Whether you are a new public employee, or several years into your career, it's important to know about your benefits and how they impact your overall financial picture. But when you're in the classroom all day or plowing roads all night, and retirement is years away, who has time to do the research?
Luckily, with a new website, PERA has made it easier to understand your benefits -- how your money is being managed, the portability of your plan if you choose to leave public employment, what will be waiting for you when you finally reach that retirement finish line, and all the additional benefits that offer you financial security now and into the future.
Here are a few things you can explore now that we have these awesome new digs.
Ready to check it out? Let's start with the basics.
Features of the website that have always been there, but maybe not as easy to find, are helpful in understanding the options you have when it comes to planning your retirement from Colorado PERA. I will focus on people that are members of Colorado PERA, meaning people that are working or have worked under Colorado PERA and are not yet receiving a monthly benefit from us yet.
Colorado PERA. The PIN allows you to create a username and password on the Colorado PERA website. Having online access to your account now affords you the ability to use the website to its full functionality.
If you don’t remember or lost your PIN, use the Pin Request link under Members on the homepage.
What do you have as a PERA member?
On the homepage, you will see a link for Members. Under this link are many helpful topics that may appeal to you. One I would like to point out is the Built-in Benefits link. Built-in Benefits are benefits that are automatically earned by being a member of Colorado PERA after a specified time: a Survivor Benefit and a Disability Benefit. To read more about those, click here. The other link I’d like to bring your attention to is the HAS Tables. Your HAS Table displays the percentage of your Highest Average Salary that you will receive when you retire, based on your age and amount of service credit at retirement. If you need help staying motivated, print your HAS Table out, circle the percentage of income or age you’re shooting for, and put it on your refrigerator or desk.
Once you have created your account, simply log on and you will see our new Dashboard. The first thing you’ll want to do when you’re logged on is to check that your information is current. If you’ve moved or changed your email address, this is a good place to update that information. Below that section allows you access to see your 401(k), 457, and DC plan balances. We’ll come back to that shortly.
At the top, you’ll see a link for Account Information. Here, you can see your salary and the years of service you have under Colorado PERA. This is important to note, because your salary and years of service are part of a formula that determines how much you will receive in retirement (see HAS Table). If these numbers look off to you, call Colorado PERA and we will take a look at them.
You can also see who you have listed as your account beneficiaries. If this needs to be changed, this can be completed by filling out the online form for Beneficiary Change under Forms, also at the top.
Meet with us offline!
The last feature I’d like to point out under Account Information is the Appointment Scheduler. Colorado PERA offers a bevy of presentations that you can attend to learn more about various topics related to PERA. We offer a general meeting for members at any point in their career called a Benefit Information Meeting, which is helpful in understanding what membership in Colorado PERA entails. We also offer a meeting about purchasing service credit, another about our 401(k) and 457 plans called PERAPlus, and several others. These are available throughout the year all over Colorado. Call us to find out which meetings would be best for you to attend based on your circumstances.
Get a snapshot of your future
The next category across the top is PERA Calculators. If you’re itching to find out how much you will receive monthly from Colorado PERA once you retire, you can
play with the Monthly Retirement Benefit calculator. If your retirement benefit isn’t where you hoped it would be, there is always the option to purchase service credit. You can read more about the advantages of purchasing service credit here.
The cost to purchase service credit varies per person, and the cost specific to you can be found be using the Cost to Purchase calculator. From there, you can use the Effect on Benefit calculator to determine how much your monthly retirement benefit will increase depending on how much service credit was purchase.
Looking to establish more of a cushion? We've got you covered.
The last thing I’ll mention is the 401(k) Account Access link under Benefit Programs. If you aren’t contributing to a 401(k), and want to begin that process, go here. If you already have a 401(k) or 457 through Colorado PERA, you can visit the 401(k) Account Access Link to make changes to your account, designate which funds you want to be in, and see how your investments are faring. A free service offered by Voya, the administrator of our 401(k) and 457 plans, is a retirement advisor. This easy to use tool will offer advice to help you with the process of selecting various investment options based on your needs.
Don’t let retirement sneak up on you. By being knowledgeable about everything Colorado PERA membership offers, you will be ahead of the pack. Use the tools, read the resources, and ask questions if you have them to ensure you take advantage of the financial peace of mind PERA can offer you.