Our Sunday story about the increased interest in CalPERS' additional retirement service credit and its impact on CalPERS member services unit didn't mention one way you can speed up the cost estimate process for everyone: Use one of the fund's online calculators.
CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said doing the initial calculation yourself is the "easiest and quickest way for a member to get an idea of how much it will cost to purchase service credit." The ballpark estimate will scare off a lot of folks, since the benefit can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
More than half of the initial requests for airtime cost estimates that come to CalPERS don't result in a purchase.
But every cost request takes up to 90 days to process since CalPERS requires final reporting by the employer of the member's salary and there can be some back and forth with the employer while the fund waits for them to balance their payroll books.
All that waiting sometimes prompts members to call the fund for a status update, adding to the to the fund's call center workload.
But if members use the online calculator first and figure out that they can't afford the benefit, they can save themselves a lot of needless waiting for an estimate and conserve CalPERS' staff resources. If they get the online estimate and are still serious, they can then approach CalPERS for a formal estimate and options to purchase.
The fund's new computer system should eventually speed up the process, we're told, but it's still a good idea to do a little online legwork.