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403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is eligible?
  2. What is the CalSTRS 403bComply Plan?
  3. How is the CalSTRS 403bComply Administration Plan provided to participants?
  4. How does the Plan work?
  5. Who contributes?
  6. How do I enroll?
  7. What is the contribution amount?
  8. How are my Plan contributions invested?
  9. What are my investment option choices?
  10. How do I make changes to my elections?
  11. How do I keep track of my account?
  12. Are there fees to the participants in the plan?
  13. When can I withdraw money from my account?
  14. What are my distribution options?
  15. What happens if I leave employment?
  16. When am I required to withdraw my money?
  17. What happens to my money when I die?
  18. Are loans available under the Plan?
  19. How can I change my salary reduction?
  20. How can I stop my salary reduction?
  21. How can I move my funds to another company?
  22. How can I get more information?

1. Who is eligible?

Eligibility is determined by your District, so please contact CalSTRS 403bComply, your District Benefits Office, or go to your Summary Plan Description on this website to find out who is eligible under your District's Plan.

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2. What is the CalSTRS 403bComply Plan?

The 403(b) Plan and is a tax-deferred supplemental retirement plan sponsored by your District. CalSTRS has implemented 403(b) plan administrative services through a competitive proposal process. These services are available to any California public school district or other education agency through an interlocal agreement. The District's Plan is authorized by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 403(b) and is subject to specific Internal Revenue Service regulations and other requirements. The Plan allows employees to voluntarily contribute a portion of their compensation on a pre-tax basis. The amount invested plus earnings is not taxable until withdrawn from the Plan.

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3. How is the CalSTRS 403bComply Administration Plan provided to participants?

CalSTRS and your participating District contract with JEM Resource Partners (JEM) to provide administrative, and communication services to participants. CalSTRS is the main contact for participants. You can find out how to contact CALSTRS by choosing "Contact Us" from the menu.

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4. How does the Plan work?

You elect the amount you wish to defer from your gross salary each pay period. The amount you elect to defer is withheld from your paycheck each pay period before taxes.

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5. Who contributes?

You. Please contact CalSTRS 403bComply, your District Benefits Office, or go to your Summary Plan Description on this website to find out if your Employer contributes to a 403(b) plan in addition to your salary deferrals.

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6. How do I enroll?

You may join the Plan at any time by choosing 'Login' on the left-hand menu and clicking "New to the system? Enroll Now!". You will need your Social Security Number and the plan password provided on the Summary Plan Description for your district. The Summary Plan Description can be found on our website by choosing 'Plan Description' from the left-hand menu.

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7. What is the contribution amount?

You decide the amount that you want to contribute. Please keep in mind that there are limits imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. The maximum amount you can contribute during each calendar year is up to 100% of your includable compensation or the maximum listed in the table below, whichever is less.

Maximum Yearly Contribution

Year Maximum
2009 $16,500

Catch-up contributions in 403(b) plans operate under the following rules:

  • At age 50, you become automatically eligible to contribute an additional $5,500 per year.
  • If you are not 50 years of age or older, and have 15 years of service with your current employer, and have not contributed more than an average of $5,000 per year, you may be eligible to contribute an additional $3,000 per year, depending on your use of the age 50 catch-up. The lifetime limit for Catch-up contributions based on years of service is $15,000. Go to your Summary Plan Description on this website to find out if your Plan allows this catch-up
  • The lifetime limit for Catch-up contributions based on years of service is $15,000.
  • For your convenience, CalSTRS has provided a Maximum Allowable Contribution form, to aid you in calculating your Catch-Up contribution. It can be found by clicking 'Forms' from the left-side menu.

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8. How are my Plan contributions invested?

Your contribution will be remitted to the available investment providers based on the percentage allocation you choose.

Specific investment elections will need to be chosen through the investment providers. For more information about specific products you will need to contact your investment provider.

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9. What are my investment option choices?

Specific investment elections will need to be chosen through the investment providers. For more information about the investments available in a specific product you will need to contact your investment provider.

The California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) is authorized by the California Legislature to determine 403(b) vendors and products that are available to public school employees. You are not allowed to select a vendor or product not authorized by CalSTRS. Certain "grandfathering" applies. Go to the 403bCompare website for more information. A link can be found under "Resources" on available vendors.

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10. How do I make changes to my elections?

If you are changing your elections for the first time, you will need to enroll by choosing 'Login' on the left-hand menu and clicking "New to the system? Enroll Now!". You will need your Social Security Number and the plan password provided on the Summary Plan Description for your district. The Summary Plan Description can be found on our website by choosing 'Plan Description' from the menu. The elections you make during the enrollment process will take the place of your current elections.

If you have already enrolled on our system, you can make future changes online by clicking the 'Login' button on the menu and accessing your account.

The following transactions can be made online:

  • Contribution Amount
  • Investment Provider Allocation Percentages
By January 1, 2009 you will be able to initiate distributions or transfers online.

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11. How do I keep track of my account?

Investment providers who choose to cooperate fully with the information sharing requirements of the plan will have information available for you by logging in to your account.

Investment providers who do not fully cooperate with the information sharing agreements of the plan may display zero balances. You will need to contact those investment providers for more infomation.

All funds are ultimately invested at the investment providers and you may still need to contact them for certain information.

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12. Are there fees to the participants in the Plan?

CalSTRS is the Administrator and handles the ongoing administration of the Plan for monthly fees equal to $2.00 per month. Go to your Summary Plan Description on this website to find out how this fee is paid in your Plan.

You will need to contact your investment provider to determine their fees. Fees for allowable vendors and products are also displayed on the CalSTRS website.

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13. When can I withdraw money from my account?

  • Attainment of age 59½
  • Death
  • Disability
  • Termination of Employment
  • Hardship (if allowed by your plan, see your Plan Description)

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14. What are my distribution options?

  • Receive a lump sum distribution (subject to ordinary income tax)
  • Rollover your account balance to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or other tax qualified vehicle
  • Transfer your account to another Plan (if allowed by your plan)
  • Some vendors and products allow payments in the form of a monthly annuity or periodic payments

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15. What happens if I leave employment?

The Internal Revenue Code allows distribution of funds upon termination of service with the participating employer under the options listed above.

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16. When am I required to withdraw my money?

The later of when you retire or reach age 70½.

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17. What happens to my money when I die?

Your designated beneficiary(ies) will receive the full value of your account. Your beneficiary(ies) must contact CalSTRS to apply for a distribution.

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18. Are loans available under the Plan?

See your Plan Description, available from the left-side menu, to find out if loans are allowed in your plan. Keep in mind that your investment provider may not allow loans, although your plan permits them.

For further information on loans, please contact CalSTRS at 888-892-7494.

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19. How can I change my salary reduction?

You can change your salary reduction at any time online by logging on to your account.

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20. How can I stop my salary reduction?

You can stop your salary deferrals at any time online by logging on to your account.

You may begin contributing again to the Plan at any time online by logging on to your account

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21. How can I move my funds to another company?

If the company is an active vendor in the Plan, depending on vendor rules and restrictions, you may be able to "exchange" your funds into a different annuity or investment account with another vendor.

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22. How can I get more information?

To get more information about the Plan or enrolling in the Plan, please contact CalSTRS at 888-892-7494, or visit the other areas of this website.

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