Jeff Chang


Tel: (916) 329-3685


At a Glance

Jeff has practiced employee benefits law for over 40 years.

More than 150 public agencies rely on Jeff for his guidance on benefits and retirement plans.

Jeff’s blog, Focus On Public Benefits, provides California public agencies with practical and accessible employee benefits advice.


With over four decades of experience, Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Jeff Chang helps employers and plan fiduciaries make the most of their employee benefit plans. A member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation practice group, Jeff represents government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, tax-exempt, non-ERISA and church clients. One of the most experienced employee benefits attorneys in California, he works closely with his clients to understand their organizations, their benefits strategies and whether their current plans and vendors are well-suited to their objectives.
More than 150 public agencies work with Jeff to analyze their opportunities and obligations under CalPERS, the California Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, the County Employees Retirement Law and their 457(b) and 401(a) plans. Because California’s local agency plans are not subject to ERISA, Jeff spends much of his time explaining the special rules that apply to “governmental” retirement plans. Jeff regularly shares his insights on California public sector benefits in his blog. Jeff has published the blog, Focus on Public Benefits, for approximately 10 years.
Previously a shareholder at Chang Ruthenberg & Long, which he founded in 1989, Jeff’s roots in the legal and academic communities run deep. He has taught qualified retirement plans and deferred compensation courses in the Masters of Taxation program at McGeorge School of Law and is a charter fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, which has recognized Jeff for his significant contributions to the employee benefits field. He has been regularly included on the Best Lawyers in America and Northern California Super Lawyers lists for his contributions and successes in the field.
Jeff served as chairman of the IRS subcommittee of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries Administration Relations Committee, as co-chair of the ASPPA Government Affairs Committee and on its board of directors. He previously served on the Executive Committee of the California State Bar Taxation Section and is the founder of the Section’s Employee Benefits Committee.

Jeff provides counsel on the following:

  • Governmental Retirement Plans - CalPERS, ’37 Act, county plan, PEPRA, 457, 401(a), pick-ups, 414(h), cost-sharing, deferred compensation, 415(m), defined benefit pension and defined contribution
  • Governmental Welfare Plans - OPEB, retiree health, vacation, PTO, PEMHCA, HRA, RHRA, 125, cafeteria and post-employment benefits 
  • Taxation - constructive receipt, assignment of income, hardship distribution, SECURE Act, CARES Act, Social Security, replacement plan, employment status, worker classification and independent contractor
  • Plan Administration - administrative service agreements, recordkeeping agreements, group annuity, stable value fund, California fiduciary rules, participant-directed investment, plan administrator, 3(38), investment advisor, Brown Act and administrative committee 
  • General: California Rule, vested rights and trust agreements
  • Private Sector Plans: 401(k), 401(a), defined benefit pension, defined contribution, cash balance, 403(b), top hat, executive deferred compensation, tax deferred annuity, multiemployer pension, multiple employer plan, plan correction, EPCRS, VCP, DFVCP and VFCP 
  • Church Plans: lay employees plans, priest pension plans, nonqualified plans, 401(a), money purchase pension, defined benefit pension and defined contribution


  • University of California, Davis School of Law, J.D.
  • University of California, Berkeley, B.A.


  • California


  • California Lawyers Association Public Law, Labor and Employment and Taxation sections


  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 1995-2017, 2019-2021
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, Employee Benefits, 2004, 2006-2021
  • Sacramento Magazine Top Lawyers, Employee Benefits Law, 2017-2018
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent™ Rated
  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Charter fellow
Authored Articles & Publications Apr 08, 2020

PublicCEO: CARES Act Establishes Rules for Coronavirus-Related Distributions from 457(b) Plans

Public Employers Can Amend Plans to Allow Coronavirus-Related Distributions

Authored Articles & Publications May 29, 2019

Best in Law: Employee Benefits in a Company Sale

BB&K’s Jeff Chang Writes About this Critical Part of a Company’s Transition in SCNG

Authored Articles & Publications Jul 11, 2018

The Anticipated Demise of the Vested-Rights Doctrine

Cases Before State’s High Court Could Mean Big Changes for Retirement Benefits Writes Jeffrey Chang in PublicCEO

Contact Jeff Chang

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