Q: May I work after I retire and still receive my state pension?
A: Yes, with a few limitations. First, if you work in the private sector, your pension is not affected. Second, if you return to the State in a permanent position, your pension stops immediately. Third, if you are employed by the state as a temporary employee and paid on a state payroll, you are limited to 75 working days in a calendar year. Any part of a day is considered a day worked. If you participated in the 2002 ERI, you are restricted from returning to work with the state on a contractual service basis. Retirees who didn't participate in the ERI may work contractually.
Q: If I retire and receive pension payments amounting to more than my contributions, will my spouse still be entitled to survivor benefits if I die?
A: Regardless of the pension payments made to you, your spouse will be entitled to a survivor benefit, assuming he/she is otherwise qualified.
Q: What is the Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act?
A: The Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act provides that if an employee has at least one year of pension credits established in more than one Retirement System covered under the Reciprocal Act will be considered together at the time of retirement or death of an employee. The purpose of the Act is to ensure full and continuous pension credit for service in public employment in the State of Illinois, and the transfer of employment from one governmental unit to another.
Q: I contributed to SERS and Social Security. When I retire, will my SERS benefit be reduced because of Social Security?
A: No, there is no SERS offset. However, if your pension is calculated using service not covered by Social Security, this service may affect your Social Security benefit. Contact the Social Security Administration for more information.
Q: What is the Level Income option?
A: The Level Income option allows an employee who is coordinated with Social Security to increase their SERS retirement benefit prior to becoming eligible for Social Security benefits. When the retiree qualifies for Social Security, their SERS benefit is reduced. This allows an individual to have a more constant income during their retirement years.
Q: Will my pension benefit cease after I have received payments equal to the contributions I made to SERS as an active employee?
A: No. Pension benefits are payable to a retired member for life, regardless of contributions.
Q: How soon should I request an application for a SERS pension?
A: Approximately 90 days prior to your retirement, you should contact your agency's Retirement Coordinator or SERS and request a pension application.
Q: When is my first pension check paid?
A: Benefits are paid as soon as we receive your final payroll information and forms from you and your agency. In general, it usually takes about six weeks after removal from the payroll to receive your first check.
Q: When will I receive my future pension checks?
A: Continuing pension payments are mailed on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. In this case, payments are mailed on the last business day before the 19th.
Q: What is the best time of the month to retire?
A: We recommend resigning from your agency in the second pay period of the month (from the l6th through the end of the month), preferably the last day of the month. The reason for this is your pension and group insurance begin with SERS on the first of the month following your resignation. If you resign too soon in the first pay period of a month, your insurance would be terminated, you would have a lapse in coverage (unless you pay a COBRA premium), and insurance benefits would not start until the first of the next month. If you resign in the second pay period of the month, you will not have a lapse in insurance coverage.
Q: Can I set up an appointment with a SERS representative to calculate my benefits?
A: An appointment is not necessary. You may come to our office Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and a representative will discuss your benefits with you. We recommend that you request a benefit estimate, and it will be mailed to you within 24 hours.
Q: Can my pension benefit be divided because of a divorce?
A: Yes, if a Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order has been issued by an Illinois Court. A QILDRO does not establish a new benefit, nor does it create a new member or beneficiary. Generally, the QILDRO orders the payment of a benefit to the ex-spouse as the alternate payee. It may also be payable to a child or other dependent as the alternate payee. The QILDRO does not apply to survivor annuities, or disability benefits. (To download information and forms for a QILDRO, click here.)