The CalPERS Special Power of Attorney - Why You Need It

As retirees, we are all faced with the possibility that we may at sometime become incapacitated and unable to conduct our affairs on our own. Some of us may already have in place a power of attorney document for health-care or other matters, but it may not be written in a way that covers decisions related to your CalPERS retirement account. The CalPERS special power of attorney is a document that ensures that someone you trust can make those decisions for you.

If you become incapacitated without a power of attorney in effect, a conservator can be appointed to handle your affairs; however, that process can be both costly and time consuming.

A CalPERS special power of attorney allows you to designate a representative or agent, known as your attorney-in-fact, to conduct your retirement affairs. Should you become unable to act on your own behalf, your designated attorney-in-fact will be able to perform important duties concerning your CalPERS business, such as:

  • Address changes
  • Federal or state tax withholding elections
  • Retirement benefit elections including designation of a new beneficiary should your current CalPERS beneficiary predecease you
  • Selection of a new health insurance option during open enrollment if necessary
  • Paperwork related to Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) full or partial reimbursement if applicable, etc.

The following helpful information is from the CalPERS publication "A Guide to the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney."

.... Powers of attorney are not all the same:

A durable power of attorney contains a “durability clause,” which is a provision permitting your designated attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf even if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your affairs.

A special or limited power of attorney grants only the powers that are specifically stated in the power of attorney document.

A contingent/springing power of attorney only goes into effect once certain conditions that you specify are met. This type of power of attorney is often designed to go into effect if you become disabled, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to handle your affairs.

A general (non-durable) power of attorney permits your attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf in all of your personal affairs. It automatically terminates when you become incapacitated unless it contains a durability clause.

A health care power of attorney permits your attorney-in-fact to make decisions about your health care if you are unable to do so. CalPERS cannot accept this type of power of attorney for retirement transactions. ....

.... A special power of attorney grants only the powers that are specifically stated in the power of attorney document. The CalPERS Special Power of Attorneyform only authorizes your attorney-in-fact to handle your CalPERS retirement affairs. It is specifically designed for retirement matters administered by CalPERS .....

..... Because of the broad power granted by the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney form, [it is] recommend[ed] that you consult an attorney before signing [the] form. .....

The Guide to the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney includes a detailed checklist for you to follow along with the forms that you will need to fill out and have witnessed or notarized to appoint your attorney-in-fact. Read it carefully and be sure to discuss your choices with your attorney before you complete the form(s).