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Series established July 28, 1992
This series specification describes three classifications used by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) to perform a variety of complex, technical work related to providing retirement and health benefits and services. Positions in these classes learn and apply the Public Employees' Retirement Law (PERL), the Judges' Retirement Law (JRL), the Legislators' Retirement Law (LRL), the Public Employees' Medical and Hospital Care Act (PEMHCA), State Employees' Dental Care Act, other laws, regulations, and departmental policies and procedures in the administration of retirement and health benefits for active and retired employees of the State, University of California, California State colleges, public agencies, cities, counties, and school districts, as well as legislators, judges, and volunteer firefighters.
Incumbents in this series provide a variety of services to CalPERS customers, including active and retired members, beneficiaries, and employers. Incumbents perform specialized tasks such as determining eligibility and calculating benefit allowances for retirement, disability retirement, refund of contributions, estimates of retirement benefits, community property settlement judgments, and preretirement death benefits.
Incumbents provide information and respond to inquiries and requests for service from CalPERS customers by telephone, correspondence, electronic mail, or in person; interpret laws, regulations, policies, and procedures; explain benefit programs and options to members, beneficiaries, and representatives of public agencies; determine eligibility for health benefits coverage for State, public agency active and retired members, process enrollments, and resolve issues relating to health benefits; and gather information, conduct research, and provide technical training to other staff or assistance to higher-level staff.
Incumbents process benefit payments for retired members and beneficiaries; maintain benefit payrolls; and process transactions for adjustments, requests for electronic fund transfer, replacement of lost or stolen warrants, and payroll deductions for health and dental benefits.
Incumbents in offices located throughout the State may assist professional staff in the preparation of training provided for employers and members on a variety of retirement and health benefits topics. Incumbents set up member files, maintain member records and accounts, review member records and requests to initiate corrections, adjustments, or update of information which is maintained in various departmental data systems. Incumbents operate personal computers or terminals utilizing various systems, databases, and software applications in the performance of duties.
Variety, complexity, and difficulty of work; supervision received; supervisory responsibilities; type and frequency of contacts with other staff within the Department, as well as with other State agencies, public agencies, members, and the public; the degree of independence and judgment required in making determinations; and the consequence of errors serve as the major differentiating factors between classes. Additional considerations which enter into determinations of borderline allocations include the experience and knowledge necessary to perform the work.
BENEFIT PROGRAM SPECIALIST (CalPERS)
This is the entry, first working, and full journey level for the series. Initially, under close supervision, incumbents receive training and learn benefit programs, complete simple benefit calculations, and provide assistance to higher-level specialists. Incumbents continue to learn and perform a variety of technical duties involving the explanation and interpretation of regulations, policies, and benefits to members. Incumbents may complete the less complex benefit calculations, provide technical information to members concerning membership qualifications and benefits, provide technical information to employers, review technical documents for accuracy and completeness, and provide technical assistance to higher-level staff.
As skills are developed, incumbents perform more difficult and complex tasks associated with retirement calculations, interviewing members, and explaining and interpreting regulations, policies, and benefits. Incumbents are also responsible for expediting cases requiring special actions for timely payment of benefits; advising employers on membership qualifications and reports of contributions; preparing reports, correspondence, charts, and graphs; providing training to less experienced staff; contacting staff at various levels in other State and local public agencies, school officials, and members by telephone, personal contact, electronic media, or correspondence. Incumbents receive general supervision and the consequence of errors is significant.
SENIOR BENEFIT PROGRAM SPECIALIST (CalPERS)
This is the advanced journey level. Incumbents independently perform the most difficult and complex tasks described for all levels. In addition, incumbents assist in performing studies and completing investigations concerning various aspects of retirement system operations and proposed legislation; provide technical direction, guidance, and training to other specialist employees; and provide assistance with technology systems and applications used in the performance of work. Incumbents receive only general direction and exhibit a high level of initiative, responsibility, and independence of action for the accuracy and thoroughness of their work. Review of incumbents' work is minimal. This level may have lead responsibility over less experienced employees, in areas such as training and answering questions on work procedures.
