Tier 1 FAQs
If I retire and receive pension payments amounting to more than my contributions, will my spouse still be entitled to survivor benefits if I die?
Assuming you contributed to the survivor’s annuity provision, an eligible spouse will be entitled to a survivor benefit regardless of the pension payments made to you.
What is the Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act?
The Retirement Systems’ Reciprocal Act provides that if an employee has at least one year of pension credits established in more than one retirement system covered under the Reciprocal Act, that non concurrent service can be considered as part of the combined service at the time of retirement or death of a member. The purpose of the Act is to ensure full and continuous pension credit for service in public employment in the State of Illinois, and the transfer of employment from one governmental unit to another.
As a legislator or constitutional officer I do not contribute to Social Security. When I retire, will my GARS benefit be affected?
No, your GARS benefit will not be reduced. However, you may want to contact the Social Security Administration, making reference to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), the impact of not contributing to Social Security as a legislator or constitutional officer. This situation may result in an offset to your Social Security benefits.
Will my pension benefit cease after I have received payments equal to the contributions I made to GARS as an active legislator or constitutional officer?
No. Pension benefits are payable to a retired member for life, regardless of contributions.
How soon should I request an application for a GARS pension?
Approximately 90 days prior to your retirement, you should contact the General Assembly Retirement System and request a pension application.
When will I receive my future pension checks?
Continuing pension payments are mailed on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. In this case, payments are mailed on the last business day before the 19th.
Can my pension benefit be divided because of a divorce?
Yes, if a Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order has been issued by an Illinois Court. A QILDRO does not establish a new benefit, nor does it create a new member or beneficiary. Generally, the QILDRO orders the payment of a benefit to the spouse as the alternate payee. It may also be payable to a child or other dependent as the alternate payee. (QILDRO forms and information.)
When is my first pension check paid?
Benefits are generally paid within six to eight weeks following your last day of employment and all required information and forms have been received by you and the Office of the Comptroller. If you are retiring reciprocally, your benefit may take longer to process but will always be paid retroactive to the date you were first eligible.
Can I set up an appointment with a GARS representative to calculate my benefits?
Contact GARS at (217) 782-8500 or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a benefit estimate or schedule an individual counseling session. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, GARS is currently offering telephone conferences instead of face-to-face appointments. We recommend that you request a benefit estimate prior to meeting with a GARS representative.