Return to Work – Employee Restrictions



  • Read Important Information
  • Contact SURS
  • Review Estimate – 60 to 90 Days
  • Implement Option
Read Important Information

Under the SURS return-to-work restrictions (40 ILCS 5/15-139), an annuitant may not return to work in any capacity, paid or unpaid, with a SURS-covered employer until retired for at least 60 calendar days. The annuitant must have a clear separation from SURS-covered employment and no agreement, written or oral, to return to a SURS-covered employer at the time of retirement. If the annuitant does not satisfy this requirement, the annuity will be cancelled. 

It is the annuitant’s responsibility to notify SURS upon returning to employment for a SURS-covered employer. 

If the annuitant returns to SURS-covered employment after the 60-day period, the annuitant will be subject to an earnings limitation. The exact amount of the earnings limitation will be stated on the Certification of Retirement Annuity upon finalization of the retirement claim. If the annuitant exceeds the earnings limitation, the retirement annuity will be reduced or suspended. 

If an annuitant chooses to resume active participation in SURS and forego the annuity payments, special limitations may apply. Please contact SURS for more information. 

In addition, if the annuitant’s first participation began on or after Jan. 1, 2011 (Tier II), and the annuitant begins full-time employment with any other eligible retirement system covered under the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act, SURS may be required to suspend the annuity during that employment. 


There is no limitation on post-retirement earnings if: 

  • Annuitant returns to work with an employer who is not covered by SURS. 
  • Member takes a Portable lump-sum retirement. 
  • Member is in the SURS Retirement Savings Plan (RSP). 

If a member takes a Portable lump-sum retirement, there is a 60-day waiting period from the date payment was issued before returning to work for a SURS-covered employer. The member would then have the option to contribute to SURS when re-employed. 

For a member in the RSP, there is no waiting period. However, the member will not have the option to contribute to SURS when re-employed. 

Earnings Limitation 

If the annuitant receives any compensation from a SURS-covered employer, it will be subject to the earnings limitation. 

The only exception to the above would be if an annuitant is an independent contractor as determined by the IRS. Independent contractors must file a form SS-8 (Determination of Employee Work Status for Purposes of Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding) with the IRS. Once the IRS makes the determination of independent contractor status, the annuitant must provide SURS a copy of the IRS determination letter. 

Retirement Before Age 60 

If the annuity payments began before age 60, the monthly earnings from a SURS-covered employer cannot exceed the current monthly annuity. This limitation continues to apply after the annuitant turns 60. 

The earnings limitation is increased each year by any applicable automatic annual increase. 

Retirement at Age 60 or Later 

If the annuity payments began at age 60 or later, the earnings from a SURS–covered employer during any academic year after the retirement date, combined with the annual base annuity from SURS, may not exceed the annuitant’s highest earnings during any academic year before the retirement. 

Once the annual earnings limitation is calculated, it does not change. 

Contact SURS

If you return to SURS-covered employment or you obtain full-time employment with an eligible reciprocal system (Tier II annuitants only), you must contact SURS.  This does not apply to Retirement Savings Plan annuitants. 

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

SURS will request the following information:

  • What your earnings will be when you return to work
  •  The date you will return to work
  •  How long you will be returning to work and if you will exceed your earnings limitations

If your post-retirement earnings do not exceed the applicable earnings limitation, no further action is required on your part.

If your post-retirement earnings do exceed the applicable earnings limitation, SURS will request that you follow up this phone call with a letter confirming the information you provided to SURS via phone.

Review Estimate

If your post-retirement earnings exceed your earnings limitation, SURS will provide you with an estimate of your options.  The average processing time for these estimates is 60-90 days.  Review the letter carefully to determine which option best fits your situation.   This does not apply to Retirement Savings Plan annuitants or Portable Plan members who elected the Lump Sum Retirement Benefit. 
Option 1:  You may elect to receive only the portion of your benefit that is based on your employee contributions.  The portion of the benefit based on employer contributions would not be paid to you for the period during which you exceed your earnings limitation.  Since you would still be receiving an annuity from SURS, you would not contribute to SURS.  When your post-retirement employment ends, the employer portion plus the associated automatic annual increases will resume.

Option 2:  If your post-retirement employment will continue for at least nine months, you have an additional option.  You may elect to suspend your entire annuity and resume contributing to SURS.  The additional contributions and service credit will provide you with an additional annuity.  When your post-retirement employment ends, you will “re-retire.”  At that time, the original annuity plus associated automatic annual increases will resume and be increased by the amount of the additional annuity. Two different Final Rate of Earnings (FRE) and formula calculations will be performed.

Points to consider:

Taxable Income:  Under Option 1, you will still be receiving a taxable annuity from SURS in addition to your salary from your employer.  Under Option 2, you will not receive an annuity from SURS; therefore, only the earnings you receive from your employment will be considered for taxation purposes.

Loss of Income:  Under Option 2, you will forfeit all the annuity payments that would have been due to you for the period of time you return to work.  In addition, you will be required to pay contributions on your earnings while re-employed. 

Effect on Insurance:  Under Option 1, your insurance program will remain the same, if applicable.  Under Option 2, SURS will no longer serve as the withholding agent for your insurance.  You should check with your employer to determine your eligibility for the insurance benefits they provide.

Affected Annuitant:  Returning to work for a SURS-covered employer may cause you to become an Affected Annuitant under Public Act 97-0968.  Please refer to the Annuitant Return to Work – Employer Restrictions Life Event for further information.  

Click here to view Annuitant Return to Work – Employer Restrictions.

Implement Option

Once you have determined which option you want, you must implement that option.  This does not apply to Retirement Savings Plan annuitants or Portable Plan members who elected the Lump Sum Retirement Benefit. 

Option 1:
  You and your employer must notify SURS, in writing, of the date your employment will begin and the monthly salary you will be earning. 

Option 2 (if applicable):  You must file the Election to Forego the Receipt of Annuity Payments During Reemployment form provided to you with the estimate.

When your reemployment ends, you must contact SURS:

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