A writer must “know and have an ever-present consciousness that this world is a world of fools and rogues… tormented with envy, consumed with vanity; selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions… He should free himself of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, politics…” —Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?). “The nobility of the writer's occupation lies in resisting oppression, thus in accepting isolation” —Albert Camus (1913-1960). “What are you gonna do” —Bertha Brown (1895-1987).
Important and Interesting Events of the Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois Since 1915
Supreme Court ruled unanimously [on May 8] that the 2013 state law overhauling
Teachers’ Retirement System benefits was unconstitutional. The high court
decided that changes in retirement benefits enacted by the law violated the
Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution. This decision upheld a
2014 ruling by a Sangamon County Circuit Court and was the final chapter in a
15-month-long legal challenge to the law. With this decision, TRS members in
Tier I and Tier II saw no changes in the administration of their retirement
benefits. The retirement benefit calculation, cost-of-living-adjustment
calculation, active member contribution rate, eligibility standards for retirement
and all other current laws governing teacher pensions were not changed.
2014In early 2014,
five lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of Public Act
98-0599. These cases were consolidated in Sangamon County Circuit Court. As
part of this legal challenge, a court injunction issued on May 14 delayed
Public Act 98-0599’s implementation. Public Act 98-0599 was declared unconstitutional
by a Sangamon County Circuit Court as a violation of the Illinois Constitutions
Pension Protection Clause – Article XIII Sec. 5 [November 21, 2014]. The
decision was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which [was] expected to rule
on the case in 2015.
2011A retired Tier I
member may work in a TRS-covered position for 100-paid days or 500-paid hours
each year and not lose benefits. The previous limit, which expired June 30, 2011
was 120-paid days or 600-paid hours per year. Only work that requires teacher
certification, including summer-school and substitute teaching, is subject to
the 100 days/500 hours post-retirement employment limitation.
2010Tier II [was] created: Public
Act 96-0889, which was signed into law in the spring of 2010, adds a new
section to the Pension Code that applies different benefits to anyone who
first contributes to TRS on or after Jan. 1, 2011 and does not have any
previous service credit with a pension system that has reciprocal rights with
TRS. These members are referred to as “Tier II” members. Changes from the “Tier
I” pension law include raising the minimum eligibility to draw a retirement
benefit to age 67 with 10 years of service, initiating a cap on the salaries
used to calculate retirement benefits, and limiting cost-of-living annuity
adjustments to the lesser of 3 percent or 1/2 of the annual increase in the
Consumer Price Index, not compounded. The retirement formula is unchanged. The new pension
law does not apply to anyone who has TRS service prior to Jan. 1, 2011. These members
remain participants of Tier I and not Tier II.
Medicare referendum ever conducted in the United States concluded on this date.
Over 28,000 Illinois teachers decided whether or not to begin contributing to
Medicare after July 1, 2004. This onetime opportunity was necessary because
individuals who had been continuously employed with the same school district
since March 31, 1986 were not accumulating Medicare credits through their
employment as teachers.
2003Credit became permitted for members
with up to two years of unused and unpaid sick leave for 340 or more days. Purchase of service and credit became permitted
for members with up to two years of service for teaching in private schools
recognized by the State Board of Education.
2001The TRS board consisted of 11
members (one additional
elected annuitant). (PA 91-0941).
1998The 2.2 percent per year flat rate formula
became used for service credit after July 1, 1998 and for service before July
1, 1998, if it was upgraded.
1995An additional 0.5
of one percent was deducted from the gross creditable earnings to help fund the
Teachers' Health Insurance Security Fund (THIS) for the Teachers' Retirement
Insurance Program (TRIP). TRS only acts as an agent to CMS for TRIP. No TRS
monies are used to fund TRIP.
1994 [The flawed "Pension Ramp" (Public Act 88-0593) became operative in the 1996 Fiscal year].
1993Early Retirement Incentive
(ERI) (5 & 5) was enacted for teachers with a two-year window for retirement
between June 1 and September 1 in 1993 and 1994. A third window in 1995 allowed
for retirements that were delayed by an employer. Those taking ERI were not
eligible for Early Retirement Option (ERO).
1991The purchase of optional service for
two years of military service prior to teaching became permitted. ERO
contributions were based on capped salary; 170 days became used as a
denominator for determining service credit. TRS
retirees were allowed to teach without restrictions in colleges and
annual increases [COLA] compounded annually at 3%.
1987A special health
insurance coverage option was offered (non-Medicare plan).
teachers contributed 1.45 percent to Social Security for Medicare.
1984A maximum of one year of service for 170 (or
sick leave credit was granted to members retiring after June 1, 1984.
