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Retirement Options

State Universities Retirement System Web Site

All new employees in permanent and continuous positions or a position in which services are expected to be rendered on a continuous basis for at least four (4) months or one (1) academic term, whichever is less, are required to participate in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). SURS provides disability benefits, retirement annuity benefits, survivors insurance, early retirement benefit and the tax sheltering of an 8% employee contribution. Employees eligible for SURS will not contribute to Social Security but will contribute 1.45% to Medicare.

In case of illness, disability benefits are available to an employee who has been a participant of  SURS for at least two (2) years. No minimum participation is required if the disability results from an accident. 

The employee contribution to SURS is mandatory. Employee contributions may be withdrawn at the time of death, retirement or resignation. Refund of contributions at the time of resignation may be subject to a penalty. 

An employee who has been in layoff status for at least 120 days may request his or her contributions be refunded. 

Retirees may have to contribute to the cost of their health, dental and life coverage after retirement. This will depend on legislation. 

There are three (3) different SURS options available that employees may choose from for their retirement. 

Option 1: The Traditional (defined benefit) plan offers retirement annuity, survivors' benefits, death benefits or refund of employee contributions. 

Option 2: The Portable (defined benefit) plan offers retirement annuity and more lucrative refund if eligible. No survivor benefits are available unless purchased by the employee.

Option 3: The Self-Managed (defined contribution) plan allows the employee to invest in several different investment options. A retirement annuity is available. No survivor benefits are available. Refund options include the employee contributions plus investment return.

New employees have 6 months to choose the option in which they will participate. The choice is irrevocable. If the employee does not make a choice within the 6 month period, they will automatically be defaulted into the Traditional Plan.


Effective January 1, 2011

Changes to the Illinois Pension Code significantly impacted benefit provisions for employees first hired on or after January 1, 2011. Employees now fall under two tiers in the State Universities Retirement System: Tier 1 for employees hired before January 1, 2011 or Tier II for employees hired after January 1, 2011. Employees hired after January 1, 2011 but who were certified in any reciprocal retirement system, regardless if they took a refund upon separation, come in under Tier I benefits. Below are two links to more information regarding these benefits.

SURS Reciprocal Systems

SURS Tier Comparison Sheet


SURS Counseling Information

Benefit Services hosts SURS information sessions twice a year and employees are encouraged to attend. As employees near retirement, they may schedule a counseling session with a SURS counselor. Employees may meet with a representative from SURS either on campus during the spring or fall or may contact SURS directly to set up a phone session or a visit to the SURS office in Champaign.

Information on scheduling a SURS Counseling Session should be reviewed before a counseling session is scheduled.

More information concerning retirement can be found on the SURS website.

Employees considering retirement should contact Benefit Services at least 90 days before the expected retirement date.


Did you know -

1) Unused sick pay converts to service credit that can add as much as one year of service towards your retirement?

2) Health insurance benefits are pro-rated for each year of service up to twenty years when coverage is free to the retiree.

3) The SURS website has a benefit estimator on the site that you can use to estimate the best time for you to retire. (See the Estimator link on the left side of the SURS home page.) You still need to work with a SURS counselor since this is just an estimate and other factors may need to be considered.


Social Security Calculation Information

The website that you need to visit is Social Security Calculation Website . If you are eligible for a pension based on work that was not covered by Social Security, your Social Security benefit amount may be reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). 

Use this WEP Online Calculator or download the Detailed Calculator to see the effect of WEP on your estimated benefits.  Before you begin, you will need to have your most current Social Security benefit statement (received around the time of your birthday) and your expected pension amount from SIU (this is located on your SURS member website).

Retirement Options Frequently Asked Questions