Forms & Publications


Term Definition
California Association of Public Retirement Systems (CALAPRS) A non-profit organization of public retirement systems in California.
Career Average Pay A career average pay formula is a benefit formula that bases benefits on the employee’s compensation over the entire period of service with the employer. A career average pay plan is a plan with such a formula.
Cash Balance Plan A defined benefit plan that simulates a defined contribution plan. Benefits are definitely determinable, but account balances are credited with a fixed rate of return and converted to a monthly pension benefit at retirement. See also target benefit plan.
CERL CERL is the abbreviation for "County Employees Retirement Law of 1937," which governs the accrual and payment of member benefits by the 20 California counties that operate under it. Enacted by the state legislature in 1937 (effective 1-1-38), CERL is contained within the California Government Code beginning at Section 31450 and includes all subsequent amendments.
Cliff Vesting Full (100%) vesting after x years of service, with no gradation of vesting before that time. All benefits vested after x years. Benefits must be 100% vested after five years, except under collectively bargained plans, which may require ten years of service.
COB The coordination of benefits (COB) rule applies in situations where a member (or dependent) is covered by both his/her own health insurance plan and another plan such as a spouse's insurer or Medicare. Under this rule, one plan is considered the primary payer and pays first, while the other plan is considered the secondary payer. Payment is coordinated under the COB rule to ensure that no more than 100% of any insurance claim is paid by all insurers.
COBRA COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) is a federal law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to certain employees and their dependents for a limited period of time when group health insurance coverage has terminated.
COLA A COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) is the annual percentage increase in a member's monthly retirement allowance. It is based on the movement of the Consumer Price Index.
Combined Fraction Limit §415(e) A provision in the Internal Revenue Code which limits the sum of benefits provided by an employer through defined benefit and deferred contribution plans.
Compensation The amount of wages, salary or other earned income an individual receives from services rendered as a result of employment or self-employment.
Compensation-Earnable Compensation earnable is the term that refers to the pensionable earnings base used to determine both: •The contributions a person pays as an active member in a contributory plan • The benefits that a member in any plan receives after retirement
Compensation-Final Final compensation is a member's average monthly compensation earnable during a specific consecutive period of time. It is used to compute his retirement allowance.
Conduit IRA A conduit IRA is a term used to describe an IRA that has received only funds that were rolled over from a qualified employer plan and is not commingled with other monies.
Conservator A conservator is a person appointed by a court to handle the affairs of someone who is legally incapacitated. When a conservator is a court-appointed payee for a minor child, benefit warrants are made payable to the conservator until the minor is 18 years old.
Constructive Receipt The controlling concept for determining the timing of tax liability; the IRS contends that the time at which an individual can “reach out and take” compensation is when it should be taxed, even if the employee chooses not to take it at that time.
Consumer Price Index An indicator of the cost of living published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. It is an indicator of the changing purchasing power of the dollar. Specifically, it measures price changes of items in a fixed “market basket” of goods and services purchased by a hypothetical average family. (Sometimes mistakenly called the “cost-of-living index.”)
Contingent Annuity See annuity, joint and survivor.
Continuation of Benefit Under COBRA, employers have the obligation to make available to employees and their dependents some continued benefit coverage, even after the employment relationship ceases. Employees/dependents must pay for this coverage.
Continuing Allowance A monthly benefit that is paid subsequent to the death of a member. If paid to a spouse or named beneficiary, the allowance is a lifetime benefit. If paid to a minor child, the allowance continues until the child is no longer eligible.
Contributions- Employer Employer contributions are monies contributed to the retirement fund by the sponsors of the plan for all plan participants.
Contributions- Member Member contributions are the retirement contributions made by plan members who participate in a contributory plan. The contribution amount is calculated by multiplying an age-based percentage rate by the member's compensation earnable.
Contributions- Nontaxable After-tax or nontaxable contributions are member contributions made through payroll deductions (or any lump-sum payment which are taxed at the time they were made. Nontaxable contributions are not subject to taxation when a member withdraws them or retires, although the interest earned on them is taxable.
Contributions- Taxable Pre-tax or taxable contributions are member contributions made through payroll deductions which are excluded from a member’s taxable income for the year in which they are made. They also include those contributions that are rolled over into a contributory plan either from an IRA or another qualified employer plan.   Taxable contributions are not taxable until received either as retirement income or as a lump-sum payment when a member terminates or dies.
Contributory Benefit Plan A benefit plan in which the employee contributes part (or all) of the cost, and any remainder is covered by the employer.
Contributory Plan A contributory plan is a plan that requires its members to make contributions in order to earn retirement service credit.
Copayment Copayments are part of a health care cost sharing arrangement in which a plan member pays a specified charge for a service, such as $10 for an office visit. The member is usually responsible for payment at the time the service is rendered. 
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) An across-the-board wage and salary increase or supplemental payment designed to bring pay in line with increases in the cost of living. COLAS are sometimes included in union contracts, generally tied to increases in price indexes published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.