1982Salary for ERO
was redefined to calculate the contributions based on the greater of the last
full-time salary rate or the highest full-time salary rate used in the
determination of average salary.
Retirement Option (ERO) was established for retirements on and after June 1 of 1980. A
member between the ages of 55 and 60 with 20 or more years of service credit
could retire without an early retirement reduction. Additional contributions
were required from the member and employer. 1978 Post-retirement annual increases [COLA] set at 3%.
survival benefits became payable to a dependent at age 50, instead of 55, if there were no
surviving dependent children. The TRS board consisted of nine members [at this time].
one-half year or 85 days of sick leave was granted. The member had to retire
within 120 days of teaching to receive the credit. The purchase of
five years of military service was permitted even though a member received a
military allotment. Post-retirement annual increases [COLA] set at 2%.
1971Average salary [was] determined based on the highest four consecutive years within the last
10 years. Post-employment
limitations in Illinois public schools became limited to teaching.
permitted at age 60 with 10 years; age 62 with 5 years; and age 55 with 20
years of service. The maximum retirement allowance increased from 60
percent of average salary at age 60 to 61-2/3 percent at age 61; 63-1/3 percent
at age 62; 65 percent at age 63; 66-2/3 percent at age 64; 68-1/3 percent at
age 65; and 70 percent at age 66 and thereafter. Post-retirement annual increases or Cost of Living Adjustment [COLA] set at 1.5%.
1964A six percent
reduction was taken for each year in which retirement occurs earlier than age
60. However, there was no reduction if retirement was necessitated by
purchase of optional service credit for
leave of absence [was] permitted. The military service credit maximum became
five years. School nurses became TRS
members.Members were permitted to
retire at age 60 or over with 10 or more years of creditable service provided
that one year was completed after July 1, 1963, and three years were completed
after July 1 following age 55.Annuitants
were required to return to teaching for three years to receive an actuarial
calculation. This was based on the enactment of new laws.Monthly survivor benefits payable to survivors
of a member who died while receiving a disability allowance were not limited to
80 percent of a member's disability allowance.A change was made in calculating the amount due and estimating the
interest rates for contingent service of new members in TRS on July 1, 1963
contributions were required to be submitted monthly by employers; 170 days equaled
1.000 years of service. The survivor benefits program was enacted.
teaching basis definition became normal employment requiring not less than 450
hours. The maximum retirement allowance [was] $4,800 per year. Fractional years
of credit could be used and average salary could be based on the highest five
consecutive years of credit in the last 10 years.An application for disability had to be made
while teaching or within 31 days of teaching.A permanent disability retirement benefit became the larger of $400
per year or 30 percent of the most recent salary subject to a maximum benefit
of $1,000 per year.Average salary [was] determined by the highest five consecutive years within the last 10
allowances became payable monthly.
minimum disability allowance [was] $400
per year for any member at age 50 with 25 or more years of service. The death refund included additional contributions
made for verified outside service. The requirement for continuous
service in TRS before retirement was reduced from 10 years to five years. The
age retirement allowance could not exceed 3/5 of the maximum salary on which
contributions were based. The maximum
retirement allowance became $1,500 per year.
1939An age retirement
allowance calculated under an actuarial plan considered the member and state
contributions and the retiring member's exact age on [his or her] retirement date. The
classification of teachers in relation to contributions [was] determined by
the amount of a member's salary rather than by years of teaching. The minimum retirement benefit became $400
for members retiring with 25 years of creditable service. Permanent disability benefits became payable for 10
or more years of service. The minimum disability benefit [was] $200 per year. Upon
the death of a member, a refund of accumulated contributions became payable to
the estate or beneficiary. Teachers who
ceased teaching became entitled to a refund of all contributions made to TRS
without interest. Their applications could not be processed until four months
after teaching had ceased.
benefits began for some teachers and were paid quarterly using a “flat benefit
plan.” They included a permanent disability payment if an educator had 15 years
of service credit.
A History of Employees' Contribution Rates:
contribution of 9.0 percent is broken down to 8.0 percent for retirement
annuities (of which 0.5 percent is for annual COLAs) and 1.0 percent for death
2016: 9.0 percent
2005: 9.4 percent
1998: 9 percent
1971: 8 percent
1969: 7.5 percent
1959: 7 percent
1953: 6 percent
1947: 5 percent
1939: 4 percent
1933-39: $10/year for first 10 years, $20/year for next 5
years, $30/year for next 10 years. Prior to 1933: $5/year for first 10 years, $10/year for
next 5 years, $30/year for next 10 years. (1933 amendment required back assessment
payment to bring contributions for prior years to rates effective July 1, 1933).