the user name field. Members employed by the Health Department or Metro, as well as vested members must enter their 5-digit Retirement Number in the user name field. The Retirement Number is reflected on each member's Annual Statement. If you do not have a copy of your Annual Statement, download an "Account Balance Request" form from SCERS' website to request another copy.
Actuarial Cost Calculator
Employees can buy back previously lost service time in certain instances. For more information about purchasing previous service time, read the BuyBack Information and Actuarial Cost Examples article within the online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Some buybacks require the employee to pay the actuarial cost of his or her benefits, typically when the employee has missed other opportunities to purchase this time. The actuarial cost is, in today's dollars, the value of the benefits which employees are likely to receive from the purchased time. In other words, members must pay the difference between the benefits they would have received without purchasing service time and those they will receive after doing so.
The calculator shows the original benefit amount, which is the amount a member would receive each month without purchasing any service time. This can be compared to the new benefit amount, which would be the monthly benefit if the employee chooses to purchase the amount of service time he or she has indicated.
Vesting Estimate Calculator
The Vesting Calculator is useful for employees who are leaving City employment after at least five years of service and are "vested" in the Retirement System. They are eligible to receive a benefit in the future, when they are old enough to retire. These employees can determine approximately what their benefits from the City would be upon retirement and decide whether leaving their money in the Retirement System is a good option for them.
This calculator is also sometimes useful for current members who might retire in their mid 60's or older with over 30 years of City employment. Members might want to determine how extending their retirement or termination date could alter their benefits. Some individuals may decide that an increased retirement benefit is worth a few years of extra service. Others may determine that retiring earlier, even though this would result in a smaller benefit, will allow them to draw on their retirement funds for more years and enjoy more time as a retiree.
Retirement Income & Expense Calculator
The Retirement Income and Expense Calculator allows members to consider detailed plans for their retirement. The calculator compares expected retirement income to expected expenses and displays this comparison in graph form. The calculator can be used to determine whether the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System benefit, in combination with Social Security benefits and other retirement funds, will be sufficient to cover projected expenses. The calculator even lets members enter start and end dates for income or expense items which may only apply for a few years or which have different starting dates. The calculator displays results in today's dollars; however, there is also a field which allows members to play with different inflation rates in order to see how this might change their income and expenses.