Retirement – Traditional and Portable Plans

Steps

  • Apply for Retirement
  • Receive Preliminary Estimated Payment (PEP)
  • Information Gathering
  • Claim Finalized

 

Apply For Retirement

Members must complete the required paperwork to apply for retirement, including a Retirement Application, W4P, and insurance paperwork (if applicable).  SURS would like to receive your application at least 60 days prior to the effective date of retirement so we can begin processing your claim.

To obtain the required SURS paperwork:

  • Dial Toll Free:  800-275-7877
  • Dial Direct:  217-378-8800

Online:

  • Forms
  • The following additional documents are also needed, if not already on file with SURS:
    • Birth verification for member and any eligible survivors:

If a survivor’s birth certificate and marriage certificate are not on file, SURS cannot pay a survivor benefit. For proof of you or your survivor’s birth date, SURS will accept a photocopy of one of the following documents:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Grade School or High School Records
  • Military Discharge Papers
  • Social Security Verification Letter

If you are married, please submit a copy of your marriage certificate.

If you are divorced or your spouse is deceased, SURS may require a copy of your divorce decree or a copy of your spouse’s death certificate.  SURS will contact you if this documentation is required.

If you have established at least one year of service credit with any of the other 12 reciprocal systems, you must contact those systems to request an application for their portion of the benefit.  You will receive a benefit payment from each system with which you have established service credit.

 A listing of all Reciprocal Systems and their contact information is available here.

Receive Preliminary Estimated Payment (PEP)

SURS attempts to provide the best possible service to its members by processing benefits in a timely manner.  To achieve this goal, SURS will send you a PEP beginning on the date your retirement annuity begins or within 30-60 days of receipt of your application, whichever is later, provided your birth date and Medicare eligibility (if applicable) has been verified by SURS.  This PEP is a portion of what your actual benefit will be.  The PEP is not the same amount as the estimate you may have had calculated by a Member Service Representative and will not include the following:

  • Current year earnings and/or vacation payments
  • Reciprocal credits
  • Additional credit for unused/unpaid sick leave
  • Additional service credit purchased after your Application for Retirement Annuity is received
Information Gathering

To finalize your retirement claim, SURS will need to gather information from your SURS-covered employer(s) and any applicable reciprocal systems.  In addition, SURS may request additional information from you.

Information from employer:

SURS requests information from your employer that is required to finalize your claim. A request may be made for any, or all, of the following:

  • Termination Report
  • Basic Compensation or Academic Contract Information
  • Part-time Service Verification

Information from you:

In some cases, SURS may require additional information from you or require that you complete additional paperwork.   A request may be made for any of the following (if applicable):

  • Copy of your eligible survivor’s birth verification
  • Copy of your marriage certificate
  • Copy of your divorce decree or your spouse’s death certificate
  • Medical documentation for disabled child
  • Application for Refund of Survivor Contributions
  • Application for Waiver of Excess Contributions/Service

Information from Reciprocal System(s):

If you are retiring from SURS and another retirement system in Illinois under the provisions of the Reciprocal Act, an exchange of information is needed in order to calculate the retirement benefit.

Claim Finalized

Normal processing time is 6 months or longer.

Delays in finalizing retirement claims:  There are many reasons why a claim may not be finalized within the average processing time.  The following are the most common:

  • Receipt of employer information:   The response time of your former employer affects the processing time required to finalize your claim.  If the information reported by your employer is inconsistent with the information SURS has on file, SURS will contact the employer for clarification.
  • Response from you:  If SURS requests additional information or paperwork from you, it must be submitted before your retirement can be finalized.
  • Reciprocal Certifications:  If you elect to retire under the provisions of the Reciprocal Act, the claim generally takes longer because SURS is required to receive a reciprocal certification from the other system(s).
Other Important Information

Tier I

Members First Employed Prior to
January 1, 2011

(vesting requirements also apply to all RSP)

Tier II

Members First Employed On or After
January 1, 2011

(does not apply to RSP)

Minimum Vesting

5 years of service

10 years of service

Normal Retirement Age (without age reduction)

Age 62, with at least 5 years of service
Age 60, with at least 8 years of service
At any age with at least 30 years of service*

*if termination is on or after 08/02/2002

Age 67, with at least 10 years of service

Earliest Retirement Age
(with age reduction)

Age 55, with at least 8 years of service

Age 62, with at least 10 years of service

Final Average Earnings (FAE)

  • Average earnings during 4 high consecutive academic years; or
  • The average of the last 48 months prior to termination (if applicable)
  • Average earnings during 8 high consecutive academic years of last 10 years; or
  • The average of the highest 96 months of the final 120 months (if applicable)

FAE Limits

Limited to 20% year over year increases in earnings for years in the FAE period

  • The same 20% annual increase limit; and
  • Average is limited based on Maximum Pensionable Earnings amounts

