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Eligibility for Benefits

You are eligible for the Defined Benefit Program if you’re an employee of the California public school system, prekindergarten through community college, in a position that requires you to:

  • Have a credential, certificate or permit, or
  • Meet the minimum standards adopted by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

Only activities identified as creditable service count toward years of service for CalSTRS retirement. These activities include teaching, vocational or guidance counseling, services related to school curriculum development and a variety of administrative duties.

Full-Time Educators

If you are employed to perform creditable service on a full-time basis, you will automatically become a member of the Defined Benefit Program on the first day of employment. 

Full time is the days or hours of creditable service your employer requires a class of employees to work in a school year in order to receive full compensation earnable.

Part-Time Educators

If you are a part-time, substitute or temporary employee performing creditable service in the California public school system, you can choose to belong to the Defined Benefit Program or an alternative program offered by your employer, such as the Cash Balance Benefit Program.

You can elect membership only during a pay period in which you actually performed creditable service and on the appropriate form provided by your employer.

If you participate in the Cash Balance Benefit Program and later become a full-time employee, you automatically will become a member of the Defined Benefit Program.

Charter School Educators

If you are a charter school employee performing creditable service in a charter school that is eligible to receive state apportionment, you are eligible for the Defined Benefit Program only if your school’s charter designates the school’s participation in the Defined Benefit Program.

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