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STATE UNIVERSITIES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Executive Director: William E. Mabe

Chairperson:  Lindsay Anderson

Retirement FAQ

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When am I eligible to retire?
When should I file my application for retirement?
What happens if I file my retirement application late?
What documents should I submit with my retirement application?
Does SURS pay partial month retirement annuities?
What is a Preliminary Estimated Payment (PEP)?
At the time of my retirement, if I am entitled to payment for my vacation time or unused sick, who is responsible for this payment?
How does my unused/unpaid sick leave affect my retirement?
How does part-time employment affect my retirement?
What is a reciprocal retirement?
What are the reciprocal systems covered under the reciprocal act?
If I retire reciprocally, do I need to complete a retirement application with each system?
What is the normal time frame for completion of a retirement claim?
How can I check the status of my retirement claim?
What are the formulas SURS uses when calculating a retirement benefit under the Traditional or Portable plan?
What does the term "final average earnings" mean as it is used in the retirement calculation?
What is a reversionary annuity under the Traditional plan?
What´s the difference between a Normal form of annuity and an Optional form of annuity under the Portable plan?
Can I return to work after I retire?
Is there a limitation on my earnings after retirement?
Will I receive a cost of living increase on my retirement?



When am I eligible to retire?
If participation first began prior to January 1, 2011:

    • 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:

  • At age 62 with 10 or more years of service, with applicable age reduction
  • At age 67 with 10 or more years of service

When should I file my application for retirement?
SURS would like to receive your application 60-90 days prior to your effective date of retirement.

What happens if I file my retirement application late?
Your effective date will remain the same, however; your first payment may be delayed.

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.

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.

What is a Preliminary Estimated Payment (PEP)?

When you retire, SURS might not have all the information available to calculate your final annuity. In an effort to pay you in a timely manner, we send a PEP check beginning on the effective date of your retirement. You will continue to receive these estimated payments while your claim is being processed. Preliminary estimated payments are a portion of what your actual benefit will be and is not the same amount as the estimate you may have had calculated by a Member Services Representative. Preliminary estimated payments do 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

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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.

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.

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.

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 (provided by SERS).

What are the reciprocal systems covered under the reciprocal act?
Please consult the current list of reciprocal systems.

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.

What is the normal time frame for completion of a retirement claim?
Normal processing time is approximately 90-120 days for a non-reciprocal retirement claim and 120-180 days for a reciprocal retirement claim.

How can I check the status of my retirement claim?
You may contact a Benefits Counselor in our Call Center at 800-275-7877 for the status of your retirement claim.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Will I receive a cost of living increase on my retirement?
If you first began participation prior to 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 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.