General Formula

Flat Rate of 2.2% x service credit x FAE
OR
If termination is prior to 07/07/1997, Graduated Formula % x FAE:
Years 1-10 x 1.67%
Years 10-20 x 1.90%
Years 20-30 x 2.10%
Years 30 or more x 2.30%

2.2% x service credit x FAE

Money Purchase Calculation
(if certification date is prior to 7/1/2005)

Employee Normal Contributions and Interest at Comptroller Rate plus applicable Employer match divided by actuarially determined age factor

N/A

Police/Fire Formula

(must meet eligibility requirements)

Police/Fire % x FAE:
Years 1-10 x 2.25%
Years 10-20 x 2.50%
Years 20 or more x 2.75%

Police/Fire % x FAE:
Years 1-10 x 2.25%
Years 10-20 x 2.50%
Years 20 or more x 2.75%

Minimum Annuity
(must be employed at 50% time or greater)

Annual FAE
Minimum
Monthly Annuity
$3,500 or less
$8
$3,500-$4,499
$9
$4,500-$5,499
$10
$5,500-$6,499
$11
$6,500-$7,499
$12
$7,500-$8,499
$13
$8,500-$9,499
$14
$9,500 or more
$15
Annual FAE
Minimum
Monthly Annuity
$3,500 or less
$8
$3,500-$4,499
$9
$4,500-$5,499
$10
$5,500-$6,499
$11
$6,500-$7,499
$12
$7,500-$8,499
$13
$8,500-$9,499
$14
$9,500 or more
$15

Supplemental Minimum
(paid if higher than other applicable benefit calculations)

$25 x years of adjusted service (up to 30 years)

$25 x years of service (up to 30 years)

Age Reduction

1/2 of 1% for each month under age 60

1/2 of 1% for each month under age 67

Maximum Benefit

Varies based on termination date – typically 75%-80% of FAE

80% of FAE

Retirement Benefit AAI (Automatic Annual Increase)

3%, compounded annually

The lesser of 3% or one-half of the increase in the consumer price index, non-compounded

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. When am I eligible to retire?

    If participation first began prior to January 1, 2011 (Tier I):

    • Age 55 with 8 or more years of service, with applicable age reduction
    • Age 62 with 5 or more years of service
    • Any age with 30 or more years of service*

    *Not applicable if employment termination prior to August 2, 2002

    If participation first began on or after January 1, 2011 (Tier II):

    • At age 62 with 10 or more years of service, with applicable age reduction
    • At age 67 with 10 or more years of service
  2. When should I file my application for retirement?

    SURS would like to receive your application 60 days prior to your effective date of retirement.

  3. What happens if I file my retirement application late?

    Your effective date will remain the same, however; your first payment may be delayed. You may only backdate your application up to 1 year, if applicable.

  4. What documents should I submit with my retirement application?

    SURS will need a photocopy of your birth certificate if you have not already submitted one. In addition, if you are married, SURS will need a photocopy of your spouse´s birth certificate and your marriage certificate.

  5. When are my benefits paid?

    SURS monthly retirement benefits are paid the first of each month.

  6. Does SURS pay partial month retirement annuities?

    No. While your retirement can be effective any day of the month, retirement payments are not prorated for the month in which you retire. Example: You select September 15th as your retirement date. Your first payment from SURS will be on October 1st and will be for the month of October.

  7. What is a Preliminary Estimated Payment (PEP)?

    SURS attempts to provide the best possible service to its members by processing benefits in a timely manner.  To achieve this goal, SURS will send you a PEP beginning on the date your retirement annuity begins or within 30-60 days of receipt of your application, whichever is later, provided your birth date and Medicare eligibility (if applicable) has been verified by SURS.  This PEP is a portion of what your actual benefit will be. The PEP is not the same amount as the estimate you may have had calculated by a Member Service Representative and will not include the following:

    • Current year earnings and/or vacation payments
    • Reciprocal credits
    • Additional credit for unused/unpaid sick leave
    • Additional service credit purchased after your Application for Retirement Annuity is received
  8. At the time of my retirement, if I am entitled to payment for my vacation time or unused sick leave, who is responsible for this payment?

    Your employer is responsible for payment of vacation and/or sick leave that you may be entitled to. Any questions regarding this should be directed to your employer.

  9. How does my unused/unpaid sick leave affect my retirement?

    If you retire within 60 days after you terminate your employment covered by SURS or one of the other systems subject to the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act, your unused/unpaid sick leave will be converted to additional service credit, up to a maximum of 1.0 year.

  10. How does part-time employment affect my retirement?

    The percentage of service will not affect your accumulation of service credit for qualification of benefits or vesting. However, when your benefit is calculated, if you have more than three years at 50% time or less, your service credit and benefits may be reduced.

