One of the most important benefits you receive as a public employee is membership in the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico. PERA provides a lifetime pension when you retire and a lifetime pension for your beneficiary as well, if one is chosen.
PERA is a defined benefit plan. That means both you and your employer contribute a certain percentage (you from your salary, employer from its funds) towards your retirement. Benefits are paid when certain age and service credit eligibility requirements are met, regardless of the amount of member contributions paid into the plan. Your benefit will also increase if you are eligible for a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA).
PERA administers two tiers of benefits:
- TIER 1 – you are in tier 1 if you are hired for the first time on or before June 30, 2013; had member contributions on account as of June 30, 2013; were retired as of June 30, 2013.
- TIER 2 – you are in tier 2 if you were a new member hired on or after July 1, 2013.
Different plan benefits are applied to each tier.
Beyond normal retirement requirements PERA also provides benefits for members who must leave service before retirement age because of a disability.