General Assembly Retirment System

Bruce Rauner, Governor

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   Survivor/Death Benefits  

Survivor/Death Benefits

This information reflects the current laws governing GARS. Your specific benefits are based on the laws in effect on your last day of employment. In order to receive any benefit, you must apply for it. After you begin receiving benefits, you should notify GARS if you change your name or address. All GARS records are maintained according to your Social Security Number.

First Survivor, Annuity Payment

After GARS receives your survivor application along with the other required information, we process your first annuity payment within 45 days.

The first annuity payment is mailed by the Office of the Comptroller directly to your home. Attached to the annuity check is a payment stub showing the amount and all payments made in a calendar year.

A Notice of Benefit Approval letter containing important information about your annuity and a tax brochure explaining the taxation of your annuity is mailed at approximately the same time.

Future Survivor, Annuity Payments

Future annuity payments are mailed on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. In this case, they are mailed on the last working day before the 19th. If your payment is mailed directly to your home, allow up to 10 days. If you do not receive your payment in the allotted time, please contact our office.

Failure to advise GARS of an address change could result in a payment delay.

Direct Deposit (Electronic Funds Transfer)

When you apply for benefits with GARS, you will receive a Depository Agreement form, along with an explanation of this program. If you choose direct deposit, have the form completed by your financial institution and return it along with your application for benefits.

With this Depository Agreement, your first two payments are mailed to your home. All future payments are deposited into your bank account on the 19th of each month, but a payment stub is not generated for each payment.

The Office of the Comptroller only issues earning statements when the net amount of your benefit changes.

If you don’t choose direct deposit, all annuity payments are mailed to your home.

Taxation of Survivor Annuity Payments

Illinois law exempts all General Assembly Retirement System benefits from state income tax, but federal tax is due. As part of your application for benefits, GARS will request that you complete the Federal Income Tax Withholding for Benefit Payments.

You may elect not to have taxes withheld, or to designate the amount of taxes withheld from your annuity. If the withholding form is not completed, taxes are withheld at the rate for a married individual claiming three exemptions.

The Office of the Comptroller is also required to issue an IRS Form 1099-R by January 31 of each year. This form shows the annuity amount you received for the past year, the portion that is taxable, and any federal or state income tax withheld.

This form is used to prepare your income tax return, and should be attached to the IRS Form 1040 when you file.


A spouse remains eligible for survivor benefit for life.

Lump-Sum Death Benefits After Retirement

When an annuitant dies and no survivor annuity is payable, the nominated beneficiary on file with GARS will receive any lump-sum death benefit. This payment would consist of the contributions left in the annuitant's account, minus the total amount of pension payments received.

The Office of the Comptroller is required to issue a 1099-R to the beneficiary by January 31 of the year following the receipt of this payment.

The 1099-R will show the taxable portion of the lump sum, the portion attributable to capital gains and ordinary income, and any tax withheld. Refer to our Tax Information brochure if necessary.

Survivor/Death Benefits

First Payment
Future Payments
Direct Deposit
Taxation of Survivor Annuity Payments
Lump Sum Benefit After Retirement
Retiree & Survivor Handbook
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