Membership in the General Assembly Retirement System of Illinois is comprised of members of the General Assembly and state officials of the executive branch who are elected by the people of Illinois. Under certain conditions, the clerk or the assistant clerk of the House of Representatives and the secretary or the assistant secretary of the Senate may be eligible for membership.

Eligibility

You automatically become a member of GARS unless you file an election with the Board of Trustees not to participate. Your written decision declining participation must be filed within 24 months from the date of being notified of the option.

Contributions

You contribute a percentage of your salary by payroll deduction for benefits. The table below shows current contribution rates.

You may choose not to contribute to the survivor's annuity if you have no eligible survivors. If you revoke this election, you can requalify for the survivor's annuity by repaying GARS all contributions that would have been paid during this time period, plus interest of 4%.

If it is determined that the member has no eligible survivors after contributing to the survivor's annuity, he/she may apply for a refund of the survivor contributions. A refund of the survivor's annuity cannot be made after retirement.


  
  
Retirement Annuity
8.5 %
Automatic Annuity Increase
1.0 %
Survivor's Annuity
2.0 %
TOTAL
11.5 %


Contributions made after January 1, 1982, have been excluded from your gross income for federal and state income tax purposes. You pay no tax on your contributions until you receive them. Additional information on tax treatment of GARS benefits can be found in the GARS Your Rights and Responsibilities Tier 1 Member Handbook.

Contributions and service credit in all reciprocal systems may be transferred to GARS at a cost.

If Your Contributions Were Refunded

See Optional Service Credit

If you terminated legislative service, received a refund of your contributions, and later returned to state service, you may reestablish your credited service by repaying your refund, plus 4% interest annually. Contributions must be repaid before retirement for your service to be credited.

If you are unmarried, have no eligible survivors, and have contributions in the survivor's annuity, you can apply for a refund of these contributions anytime before retiring.

Tax-Deferring Optional Service Purchases

GARS allows you to tax-defer optional service credit purchases (i.e. military service, refunded service, etc.) through payroll deduction. The tax-deferred withholding is an irrevocable payroll agreement for the total service credit purchase. Service credit is granted only after a refund repayment or service purchase is paid in full.

Military Service

Military service can be purchased based on your rate of compensation on the last date as a GARS participant prior to the military service, or on the first date as a participant after such military service, whichever is greater. A copy of your DD-214 is required.

Service Under Other Illinois Public Retirement Systems

If you have established at least one year of credited service under an Illinois public retirement system that participates in the Retirement Systems’ Reciprocal Act, your service under that system may be used when determining eligibility for a GARS benefit.

In general, the rules of each retirement system apply in determining a benefit. The benefit amount is based on the benefit formula and amount of service in each system on your last day of service.

Under the Reciprocal Act, GARS computes benefits using final compensation received in the last System you worked prior to retirement. However, your total benefits cannot be higher than it would have been if all service were in one system.

See the list of systems that participate in the Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act.