Like every other employer-sponsored retirement plan, the money in your California Public Employees' Retirement System account is supposed to fund your golden years. Because you contribute a chunk of each paycheck to your CalPERS account, you can cash out the account once you meet the state's eligibility requirements.
Only former employees get CalPERS refunds. You can take a job in the private section, or go unemployed, but merely switching positions within the state won't work.
Ramifications of Refunds
While it may be tempting to take money in your name, that action does have its consequences. Once you walk away with a refund, CalPERS is done with you, permanently. In other words, the system kicks you out for good. That means you also give up its disability insurance if you can't work in the future.
You can get the monthly retirement benefit any time after you turn 50 if you were on the job at least five years. There are a few exceptions for new employees: If you started work in a covered position after Jan. 1 2013, you have to wait until you're 52.
Pension Value and Refunds
The state reports your contributions to the pension on your statements, but it doesn't include employer contributions. If you cash out, you'll leave the state's contributions behind. You'll also give up a hearty portion of your pension's value.