The "second choice window" is an extended opportunity for Savings Choice participants to switch prospectively from Savings Choice to Pension Choice, and become members of the UC Retirement Plan (UCRP). This is a big decision, so UC is allowing plenty of time for you to discuss your options with a Fidelity Retirement Planner and/or your personal financial advisor.

The second choice window opens on Jan. 1 of the fifth anniversary of the calendar year in which you made your initial election and extends through May 31 five years later (as long as you are still an active employee when you submit your election). For example, if you elected Savings Choice at any point in 2016, your second choice window opens on Jan. 1, 2021, and closes on May 31, 2026.

Enrollment in Pension Choice cannot be revoked. Whether you select Pension Choice, are enrolled in Pension Choice after 90 days, or switch to Pension Choice during your second choice window, you may not change your participation from Pension Choice to Savings Choice.

Understanding your choice

A switch from Savings Choice to Pension Choice is a change in the primary retirement benefits you will contribute to going forward; it is not retroactive. 

If you switch to Pension Choice:

  • You will remain in the pension plan for the remainder of your career, even if you separate from UC and return to another eligible position later. Participants in Pension Choice may not switch to Savings Choice.
  • Your Savings Choice account balance will remain yours. On the date the change takes effect, contributions (from you and UC) to your Savings Choice account will stop, and contributions to UCRP will begin.
  • The service credit you earned as a participant in Savings Choice:
    • Will count toward vesting in UCRP and toward your retiree health benefits.
    • Will not count as UCRP service credit toward the calculation of your pension benefit or toward vesting in your Pension Choice supplemental DC Plan account, if you have one. Please see "How will a switch affect my retirement benefits?" under Frequently Asked Questions.

Your move from Savings Choice to Pension Choice will be effective the next plan year (which begins on July 1), depending on when you submit your election form. For example, if your form is received on or before May 31, 2021, the change will be effective on July 1, 2021. If your form is received on or after June 1, 2021, your election will be effective July 1, 2022.

What you need to do

No action is required if you decide to continue participating in the defined contribution option. If you do not submit an election form, you will remain a Savings Choice participant.

If you decide to switch your primary retirement benefits to Pension Choice, complete and sign the election form and return it to the Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC). The election may only be made through paper form and must be submitted directly to the RASC.

Consider your decision carefully. As soon as your enrollment form has been submitted, your decision to switch to Pension Choice cannot be revoked. Enrollment in Pension Choice is permanent. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The second choice window opens on Jan. 1 of the fifth anniversary of the calendar year in which you made your initial election and extends through May 31 five years later, as shown below. You must be an active employee when you submit your election.

Not sure when you elected Savings Choice? Go to myUCretirement.com/choose and log in using your NetBenefits username and password. Your confirmation letter, showing your election date, will appear.

Savings Choice Election Date

Second choice window opens

Second choice window closes

July 1, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2016

Jan. 1, 2021

May 31, 2026

Jan. 1, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2017

Jan. 1, 2022

May 31, 2027

Jan. 1, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2018

Jan. 1, 2023

May 31, 2028

Jan. 1. 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019

Jan. 1, 2024

May 31, 2029

Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020

Jan. 1, 2025

May 31, 2030

The decision to switch from Savings Choice to Pension Choice is complicated. Since you have plenty of time, it's a good idea to talk to a Fidelity Retirement Planner and/or your personal financial advisor to help you understand whether the decision is right for you.

Your future retirement benefits will be calculated differently if you switch from Savings Choice to Pension Choice.

Savings Choice is considered a “defined contribution” program. As a Savings Choice participant, you and UC make defined contributions to a retirement savings account. When you retire, your account balance is based on contributions from you and UC, plus investment performance.

If you switch from Savings Choice to Pension Choice, your Savings Choice account (including contributions from you and UC) will belong to you, and you will continue to direct your investments. When you retire, you can draw money from your Savings Choice account, in addition to receiving a monthly pension benefit from UCRP

On the date your switch is effective, contributions from you and UC to your Savings Choice account will stop, and you’ll begin contributing to UCRP and earning UCRP service credit. Pension Choice is considered a “defined benefit” program. Once you have earned five years of combined Savings Choice and UCRP service credit, you are vested in UCRP, which means that you are eligible to receive a defined pension benefit, subject to plan rules.

UCRP also provides disability and survivor benefits for qualifying eligible members and survivors, and members can choose someone to receive monthly lifetime income upon their death.

Calculating your UCRP pension benefit

Your pension benefit is calculated based on your highest average 36 months of eligible pay (up to the PEPRA or IRS maximum), your age at retirement and your UCRP service credit. The service credit you earned as a participant in Savings Choice will not count toward this calculation.

If you are eligible for a Pension Choice supplemental account, your mandatory contributions to your supplemental account will vest (become yours) immediately. UC’s contributions will vest after you have earned five years of UCRP service credit. The service credit you earned as a participant in Savings Choice will not count toward vesting in UC's contribution to your supplemental account.

For example:

You select Savings Choice on July 1, 2016, and decide to switch as soon as your second choice window opens on Jan. 1, 2021. You begin earning UCRP service credit on July 1, 2021. You retire at 65, after 25 years with UC.

Retiring at 65 gives you the maximum "age factor" of .0250, and you have 20 years of UCRP service credit. Your basic retirement income from UCRP will be 50.0% (.0250 x 20) of your highest average eligible compensation, up to the PEPRA maximum at the time you retire.

As a staff member whose eligible pay exceeded the PEPRA maximum, you and UC contributed to a supplemental Pension Choice account for 20 years.

At retirement, your primary retirement benefits would include accumulations in your Savings Choice account, accumulations in your supplemental Pension Choice account, and basic retirement income from UCRP. 

Your service credit appears on your dashboard when you log in to your UC Retirement At Your Service (UCRAYS) account. For a breakdown (including service credit you may have earned during previous periods of employment with UC), select "Membership Details" on your dashboard, or under "My Account" on the left-hand menu. 

Learn more about UCRAYS, including how to register and log in.

No, you do not have the option to purchase UCRP service credit based on your time spent in Savings Choice.

The Regents item on the Retirement Choice Program, approved by the Regents in March 2016, stated that a Savings Choice participant should be provided a one-time opportunity to switch prospectively to Pension Choice after five years or, for faculty and lecturers, one year after the decision on tenure or security of employment, if later. This recommendation considered that most faculty and staff would be likely to stay long-term at the University after five years, and typically would be vested in UCRP if working full-time.

Opening the second choice window at the fifth anniversary of employment and keeping it open for over five years satisfies the Regents' recommendation and allows staff, faculty and lecturers adequate time to make this important decision. 

Employee contributions to retirement benefits are not always allocated evenly over the plan year, which begins on July 1. For those with higher salaries, contributions stop at the point in the year that the employee's contributions reach a limit set by the IRS. Participants must switch to Pension Choice on July 1, the beginning of a new plan year, to ensure that their contributions for the plan year do not exceed IRS guidelines.

No. As soon as your enrollment form has been submitted, your decision to switch to Pension Choice cannot be revoked. You will not be able to switch back to Savings Choice even if:

  • You change your mind before July 1, when your switch is effective
  • You separate from UC and return to an eligible position later in your career