FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
If you have any questions you would like answered in this column, please send them to Round the Roundhouse or to PERA.
Q: How do I find out how much money I have in my PERA account? Are the employer contributions included?
A: You may obtain your account balance in two ways. You may call 1-800-342-3422 at any time, listen carefully to the selections and follow the instructions. You will find out your account balance, how much the taxes would be if you requested a refund and what amount you would receive as your refund.
The second way to obtain your account balance is to speak to a PERA Customer Service Representative. You may call 1-800-342-3422 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 5:00 pm, and choose to the option to speak to a Customer Service Representative.
The employer contributions are not included in your account balance
because by statute employer contributions stay in the PERA Fund
and are used for investments and to pay costs to the fund.
Q: If I notify my employer of my new address, do I need to also notify PERA?
A: YES! The PERA database is separate from your employer's records. It is the member's responsibility to notify PERA of any personal information that has changed. This includes changes to your address, name, marital status or your beneficiary.
Please send PERA your changes in writing along with your social
security number. Beneficiary changes should be made on the appropriate
beneficiary forms. Those forms are available through your employer
or you can log onto the PERA web site at www.state.nm.us/pera and
download the beneficiary forms to fill out to send to PERA.
Q: What is the difference between a Refund Beneficiary Form and a Survivor Beneficiary Form?
A: The Refund Beneficiary Form is used when a member dies with less than 5 years of service credit and the death is non-duty related. This form is used to refund the member's employee contributions, plus interest, to the designated person on the form.
The Survivor Beneficiary Form is used for a member who dies after they have vested with at least 5 years of verified service credit or whose death is job - duty related. The person designated on the survivor beneficiary form receives a monthly survivor benefit for the rest of his or her life. The designated survivor beneficiary cannot sign over this benefit to any other person.
A member may only name one person on each form. Multiple beneficiaries
are NOT allowed on a PERA beneficiary form. Only one person can
be named on the Survivor Beneficiary Form because the survivor benefit
is an annuity based on the survivor beneficiary's expected life
span. If more than one person is named on a Survivor Beneficiary
Form, the form is invalid and the member's estate will be refunded
the employee's contributions, plus interest, and the account will
Q: I am getting ready to retire. Why do I have to provide PERA with a certified copy of my divorce decree and marital settlement agreement? The divorce occurred a long time ago. Why does it matter now?
A: New Mexico is a community property state and PERA needs
to make sure there are no legal claims against your retirement benefits
before your benefits begin. Plus, it is for your protection so no
one can make a claim against your pension or your survivor's pension
at a later date because PERA has already established that you are
solely entitled to your retirement benefits.
Q: I'm getting ready to retire. What do I need to do? I was told I have to have an appointment in order to retire. Is this true?
A: You should contact PERA and request a retirement kit. The forms you need to fill out are in the kit. In addition to the forms in the kit, you will need to submit a copy of your birth certificate, a copy of your beneficiary's birth certificate (if you chose to have a beneficiary), a copy of your marriage certificate (if you are married) and a court endorsed copy of any divorce decrees and property settlement agreement (if you have been divorced). All changes you make to your Application for Pension must be made in writing. If you decide to change your retirement date, it is imperative to notify PERA in writing prior to the requested retirement date or your retirement benefits could be delayed.
To answer your second question, no, you do not need to make an
appointment with a PERA Customer Service Representative in order
to retire. If you have any questions about your retirement options,
however, PERA encourages you to talk to a Customer Service Representative.
You can submit your retirement information through the mail or drop
it off at the PERA offices. If you would feel more comfortable,
you can make an appointment with a PERA Customer Service Representative
to go over your paperwork. PERA recommends you submit your completed
application 60 days prior to your expected retirement date so there
is plenty of time to complete your retirement application.
Q: I have time with ERA and now I work for a PERA employer. I want to roll my ERA money into my new PERA account. What do I need to do?
A: You do not need to roll your ERA account balance over to PERA. PERA recognizes the service credit with ERA as long as you leave your money on account with ERA. This is called reciprocity service. The service credit with ERA will be combined with the PERA service credit to count toward the years needed to retire from PERA.
When you retire the ERA service will be calculated under the ERA
formula and the PERA service credit will be calculated using the
retirement plan you qualify under at the time your retire. Then
both amounts are added together to combine for your total benefit
amount. Since you are combining service from two different retirement
systems, you would receive each amount when you are able to retire
under each system. Retiring with service under both systems, generally
takes a longer to process so expect to wait an additional time to
receive your first retirement check.
Q: I haven't received my statement in over a year. When are they sent out?
A: PERA sends out the Member Statements once a year in August.
If you haven't received your Annual Member Statement, contact PERA
to check on your address and to see if your Annual Member Statement
has been returned by the US Post Office after the first week in
September. Always remember to notify PERA in writing with any changes
in your address.
Q: If I leave my job in the middle of the month when would my retirement date become effective?
A: Your retirement becomes effective the first of the month
following receipt of your completed application and all required
supporting documentation, termination of employment with all PERA
affiliated employers and determination by PERA that you have successfully
met all eligibility requirements and conditions. PERA does not retire
members in the middle of the month.
Q: After I retire, do I have to wait to go to work for an ERA employer?
A: The 90 day waiting period does not apply to PERA retirees going to work for an ERA employer. You must wait to go to work for the ERA employer until after your effective retirement date.