Current as of August 12, 2020
We know that our members may have concerns about the implications of the coronavirus outbreak to your long-term retirement plans and how to access CalSTRS services during this difficult time.
The health and well-being of our members is of the utmost importance. Our goal is to care for you as much as you care for your students.
During this time, you can rely on CalSTRS to continue to pay your benefits on time.
We will keep this page updated with the latest news on your CalSTRS services.
Member benefit payments
Due to the State of California’s response to COVID-19, statements for direct deposit will not be printed and mailed until further notice. Retirees and beneficiaries will still receive their benefits via direct deposit. Members receiving paper-only payments will continue to receive a check. However, we ask you to consider opting into direct deposit for your benefit payment via myCalSTRS.com. Note the processing timeline is 1 to 2 pay periods. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we are making sure your benefit payments will be paid on time.
We are available for member inquiries or questions by calling 800-228-5453, between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. We encourage our customers use secure messaging through myCalSTRS or our secure online form or utilize CalSTRS.com to find answers to frequently asked questions. We will respond to secured messages as soon as possible.
With the recent guidance from local public health agencies and State of California, we are implementing several actions at our Member Service Centers.
- All member service centers are closed.
- All workshops are currently canceled, but several will soon be offered in webinar format.
- We are rescheduling in-person individual benefit planning sessions to telephone benefit planning sessions.
- We encourage members to register for telephone benefits planning sessions via their myCalSTRS account.
- We are rescheduling in-person group benefit planning sessions to webinar format or individual telephone benefit planning sessions.
- CalSTRS staff will be reaching out to those with scheduled sessions to advise of these above changes.
- We have worked with the building managers at all our facilities to increase the frequency of cleaning.
- For member inquiries, questions about appointments or to schedule, please call 800-228-5453, between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- More details are available on the Benefits Planning page.
Accessing CalSTRS online services
During this time, our capacity for calls to our Member Contact Center may be reduced. We encourage you to visit CalSTRS.com and myCalSTRS.com for many of your information needs. You also may use secure messaging through myCalSTRS or our secure online form.
CalSTRS offers a variety of online services for our members at myCalSTRS. You can:
- Access your Retirement Progress Report.
- Manage your beneficiary recipient designations.
- Change your state and federal tax withholding preferences.
- View your account balances.
- Complete and submit CalSTRS forms electronically.
- Elect a preretirement election of an option.
- Apply for Service Retirement.
- View and print your 1099-R forms and benefit payment statements.
- Sign up for Direct Deposit.
- Ask questions about your accounts and receive prompt, secure answers.
- Request e-delivery of newsletters, notifications and statements.
If you have not yet signed up for myCalSTRS, and need help learning how to register, please view our registration guide.
As school districts, county offices of education or other governing bodies have authorized school closures based on COVID-19 concerns, CalSTRS remains committed to working with our employer partners and understands the need for guidance. On March 13, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20 ensuring California public school districts, county offices of education and charter schools retain state funding even in the event of physical closure. Among other things, the order provides that even if schools temporarily close due to COVID-19, school districts must continue to pay employees. As long as employees are paid during the closures, there should be no impact to a member’s service credit because their earnings should reflect the compensation they would have received had schools not been closed. CalSTRS is working proactively with employers to monitor any potential impacts school closures could have on service credit for our members and reviewing each closure on a case-by-case basis. We also encourage our employers to contact the CalSTRS Member Account Services Division if they have questions about the implications of closures.
Investment portfolio preparedness
The spread of COVID-19 has impacted global markets over the short term. CalSTRS is a long-term investor, and we think in terms of decades—not days, weeks or months. The CalSTRS investment portfolio is broadly diversified in order to respond to periods of market volatility and uncertainty. Our members’ retirement benefits continue to be secure.
Under the recently signed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, most U.S. residents are eligible for one-time recovery rebate payments. For the vast majority of taxpayers, no action on their part will be required in order to receive these payments. The IRS will use 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility, and in most cases if no 2019 tax return is available, the IRS will use the 2018 tax return or information from other federal benefit programs.
Individuals who do not typically file taxes due to their low income or who do not receive Social Security benefits (like many CalSTRS members) must take either of the following actions in order to receive their recovery rebate checks:
- File a 2019 tax return, or
- Enter required information via this web-based portal provided by the IRS: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
Many low-income taxpayers are eligible to file tax returns online for free through the IRS Free File program. Members should consult a tax professional if they are unsure about whether to file their taxes.
For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know.
Other retirement-related changes within the CARES Act
In general, although the CARES Act does not include changes affecting public defined benefit pension plans, such as CalSTRS Defined Benefit, Defined Benefit Supplement and Cash Balance Benefit programs, the act does provide additional flexibility to access and manage Defined Contribution (DC) accounts, including CalSTRS’ Pension2 403(b) and 457 accounts. In addition to providing employers with the flexibility to allow for penalty-free coronavirus-related distributions and loans from DC accounts, the CARES Act suspends Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2020 for DC plans, including 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans, as well as IRAs. For more information, please login to your Pension2 account or, if you have another account, visit your plan administrator’s web site.
Please note that the RMD deadlines for CalSTRS Defined Benefit, Defined Benefit Supplement and Cash Balance Benefit programs, as recently changed by the SECURE Act of 2019, are unaffected by the CARES Act.
Disclaimer: Although the CARES Act has been signed into law, the full effects of the law are still being determined and additional guidance may be issued by the federal government. As a result, despite CalSTRS’ efforts to provide current information about the effects of the CARES Act the information presented here may be out of date and should not be considered a conclusive statement of the law. In the event that this information conflicts with the actual law, the law takes precedence.
Additional information about COVID-19
California is issuing daily updates about the status of COVID-19 in our state.
- Find information about the disease and how to protect yourself on the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 webpage.
- Read more on how to protect yourself and others at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
- Learn how to avoid scams related to the COVID-19 crisis at the Federal Trade Commission consumer information page.
- Find information as it becomes available on stimulus payment checks and taxes at the Internal Revenue Service website.