SUPERVISING BENEFIT PROGRAM SPECIALIST (CalPERS)
This is the supervisory level in the series. Incumbents plan, organize, and direct the work of subordinate staff engaged in various retirement and health benefit services. Incumbents perform the full range of supervisory duties including interviewing and selecting staff; evaluating training needs and performance; assigning work; representing the unit supervised in management staff meetings; collecting, compiling, and summarizing data in report form regarding activities in the unit supervised; assisting in the development of workload projections and budgetary resources; reviewing, evaluating, and recommending operating procedures to reflect changes resulting from legislation or other factors; and participating as a member of a task force or work group evaluating business operations or procedures.
Experience applicable to one of the following patterns may be combined on a proportional basis with experience applicable to other patterns to meet the total experience requirements.
Experience: In the California state service, 12 months of experience in a class at a level of responsibility not less than that of an Office Assistant (Range A).
Experience: Nine months of experience as a seasonal clerk or equivalent working for the California Public Employees' Retirement System in a retirement, member services, health benefits, or field services setting. and
Education: Either equivalent to completion of the 12th grade or completion of a business school curriculum; or completion of a structured work experience training program. (One year of general clerical/office work experience may be substituted for the required education.)
Experience: One year of experience which must include responsibility for client-customer service contact involving the interpretation or explanation of policies, regulations, or procedures, and/or resolving or adjusting customer accounts. This experience may have been gained in a governmental or private sector setting, for example, in an insurance office, financial institution, customer service center, or title company. (Academic education above the 12th grade may be substituted for one year of the required general experience on the basis of one year of general education being equivalent to six months of experience.)
Experience: In the California state service, one year of experience performing the duties of a Benefit Program Specialist (CalPERS), Range C.
Experience: Three years of experience in a governmental or private sector setting including responsibility for client/customer service contact involving the interpretation or explanation of complex regulations or procedures; making account adjustments or resolving account discrepancies; and using a computer to access information or enter data. [Experience in the California state service applied toward this requirement must include at least one year in a class with a level of responsibility not less than that of a Benefit Program Specialist (CalPERS), Range C. Academic education above the 12th grade may be substituted for two years of the required experience on the basis of one year of general education being equivalent to six months of experience.]
Experience: In the California state service, either (a) one year of experience performing the duties of a Senior Benefit Program Specialist (CalPERS); or (b) two years of experience performing the duties of a Benefit Program Specialist (CalPERS), Range C.
Experience: Four years of experience in a governmental or private sector setting performing supervisory duties involving customer/public contact, the interpretation or explanation of technical or regulatory information, resolving problems or account discrepancies, and/or utilization of computer information systems. [Experience in the California state service applied toward this requirement must include at least one year in a class with a level of responsibility not less than that of a Senior Benefit Program Specialist (CalPERS). Academic education above the 12th grade may be substituted for two years of the required experience on the basis of one year of general education being equivalent to six months of experience.]
Knowledge of: Rules, regulations, organization, and procedures of CalPERS; current office methods, technologies, and equipment; knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punctuation of modern English usage; the principles of mathematics.
Ability to: Perform technical and administrative work; interpret, apply, and explain provisions of governmental rules, regulations, and departmental procedures and policies; follow and give directions; evaluate situations quickly and accurately and take effective action; perform mathematical calculations with speed and accuracy; learn to utilize personal computer/microcomputer systems and software applications in the performance of work; accurately and quickly enter data into a computerized database; read and write English at a level required for successful job performance; use tact and good judgment in communicating with the public in person, over the telephone, or in correspondence or electronic mail.
Knowledge of: All of the above.
Ability to: All of the above, and accept increasing responsibility for difficult and complex work and for accuracy and thoroughness in the performance of tasks; work independently with minimal direction; apply appropriate sections of the laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures administered by CalPERS to specific situations; serve in a lead capacity in advising and training less experienced and knowledgeable staff.
Knowledge of: All of the above, and the Department's purposes, organization, activities, and automated systems; the Affirmative Action Program; a supervisor's role in planning, organizing, and directing the work of subordinate staff; the principles and practices of budgeting and personnel management.
Ability to: All of the above, and independently apply appropriate sections of the laws, rules, regulations, departmental policies, and procedures to specific situations; write clear and comprehensive reports, and communicate effectively and tactfully with internal and external contacts at all levels; analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action; train new employees and effectively supervise subordinate staff; contribute effectively to the Department's affirmative action objectives.
Demonstrated capacity for good work habits such as punctuality, nearness, and dependability; willingness to do routine or detailed work in order to learn the practical application of laws, regulations, and policies; the ability to make successful progress in a prescribed training program; willingness and ability to accept increasing responsibility; and a customer service orientation.