Retirement Counseling Appointments
In a counseling appointment, you will receive benefit estimates based on information you provided. In addition, information will be provided on any eligible purchases, reciprocal service, the retirement application process, death and survivor benefits, insurance benefits and post-retirement employment restrictions. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
Determine Your Eligibility for a Counseling Appointment
Counseling appointments are typically held in the SURS offices in Champaign and Naperville or by phone; however, SURS also periodically visits individual campuses.
If you wish to meet with a SURS retirement counselor, you must be within four years of retirement eligibility; therefore, you must meet at least one of the following minimum requirements (depending on Tier) within four years.
Note: If you participated in one of the Illinois reciprocal systems and plan to retire under the Reciprocal Act, the reciprocal service may be applied to meet the minimum qualification requirements.
Participant prior to 01/01/11
Participant on or after 01/01/11
Traditional, Portable, & RSP
Traditional & Portable
5 years at age 62
10 years at age 67
5 years at age 62
8 years at age 55
10 years at age 62
8 years at age 55
30 years at any age
30 years at any age
You are limited to one appointment (counseling session via phone or in-person with a SURS counselor) or a written estimate every 12 months. While eligible employees are allowed to meet with a counselor every 12 months, it is not necessary to schedule an appointment every 12 months unless the previous estimate information has changed significantly.
Schedule a Retirement Counseling Appointment
Traditional and Portable Plan Members
Traditional and Portable Plan members must complete and submit a Retirement Estimate Request form prior to scheduling an appointment. Follow these steps:
- Visit www.surs.org and click on the Member Login button on the top right-hand side of the homepage to gain access to your member webpage. The retirement estimate request form is listed in the menu on the left as Retirement Counseling. Once this form is completed and submitted electronically, you will be prompted to follow a link to schedule an appointment at SURS office, a phone appointment or an on-campus appointment (if applicable). Or,
- Call SURS at 800-275-7877 to request a form. SURS will send a retirement estimate request form via U.S. Mail to your home address or fax. Once the completed form is returned, SURS will immediately notify you via U.S. Mail or electronic notification on your member webpage that you can contact SURS to schedule an appointment.
- IMPORTANT – When completing the retirement estimate request form, you will be asked to provide information that SURS does not have access to. Therefore, please collect the following information prior to logging in to complete the electronic form (or completing the paper version):
- Anticipated retirement dates (you can choose two dates, not further than four years out)
- If you are academic: length of base contract
- Salary: if academic, base salary plus summer or overloads, if applicable
- Salary: if staff, salary plus expected overtime
- Percentage of anticipated salary increases
- Sick leave balances (unused/unpaid sick leave earned prior to 1-1-84 or after 1-1-98)
- Vacation balance
- Information on other service such as eligible purchases or reciprocal service
The accuracy of retirement annuity estimates depends on the accuracy of the information you provide to SURS.
- Once a counseling appointment has been scheduled, you should receive an email confirmation. If you do not receive an email confirmation that day, please contact SURS to confirm that the appointment was scheduled correctly. The confirmation email includes a link to the scheduling site. If is it necessary to cancel or reschedule, this link can be used up until 48 hours prior to the appointment. If you need to cancel or reschedule within 48 hours prior to the appointment, you will need to contact SURS at 800-275-7877.
Retirement Savings Plan Members
Retirement Savings Plan members who are within four years of meeting eligibility requirements can schedule an appointment online through the member website at www.surs.org, or by calling 800-275-7877.
Once a counseling appointment has been scheduled, you should receive an email confirmation. If you do not receive an email confirmation that day, please contact SURS to confirm that the appointment was scheduled correctly. The confirmation email includes a link to the scheduling site. If is it necessary to cancel or reschedule, this link can be used up until 48 hours prior to the appointment. If you need to cancel or reschedule within 48 hours prior to the appointment, you will need to contact SURS at 800-275-7877.
Read the Following Important Information
A retirement counseling appointment in no way commits you to retire on a specific date – it is merely a projection to help you make a determination for a future retirement date. An application for retirement must be submitted to SURS to initiate a retirement claim.
The accuracy of retirement annuity estimates depends on the information provided to SURS. The actual retirement annuity may vary from the estimates provided. Final benefit determination is pursuant to verified data and to the provisions of Chapter 40, Articles 1, 15, and 20 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. An estimate request is not an application for retirement.
Everything discussed in the session is held in the strictest confidence and is not shared with your employer. These appointments are set on a very tight half-hour schedule. To maintain this schedule, SURS requests you be on time for the 30-minute appointment. You are welcome to bring a guest, if desired.
If the appointment must be cancelled, please contact SURS toll free at 800-275-7877 or dial direct at 217-378-8800 as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What information will I get during a counseling appointment?
