NOTE: All optional credit must be purchased prior to retirement. See the Tax-Deferring Optional Service Purchases Fact Sheet for more information.

 

Service credit starts with the first day you become a contributing member. Your service during any fraction of a month is considered a month of service. General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) members may qualify to purchase additional service credit. The cost may include employee and employer contributions plus interest. GARS will require documentation to determine eligibility and provide estimate costs.

 

Tax-Deferring Optional Service Purchases

GARS allows members to tax-defer optional service credit purchases through payroll deduction. This lets members defer taxation until they retire. The tax-deferred withholding is made through an irrevocable payroll agreement for the total service credit purchase amount. GARS members may also transfer funds from their deferred compensation account to purchase permissive service credit or repay a refund.

Service credit is granted only after a refund or service purchase is paid in full. If the member dies, a partial service credit may be granted based on contributions and interest paid on the date of death.

In the case of retirement, termination or absences of more than one year, the member can choose to make an after-tax lump sum payment for the balance due, or the contributed amount can be refunded with taxes withheld and reported as income in that calendar year. Any after-tax lump sum payment must be made no later than 30 days after the member has been notified by GARS of the amount due.

Rollovers

You may rollover money from another qualified pension plan, an individual retirement account (IRA), 403b or 457 containing money from a qualified total distribution to purchase optional service credit or repay a refund. Contact GARS to request required forms needed to process a rollover.

To inquire about your eligibility to establish additional service credit, contact GARS at (217) 782-8500 or email gars@srs.illinois.gov. You will be notified in writing of any amount due and the credit that may be established.