Rules for California educators working after retirement

Blog entry
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Retirement is changing rapidly around the world. The norm of winding down a career at age 65 is no longer so normal, and for many, retirement doesn’t mean a permanent departure from your craft.

As a CalSTRS member, you can take a job outside the California public school system any time after retirement with no penalty toward your pension payments. This includes teaching for private schools, public schools outside of California, and the California State University and University of California systems.

However, if you re-enter the California public school system, there are rules.

If you return to work (which includes working as a substitute teacher) as an employee, an independent contractor, or an employee of a third party, you’re subject to restrictions under California state and federal law. Restrictions include a postretirement waiting period (also known as a separation-from-service requirement) of 180 calendar days before taking a public education job and an annual postretirement earnings limit: $48,428 is the earnings limit for the 2021–22 fiscal year. The earnings limit is revisited every year.

Summer 2021 update

In August 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-12-21 to provide additional flexibility to hire retired teachers during the Governor’s COVID-19 State of Emergency. Among other provisions, the executive order streamlines CalSTRS’ exemption process to allow eligible retired CalSTRS members to return to work prior to the standard 180-calendar-day post-retirement waiting period.

While the 180-calendar-day separation-from-service requirement is still in effect, the executive order suspends the need for school board approval to apply for an exemption to that requirement. The retiree must still meet other post-retirement requirements outlined here and the retiree’s employer must submit the necessary form to CalSTRS prior to returning to work.

Please see our Working After Retirement fact sheet for more details. If you have questions, call us at 800-228-5453 or send a secure online message using myCalSTRS.

We know teaching is not just a job, but a source of joy and, for many, a life calling. We want to equip you with the facts before you enter the next stage of your life and career.