Membership in the Judges’ Retirement System of Illinois is comprised of judges and associate judges of any court and the director of the Office of the Illinois Courts, if the director had previously established membership in JRS as a judge.

Eligibility

You automatically become a member of JRS unless you file an election not to participate. Your written decision declining participation must be filed within 30 days from the date of being notified of the option.

Contributions

As a Tier 1 active judge, you contribute a percentage of your salary by payroll deduction for benefits. You contribute 7.5 percent of your salary towards your retirement annuity, 1 percent towards your annual annuity increases, and 2.5 percent towards the survivor’s annuity, for a total of 11 percent of your salary.

If you are single at the time you become a judge and do not wish to contribute the survivor's annuity, your contributions will be reduced to 8.5% once you return a completed Election Not to Participate in the Survivor's Annuity Provisions-Unmarried Judges form.  If you later become married while an active judge, you must notify JRS.

JRS will give you options to either:

  1. Establish a full survivor benefit from the date you first became a judge by making contributions to cover the survivor annuity for the period you were unmarried plus 3% interest, or
  2. Begin contributing from the date of your marriage forward to provide a prorated benefit for your surviving spouse.

Please note: Retired judges have the option to re-establish a full survivor benefit, but do not have a prorated benefit repayment option.

If you are married, or marry while an active judge, you are required to contribute 2.5% of your salary for the survivor’s annuity provision unless you and your spouse file an Irrevocable Election Not to Participate in the Survivor’s Annuity Provisions form. Your form declining participation must be filed within 30 days of notifying JRS of your marital status. No survivor annuity will be payable upon your death. Contributions to the survivor’s annuity are only required for a spouse to qualify for the survivor annuity benefit and are not required for an eligible child to qualify for the child’s annuity.

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.

Service credit starts with the first day you become a contributing member. Your service during any fraction of a month is considered a full month of service.

If Your Contributions Were Refunded

See Optional Service Credit

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 JRS 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, JRS computes benefits using the salary on the last day of employment as a judge for membership dates prior to August 10, 2009. For membership dates on or after August 10, 2009 through December 31, 2010, JRS computes benefits using an average of the 48 highest consecutive months of salary within the last 120 months of service. Your total benefits cannot be higher than it would have been if all service were in one system.

Follow the link for the list of systems that participate in the Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act.