Your counselor will discuss many things during your counseling appointment including but not limited to the following:
- Review current account information
- Estimated benefit amounts
- Insurance, if applicable
- Purchases, if applicable
- Death and survivor benefits payable upon your death
- Application process
- What to expect after retirement such as taxes, automatic annual increases, and return-to-work limitations
When would I be eligible for a counseling appointment?
You must meet all eligibility requirements for retirement within four years of the current date.
How often can I have a counseling appointment?
You are allowed one appointment, or written estimate, every 12 months, as long as you meet the requirements to be eligible for an appointment.
What types of appointments are offered?
SURS offers three types of appointments:
- Office appointments at our Champaign or Naperville offices,
- Phone appointments, or
- Campus appointments, upon your employer’s request
How do I request a retirement counseling appointment?
If you qualify for an appointment, you may request an appointment one of two ways:
- Complete the online estimate request form from the SURS Member homepage under “Retirement Counseling”, or
- Call SURS at 800.275.7877 and request the form be mailed to you
- Once you complete and submit the form to SURS either online from the SURS Member homepage, by fax, or mail, you may then call SURS to schedule the appointment.
What information do I need in order to complete my request for a counseling appointment?
The retirement estimate request form provides information to the retirement counselor to accurately project your anticipated retirement benefits. The estimates prepared for you will only be as good as the information you provide. You will be asked to provide SURS such information as anticipated retirement dates, current salary, future increases, sick leave, vacation, etc.
Why does SURS need my salary, sick leave and vacation?Don’t you already have that information?In order to accurately calculate your anticipated retirement benefits SURS will need to know your projected salary, unused/unpaid sick leave, and unused vacation These benefits are provided by your employer and SURS does not have access to this information.SURS does receive verification from your employer on your sick leave and vacation balances after you terminate your employment. If you are unsure of your current salary rate, unused/unpaid sick leave balance, or vacation balance, please contact your benefits office.
Does SURS have access to NESSIE?
SURS does not have access to NESSIE or any other employer’s personnel records. Please contact your employer’s benefits office if you have questions about your employee benefits.
How many estimates and dates can I request?
Each member is allowed to request two retirement dates, or estimates. These dates must be within four years of the current date.
How long is a counseling appointment?
All counseling appointments are scheduled for 30 minutes.
How do I know if a counselor will be visiting my campus?
You may call SURS at 800.275.7877 to see if your employer has scheduled retirement counselors to visit your campus, or contact your Human Resource Department.
Can I request an estimate without having a counseling appointment?
If you do not want a counseling appointment you may request that SURS send you a written estimate. Written estimates, like counseling appointments, are limited to one request per 12 months.
What do I need to bring with me for my counseling appointment?
You are not required to bring anything with you to the appointment; however, SURS suggests the following:
- Pen and paper to make notes
- A list of any specific questions you want to ask the counselor
- Verifications – birth, marriage, etc.
May I bring someone with me to my counseling appointment?
Yes, SURS recognizes that planning for retirement can be overwhelming and your benefit not only affects you, but also your family. For these reasons, many members prefer to bring their spouse and/or financial planner to the SURS retirement counseling appointment.
If I have a phone appointment, when will I receive my estimates?
Estimates prepared for a phone appointment will be available on your member homepage at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment. SURS will also mail a copy to your home address after your scheduled appointment. If you have reciprocal estimates, they will not be available online, but mailed to your home address following your scheduled appointment.
How far in advance should I request an appointment?
SURS normally schedules appointments 1-2 months in advance. In addition, we also recommend you submit your retirement application at least 60 days prior to your retirement date. Therefore, if you would like to have an appointment before you submit your retirement application we encourage you to contact SURS 4-6 months before you retire.
Can I still have a counseling appointment if I am retiring within the next couple of months?
If your retirement date is within 60 days and you have not already had an appointment within the last 12 months, SURS will try to fit you in within the next week or two. Please call SURS at 800.275.7877.
Can I have a Counseling Appointment if I am no longer contributing to SURS?
If you have terminated your employment and are no longer contributing to SURS you are allowed to have one counseling appointment every 12 months as long as you are eligible to begin your retirement within the next four years. You will not need to complete a request to schedule this appointment. Simply call SURS at 800.275-7877 to request an appointment.
Are there certain dates that are better for retirement?
There may or may not be specific dates that will be better than others for the retirement benefit. It will depend on many things including eligibility, formula calculations, age, contract dates, etc. SURS does not pay partial months of benefits, so we normally will prepare your estimates for the first of a month. Please contact SURS at 800.275.7877 for more information specific to your account.