Bruce Rauner, Governor
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.
After GARS receives your pension application with the required information, we make every effort to process your first annuity payment within 30 days or less.
The first annuity payment is mailed from the Office of the Comptroller directly to your home. Attached to the check is a payment stub showing the payment amount, and all payments made in a calendar year.
A Notice of Pension Approval letter containing important information about your retirement annuity, and a tax brochure explaining the taxation of your annuity is mailed at approximately the same time your check is issued first.
Failure to advise GARS of an address change could result in a payment delay.
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 within this allotted time, contact our office.
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.
Illinois law exempts all General Assembly Retirement System benefits from state income tax, but federal tax is due. When you initially apply for benefits, GARS will send you IRS Form W-4P, “Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments” as part of your benefit application.
The W-4P lets you elect not to have taxes withheld, or to designate the amount of taxes withheld from your annuity. If the W-4P is not completed, we withhold taxes at the rate for a married individual claiming three exemptions.
The Office of the Comptroller is required to issue a 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 IRS Form 1040 when you file.
Any survivor contributions refund is subject to a 20% automatic federal income tax withholding, unless the refunded amount is rolled-over to another qualified plan.
The Office of the Comptroller is required to issue a 1099-R by January 31 of the year following your refund. This form shows the amount of the lump sum distribution, the portion that is taxable and any federal tax withheld.
If a retiree returns to employment in a position outside of state government, there is no reason to notify GARS since these earnings do not affect GARS benefits. However, should a retiree return to a position covered by the General Assembly Retirement System, the retiree should notify GARS immediately.
If you retired under the provisions of the Reciprocal Act and receive a pension from more than one Illinois public retirement system, you must notify all retirement systems involved.
If you are reemployed in a position covered by GARS, your GARS pension benefit is suspended. You will make contributions to GARS while you are employed, and will earn additional credited service for this period of employment. After returning to retirement, you must reapply for your pension.
If you reenter service in the General Assembly after you are retired, you may qualify to have your subsequent retirement benefit computed as though you had not retired. To do so, you must repay all benefits you received. The repayment can be made in a lump sum or by installment payments. It must be repaid within six years after your reentry, or before your next retirement date, whichever is first. If you do not complete the installment payments within the six-year period, your installment payments will be refunded and your pension is not recomputed.
You will receive a 3% cost of living increase on January 1 or July 1 (whichever is applicable) following your first full year of retirement or attainment of age 60, whichever is later.
Future increases of 3% of your current pension will also be made each January 1 or July 1 thereafter. Future increases are not limited by the 85% maximum.