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Getting Ready to Retire?

Getting Ready to Retire?

As you prepare for retirement and seek to transition your current benefits as an active employee to a retiree, there are a number of key things you need to know and important deadlines that you need to follow in order to ensure that your transition is complete, accurate and seamless.

The time and effort you place formally starting the process in advance of deadlines, gathering your documentation and preparing for this important transition will save you from possible gaps in coverage, penalties from Medicare or other possible issues that are triggered on your last day of employment. 

Make an informed decision. First, confirm your years of credited service with a City employer with your retirement system (SFERS, CalPERS, CalSTRS, or PARS). Remember–if you were hired after January 9, 2009, other government service is not credited for retiree health benefits eligibility.

Contact the San Francisco Health Service System (SFHSS). An SFHSS Benefits Analyst will review your service credits, health benefits eligibility, retiree health plan options, and premium contributions. 

Plan Ahead. If you are Medicare-eligible due to age or disability, you must contact the Social Security Administration to apply for Medicare before you retire. It can take Social Security up to three months to complete processing of your Medicare enrollment.

Eligible retirees have the opportunity to enroll themselves and eligible family members in medical, dental and vision benefits. Enrollment must take place within 30 days of the initial retirement date, no later than 30 days after a qualifying event, or during the annual Open Enrollment period in October. 

All retirees and their dependents who are participating in an SFHSS-administered health plan are required to enroll in federal Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B as soon as they are eligible.

Don't forget to read through our New Retiree Enrollment page for a summary of the most important deadlines and next steps on initiating the process of transitioning from active employee benefits coverage to retiree benefits coverage.

Eligibility Rules

Once you are enrolled, retiree premium contributions are deducted from pension checks monthly. Review your pension check to verify that the correct premium contribution is being deducted. If your pension check does not cover your required premiums you must contact the San Francisco Health Service System for options on how to make your monthly payments. 

All Medicare-eligible retirees and dependents must maintain continuous enrollment in Medicare. To ensure there is no break in your medical coverage, you must pay all Medicare premiums that are due to the federal government on time.

Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to change benefit elections for you and your eligible family members without any qualifying events. Changes made during the annual October Open Enrollment period are effective on January 1st of the following year. For example, in 2018, the Open Enrollment period was October 1-31, 2018. Changes made during this period start on January 1, 2019.

You may only make changes to benefit elections during the plan year if there is a qualifying event. 

Contact SFHSS three months before your retirement date to learn about enrolling in retiree benefits. The transition of health benefits from active to retiree status does not happen automatically. If eligible, you must elect to continue retiree health coverage by submitting the retiree enrollment form and supporting documents to SFHSS by required deadlines. 

Eligible new retirees must complete enrollment in retiree health coverage within 30 calendar days of their retirement date. If you do not enroll within 30 days, you can only apply for retiree benefits during the next Open Enrollment. 

New retirees should plan ahead. If you are Medicare eligible, you must be enrolled in Medicare to enroll in benefits. 

The Social Security Administration may take up to three months to process Medicare enrollment so apply at least three months before your 65th birthday.

To be eligible for retiree health benefits, employees hired after January 9, 2009 must have at least five years of credited service with a City employer: City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Unified School District, City College of San Francisco, or the Superior Court of San Francisco. Other government service is not credited. If this applies to you, make sure you understand the City Charter rules that determine your eligibility and retiree premium contributions before finalizing your retirement date. 

Depending on your retirement date, there can be a gap between when active employee coverage ends and retiree coverage begins. Setting a retirement date at the end of the month will help avoid a gap in SFHSS coverage. 

You may also visit the San Francisco Health Service System office at 1145 Market Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco and speak with a Benefits Analyst.

We are open Monday to Friday from 8am - 5pm daily (except every other Thursday when we open at 9:30am). No appointment is necessary.

Medical, Dental and Additional Benefits

If you are an active employee getting ready to retire, the medical, dental and additional benefits that are available to you will depend on whether you will be a Retiree with Medicare or Retiree without Medicare. 

Select the option below that describes your status for a complete list of plans and benefits available to you.

Did You Know?

Members planning to retire can continue their existing dental benefits plan for an additional 18 months under COBRA before enrolling in a retiree dental plan in order to maximize their benefits coverage. Many retirees elect to do this in order to get major dental work completed before retirement.