Tier 2 Survivor/Death Benefits

First Survivor Annuity Payment

In the event of your death, your beneficiaries must notify JRS and provide a copy of the death certificate. A survivor’s annuity and/or child’s annuity packet will be provided to an eligible spouse and/or eligible child(ren). Benefits will be processed once all the required documentation is received. JRS will process the first annuity payment retroactive to the first of the month following the member’s death. We make every effort to process the first annuity payment as soon as possible.

The first survivor annuity payment is mailed directly to your home from the Comptroller’s Office. JRS will send the survivor’s benefit approval letter containing information about the survivor annuity and a fact sheet explaining the taxation of the annuity.

Future Survivor Annuity Payments

Future annuity payments are issued on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. Then 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.

Marriage/Remarriage

Child annuities payable to children are terminated when the child marries, reaches age 18, or age 22 if they remain a full-time student. Disabled adult children who receive a child’s annuity continue to receive benefits until marriage, they are no longer disabled, or become gainfully employed. Gainful employment is defined as receiving gross earnings for personal services (fees, wages, salary, commissions, and similar items) which exceed the poverty level income published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This gainful employment limitation applies during any period a child's annuity benefit is claimed or paid.

Increases for Survivors

The survivor benefit is increased by 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index-U, whichever is less, each January 1 following the first full year of receiving this benefit. The increase is compounded based on the previous year’s survivor’s benefit. If the deceased member was an annuitant, the increase is effective on January 1 after the survivor’s benefit began. The survivor’s increase is not payable prior to age 67.

Disabled adult children who receive a child’s annuity will become eligible for an increase equal to the lesser of: 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index-U as determined by the Public Pension Division of the Illinois Department of Insurance. The increase will become payable on the January 1 following the first anniversary of receiving the benefit, but in no event prior to age 67.

Direct Deposit

A direct deposit form is included in your survivor benefit packet. 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 (217) 524-9039.

Your first survivor 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.

Taxation of Survivor Annuity Payments

Judges’ Retirement System survivor benefits are exempt from Illinois income tax but are subject to federal tax. When you apply for benefits, a W-4P federal withholding form is part of your survivor benefit 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 which shows the annuity amount you received for the past year, the taxable portion, and any federal or state income tax withheld.