The San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, which operates the pension fund for the county’s 36,000 active, retired and deferred members, recently received an AAA credit rating and stable outlook from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, the SDCERA said.

The rating, which is the highest available, reflects the fund’s capacity to pay its financial obligations, said Brian White, the association’s CEO.

“This rating serves to assure our members and the public that SDCERA continues to be fully capable of paying promised benefits,” White said.

For the most recent fiscal year ended June 30, the fund generated a return of 21 percent, adding about $1.6 billion to its total assets of $8.2 billion. In the prior fiscal year, the fund had a return of 13 percent. Its 25-year average return is 9.5 percent, the SDCERA said.

Besides the above average returns, S&P cited an 81.5 percent funded ratio and the continued strong credit quality of its sponsor, San Diego County, as its reasons for the best rating.

— Mike Allen