One issue members often ask about is retirement. We’ve attempted to compile and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about retirement as a resource for members. But, please feel free to contact your building representative or a UFEA leader if you have additional questions not answered here or need more information.


When do members stop being able to get their 6% retirement incentive?

In 2018, legislation was passed in Illinois impacting the Pension Code and potentially impacting TRS participants.

The change what’s most likely to have the biggest impact on members is the reduction in the “threshold” affecting employer contributions on year-to-year salary increases for a TRS member from 6 percent to 3 percent, if the pay increases would factor into the calculation of a member’s initial pension.

This change from 6% to 3% is significant. The IEA Member’s Only website has a helpful FAQ regarding the change.

Collective Bargaining Agreements that were already in place when the change took effect were “grandfathered”. Our current contract had been ratified shortly before the change took effect, meaning that the 6% retirement incentive in the contract was allowed to remain, with no impact on the District or bargaining unit members while the current contract is in effect.

This means that bargaining unit members covered by our current contract, if they qualify for the Retirement Incentive described in 9.4, may submit their retirement letter and request the 6% retirement incentive for up to 3 years.The last opportunity for members to submit a letter and receive the current retirement incentive, unless there are changes or the law is repealed, would be prior to May 1, 2020 to receive the incentive for one, two or three years (2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23).

We are currently working to try to get the 3% repealed. You can join the effort!

Do I have to submit my retirement letter three years prior to retiring?

No. You may submit your letter at any point in time.  The retirement incentive is available for up to three years. In order to receive the negotiated retirement incentive, a member submits their letter one, two, or three years prior to their retirement date. In other words, you only have to submit your retirement letter three years prior to retiring if you wish to receive the retirement incentive for three years.

When do I have to submit my retirement letter to get the retirement incentive?

May 1, the year before you are first eligible to retire. So if you are eligible to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, you would need to submit your letter by May 1, 2020.  9.4.1 of the UFEA contract states:

“If a bargaining unit member gives the Board an irrevocable notice of retirement by May 1st prior to the school year he/she is first eligible to retire under the above criteria, the Board shall pay the bargaining unit member a six percent (6%) retirement incentive, inclusive of any other increase in compensation, for each of his/her remaining years of service, up to a total of three (3) years.”

So, does that mean I have to retire the first year I am eligible? Or, am I required to work for two years after I am eligible to retire?

You may retire the first year you are eligible to retire. Or, you may work for two years after you are eligible to retire. Actually, you may work as long as you wish. However, if you wish to receive the retirement incentive, you will need to submit your letter by May 1 the year before you are first eligible to retire. Yet, you may still then receive the retirement incentive for up to three years, meaning you could work for a couple years beyond the first year you are eligible to retire.

For example, an individual first eligible to retire (and receive the retirement incentive), at the end of the 2020-21 school year as a few options if they wish to receive the retirement incentive.

  • They could have submitted their letter by May 1, 2018 and received the retirement incentive in 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21, retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
  • They could also submit their letter by May 1, 2020 and receive the retirement incentive in 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23, retiring at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
  • They could choose to only receive the retirement incentive for one or two years as well, and submit their letter accordingly.

I am receiving the 6% Retirement Incentive. Why can’t I find my salary on the salary schedule?

Once you submit your irrevocable retirement letter, you are removed from the the salary schedule, and your salary is calculated by taking your TRS creditable earnings from the year before you received the retirement incentive and multiplying it by the 6% incentive.

How do I know if I am eligible to retire?

There are many factors that can be involved when determining retirement eligibility. Each individual’s situation can be unique, including their previous service, purchased service credit, etc. The best way for an individual to determine their retirement eligibility with TRS is to contact TRS at 877-9-ASK-TRS and ask to speak with one of their experts.

To be eligible to retire with TRS, an individual must meet one of the following criteria if they are Tier 1 participants:

  • Be 62 years of age with at least 5 years of service
  • Be 60 years of age with at least 10 years of service
  • Be 55 years of age with at least 20 years of service (discounted annuity)
  • Be 55 years of age with at least 35 years of service

Tier 2 participants may retire at age 62 with at least 10 years of service, but will receive retirement benefits reduced 6 percent for every year the member is under age 67.

Eligibility for the contractual retirement incentive is a slightly different issue. Our contractual language outlines the qualifications for being eligible to retire and receive the incentive. Individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Have completed ten (10) years or more of TRS creditable service with Unit 5
  • Be eligible to retire under TRS
  • Not cause a penalty to Unit 5 by retiring

When do I stop getting my Unit 5 health insurance?

Health insurance ends for employees the month after they receive their final paycheck. For most employees, that means their health insurance covers them until September 1 following their final school year of employment.

How do I know if I am a Tier 1 or Tier 2 employee?  And what is the difference?

Tier 2 members in the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois first contributed to TRS on or after Jan. 1, 2011 and have no pre-existing creditable service with a reciprocal pension system prior to Jan. 1, 2011.  If you contributed to TRS prior to Jan. 1, 2011, you are a Tier 1 member.

There are a handful of differences between the two tiers.  Information can be found on the TRS website and on the fact sheet.