Early Career

Congratulations on your new job and welcome to the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico (PERA)! Your journey to retirement starts now and PERA is your partner!

Your PERA retirement account may be your greatest asset, which is why it's important for you to understand more about the value of the benefit you're earning. The resources will help you make the most of your PERA membership as you continue on your path toward retirement.

  • What You Need to Know
    • The Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico (PERA) is a 401a qualified government plan governed by the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Act. You will be eligible to receive a lifetime benefit when you meet certain retirement eligibility requirements. PERA not only provides a defined benefit plan, but also offers you the opportunity to participate in PERA’s voluntary deferred compensation plan known as SmartSave.

      PERA provides benefits to over 47,000 active members and over 42,000 retirees and beneficiaries. PERA has 31 coverage plans, two tiers of membership and a vesting period of 5 years. PERA is governed by a 12-member Board of Trustees.

      PERA Member and Employer Contributions

      PERA provides 31 different coverage plans and you fall under a certain plan that your PERA-affiliated employer has chosen to provide. There are over 300 PERA-affiliated employers throughout the state of New Mexico. Every time you get paid, a portion of your paycheck automatically goes into your PERA retirement account. These contributions will always belong to you. Your employer also contributes to PERA and PERA invests those dollars for you and all PERA members. You will not see your employer contributions until you are in retirement. Your employee contributions accrue interest each June 30th at a rate set by PERA's Board. To view PERA’s plans, visit pages 13-14 of PERA’s Member Handbook

      There are two tiers of membership under PERA, which include Tier 1 and Tier 2. You are a TIER 1 member if you were hired for the first time on or before June 30, 2013; and had member contributions on account as of June 30, 2013; or were retired as of June 30, 2013. You are a TIER 2 member if you were hired for the first time on or after July 1, 2013; or refunded your employee contributions on or before June 30, 2013, and returned to work for a PERA-affiliated employer on or after July 1, 2013. PERA Members under both tiers of membership have a vesting period of 5 years of service credit. 

      When You Retire

      When you meet certain retirement eligibility requirements, you will receive a monthly benefit for the rest of your life. Your benefit is based on the amount of time you work during your PERA career and the average of your highest consecutive months of salary based off your tier of membership. The final average salary for Tier 1 members is based on the average of the member’s highest 36 consecutive months of salary and for Tier 2 members, final average salary is based on the average of the member’s highest 60 consecutive months of salary.  

      Changing Jobs

      Throughout your PERA career, you may accept other PERA-affiliated job opportunities and switch employers. When you transition to the other PERA-affiliated employer, you will continue to accrue service credit and contributions. There may be a difference in your contributions and pension factor based off the PERA plan each employer offers.

      If you leave for a new position that is not covered under PERA, you can leave your contributions on account, and you will be eligible to collect a deferred pension benefit when you meet certain retirement eligibility requirements or you can choose to take a refund or rollover of your member contributions.

      Additional PERA Benefits

      If you get hurt off or on the job, PERA offers a disability retirement option. You do have to meet certain requirements. View PERA’s Disability Retirement Kit for more information.

      You can save even more toward retirement by enrolling in PERA’s SmartSave Deferred Compensation Plan, which is a 457 (b) supplemental retirement plan. This plan is a voluntary savings plan that is intended to complement and supplement the core PERA defined benefit plan. You defer paying taxes and your investment earning in the plan are also tax deferred. 

  • Next Steps
    • Monitor Your PERA

      To monitor your PERA account, open an online RIO Self-Service account. In RIO, you can view your service credit, member contributions, beneficiary designations, and other important information. You can also calculate several types of estimates. 

      Protect Your Retirement

      An active PERA member, you can designate a refund and survivor beneficiary so upon your death these designees will receive either a lifetime benefit or refund of your member contributions. Ensure that you have the current and correct beneficiary information with PERA. It’s especially a good idea to review this information on an annual basis especially if you get married, divorced or have children. To update your beneficiary designations, please complete and submit a PERA Beneficiary Designation form.

      If you ever change your first or last name, mailing address, marital status, etc., you will have to complete and submit a Change In PERA Records form to notify PERA of these changes so we may update your information in our system. Your designated refund and/or survivor beneficiary will also have to submit these changes to PERA as well. PERA’s Records Division may request required documentation before making these changes (ex: updated driver’s license, divorce documentation, marriage certificate, etc.).

      Stay Informed

      Watch our videos in our Video Library, attend an Early Career PERA seminar, read our LaVoz newsletter and follow us on social media, and visit our website to review current news announcements, handbooks, kits, and forms. 

  • When to Contact PERA
    • If you have questions early on in your PERA career, you can contact PERA Toll-Free at 1 (800) 342-3422 or you can email PERA at PERA-MemberServices@state.nm.us

      You can submit any forms or documentation to PERA by email, fax, mail, upload to your RIO Self-Service account, or in-person. There are also secure drop off boxes located in front of our Santa Fe & Albuquerque Offices. 

  • Additional Resources