First Retirement Annuity Payment
JRS processes your first annuity payment after receiving your pension application and other required information. We make every effort to process your first annuity payment as soon as possible, but the normal processing time can range from six to eight weeks following your last day of service. Processing time for members who have reciprocal service in another retirement system may take longer since JRS must receive information from the other systems to process the claim.
The Comptroller’s Office will mail your first annuity payment directly to your home. You will also receive a pension approval letter containing important information about your retirement annuity and a fact sheet explaining the taxation of your annuity.
Future Retirement Annuity Payments
Future annuity payments are issued on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. In this case, they are mailed or deposited on the last working day before the 19th.
Benefit recipients who do not have direct deposit will have their payment mailed directly to their home address. Because the Comptroller’s Office has a 30-day waiting period for lost checks, members are strongly advised to sign up for direct deposit to avoid payment delays. If you don’t receive it in the allotted time, contact our office. Failure to advise JRS of an address change can result in a payment delay.
When you apply for benefits with JRS, you receive a depository agreement form. If you choose direct deposit, your financial institution must complete the lower portion of the form before returning it to JRS. You may also fax the form to JRS at
Your first retirement annuity is always mailed to your home address. If you elect direct deposit, all payments after the initial one will be deposited into your bank account.
Increases for Retirees
JRS retirees receive a 3% increase to their pensions on January 1 following their first full year of retirement. Retirees receive future increases of 3% of their current pension each January 1 thereafter. Future increases are not limited by the 85% maximum.
Benefit Limitations Under IRC Section 415
Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of employer-paid benefits that can be paid from a qualified pension plan in a calendar year. Employer-paid benefits above the qualified plan limit must be paid from an excess benefit plan, resulting in two monthly amounts being deposited into the same account on the same day. Section 415 limitations do not affect all retired judges.
At the end of each calendar year, affected judges will receive a Form 1099-R for the benefit paid from the JRS qualified plan, as well as a W-2 reflecting the benefits paid from the excess, non-qualified plan.
Taxation of Your Retirement Annuity
Judges’ Retirement System benefits are exempt from Illinois income tax but are subject to federal tax. When you initially apply for benefits, a W-4P federal withholding form is part of your retirement packet.
The W-4P form lets you designate the amount of taxes withheld from your annuity or opt out of having taxes withheld. If the W-4P form is not completed, taxes will be withheld using the filing status of married with three exemptions. You can change your withholding at any time by submitting a revised W-4P form to JRS. The form is available under the Forms link on the JRS website and in your online Member Services account.
The Comptroller’s Office issues a 1099-R by January 31 of each year. This form shows the annuity amount you received for the past year, the taxable portion and any federal or state income tax withheld.
Taxation of Refund Associated with Retirement
Judges who retire without an eligible surviving spouse and have contributed to the survivor’s annuity provision can elect to take a refund of their survivor contributions. Survivor contribution refunds are subject to federal income tax withholding if payment is made directly to the member. Federal tax is not withheld if the lump-sum payment is rolled over to another qualified retirement plan.
If you elect to receive a survivor contribution refund at retirement, the Comptroller’s office will issue a 1099-R by January 31 following the date of the refund. The refund will be considered taxable income in the year it is received unless it was transferred to another qualified plan.
If you elect to receive a survivor contribution refund at retirement and later remarry, you can repay the refund with interest. Once the refund is repaid, survivor benefits would be payable to an eligible spouse after you have been married one full year.
Returning to Employment
As a Tier 1 retiree, your JRS retirement benefit will be suspended if you return to service as a judge.
It is also suspended if:
- You accept a permanent state position.
- You retired using the Reciprocal Act and exceed the post retirement employment limits in a reciprocal system from which you are receiving retirement benefits.
Your JRS benefits will continue if you:
- Return to work for a county and did not originally retire using reciprocity with the county.
- Work at a public college or university.
- Accept private employment.
- Work for the state in any temporary position, except judge, for 75 days or less per calendar year.
- Accept employment with the Supreme Court Arbitration Service Program.
- Accept employment with a Supreme Court Commission or Committee that receives no State appropriations.
- Work as an independent contractor for the State.
If you retired under the provisions of the Reciprocal Act and are receiving a pension from more than one Illinois public retirement system, you must notify all retirement systems involved of your return to work status. Each system determines if you are eligible to continue receiving your pension during this reemployment.
If you are Recalled
If you are recalled as a Tier 1 judge, your retirement annuity will be suspended. You will contribute to JRS during this period of employment and earn additional service credit. At the end of your recall period,
you will be required to submit a retirement application to JRS.
JRS will recalculate your benefit based on your additional judicial service and reinstate your benefit the day following your removal from the bench. Your new pension amount will be the benefit earned before reemployment, plus the pension amount earned during your reemployment.
If you retired with the maximum annuity, upon returning to retirement, you will be given the 3% automatic benefit increase for any January during your recall service.