  11. What is a reciprocal retirement?

    There are 13 public retirement systems in Illinois covered under the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act. If you have at least one year of pension credit in more than one of the retirement systems and your combined service credits are equal to the longest minimum service requirements of any of the systems in which you have credit, you may be eligible to apply for a benefit under the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act. For further information on retiring under this Act, please refer to the reciprocal brochure.

  12. What are the reciprocal systems covered under the reciprocal act?

    Please consult the current list of reciprocal systems.

  13. If I retire reciprocally, do I need to complete a retirement application with each system?

    Yes, you should complete and submit an application for each reciprocal system.

  14. What is the normal timeframe for completion of a retirement claim?

    Normal processing time is 6 months or longer.

  15. How can I check the status of my retirement claim?

    Retirement Claims are finalized on a first in, first out basis. To view the status of your claim, visit the SURS Member Website at www.surs.org.

  16. What are the formulas SURS uses when calculating a retirement benefit under the Traditional or Portable plan?

    There are three primary calculations used when member retires under the Traditional or Portable plan:

    1. General Formula
    2. Money Purchase Formula (not available to participants hired on or after July 1, 2005)
    3. Minimum Annuity

    In addition, there is a special formula calculation for Police/Firefighters and a Supplemental Minimum Annuity Guarantee.For further information on the formula calculations, please refer to the Traditional or Portable member guide.

  17. What does the term “final average earnings” mean as it is used in the retirement calculation?

    The final average earnings is used under some formulas to determine a member’s retirement annuity and maximum annuity payable.

    If participation first began prior to January 1, 2011:
    The final average earnings is determined by comparing: (a) the average of the four highest paid consecutive academic years of employment, and (b) the average of the last 48 months of employment (if applicable), using whichever is higher.

    If participation first began on or after January 1, 2011:
    The final average earnings is determined by comparing: (a) the average of the highest 8 consecutive academic years during the last 10 years of employment, and (b) the average of the last 96 consecutive months during the last 120 months of employment (if applicable), using whichever is higher.

  18. What is a reversionary annuity under the Traditional plan?

    A reversionary annuity provides your spouse or other dependent beneficiary with a monthly income in addition to what is payable as a survivor benefit. In order to provide this benefit to your spouse or other dependent beneficiary, you will receive a reduced annuity.

  19. What is the difference between a Normal form of annuity and an Optional form of annuity under the Portable plan?

    Please refer to the Normal and Optional forms of annuity section of the Portable member guide.

  20. Who is an eligible survivor under the Traditional plan?
    • Your spouse, if married at least one year prior to your death
    • An unmarried, dependent child under the age of 18
    • An unmarried, full-time student under the age of 22
    • A disabled child, if permanently disabled prior to the age of 18
    • A dependent parent, age 55 and older who is claimed as a dependent on your tax return
  21. Can I return to work after I retire?

    After retirement, you may return to work with a SURS-covered employer after you have been retired for at least 60 calendar days. There is no waiting period if you return to employment with an employer who is not covered by SURS.  For information on additional restrictions, please visit the Return to Work Life Events (link to menu for Return to Work Life Events).

  22. Is there a limitation on my earnings after retirement?

    If you return to work under a SURS-covered employer; Traditional and Portable retirees are subject to an earnings limitation.

    • If your annuity payments began before you were age 60, your gross monthly earnings may not exceed your base monthly gross annuity.
    • If your annuity payments began at age 60 or later, your earnings during any academic year, combined with your annual base annuity from SURS, cannot exceed your highest earnings during any academic year before you retired.
    • If your first participation began prior to January 1, 2011, there is no limitation on your post-retirement earnings if you return to work with an employer who is not covered by SURS.
    • If your first participation began on or after January 1, 2011, there is no limitation on your post-retirement earnings if you return to work with an employer who is not covered by SURS; however, if you begin full-time covered employment with an eligible retirement system covered under the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act, SURS may be required to suspend your annuity during that employment.
  23. Will I receive a cost of living increase on my retirement?

    If you first began participation before January 1, 2011:
    Each January 1st, your retirement annuity will automatically receive a 3% compounded increase. The first increase will begin on the January 1st following the month in which you retire and will be prorated for the number of months you were retired.

    If you first began participation on or after January 1, 2011:
    A non-compounding annual increase will apply to the monthly retirement annuity beginning on the January 1 occurring on or after the later of your attainment of age 67 or the 1st anniversary of the commencement of your annuity. The annual increases will be the lesser of 1/2 of the change in the Consumer Price Index – Urban (CPI-U) from the preceding year or 3%, computed on the original retirement annuity amount. If for any year the CPI-U decreases or is zero, no annual increase will apply.