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State Universities Retirement System (SURS)

SURS Tier 2 - Frequently Asked Questions

The information presented below is for explanatory purposes only. It is based on SURS' current understanding of the law; however, this understanding may change as a result of a change in the law or interpretation of the law. More information will be posted as it becomes available. The University reserves the right to supplement or modify the FAQs as circumstances warrant.


What changed about the State Universities Retirement System (SURS)?

A State law (Public Act 96-0889) modified provisions for the SURS TRADITIONAL and PORTABLE Plans, including changes to Minimum Vesting, Normal Retirement Age, Earliest Retirement Age, Age Reduction, Final Rate of Earnings (FRE), FRE Limits, and more. A chart that summarizes the changes is available on the SURS website. The SURS SELF MANAGED PLAN (SMP) is unchanged.

Am I impacted by the SURS changes?

If you were already a SURS participant (i.e., participating in SURS prior to January 1, 2011), then you are NOT impacted by these changes. To determine if you are participating in SURS, view your NESSIE Earnings Statement to see if it contains a SURS deduction under "Deductions Summary".

If you become a new SURS participant on or after 1/1/2011, for example as a new employee or changing to a new SURS-eligible position, then you will be covered by Public Act 96-0889.

I have heard reference to Tier 1 and Tier 2. What does this mean?

SURS divides employees into two different tiers based on the SURS pension changes.

Tier 1: Current employees who are SURS participants prior to 1/1/2011 and annuitants (prior to 1/1/2011) are considered Tier 1 members.

Tier 2: Employees who first become SURS participants on or after 1/1/2011 are considered Tier 2 members. View the SURS summary chart for an overview of Tier 2 benefits.

If I am a part-time employee and change to full-time on or after 1/1/2011, am I considered Tier 1 or Tier 2?

The tier in which you are included depends solely on whether you were a SURS participant as a part-time employee. The determining factor is the date on which you became a SURS participant. If you were "certified" as a SURS participant prior to 1/1/2011, then you are considered Tier 1 regardless of your percent of time worked. If you were previously in a position that was not SURS-eligible, and then changed to a SURS-eligible position on or after 1/1/2011, then you are considered Tier 2.

I was previously a SURS member or a member of one of the other State of Illinois reciprocal systems. When I begin work at (or return to) the University of Illinois, will I be considered Tier 1 or 2?

If you were ever a SURS participant, or a participant in one of the State of Illinois reciprocal systems, prior to 1/1/2011, then you would be considered Tier 1. This is true whether or not you were vested, or if you accepted a separation refund of your pension at termination. Your SURS election is a lifetime, irrevocable decision, so once your election has been made, that decision follows you.

For example, if you previously worked at Illinois State University and were in the SURS-Traditional Plan as of 12/2/2010 and then left ISU and begin working at the University of Illinois (UI) on 1/15/2011, then you will be in the exact same plan, i.e. SURS-Traditional (Tier 1) at UI.

I became SURS-eligible prior to 1/1/2011, but have not yet made my SURS plan election. Am I considered Tier 1 or Tier 2?

If you are SURS-eligible prior to 1/1/2011, you are considered Tier 1, regardless of whether or not you have made your election.

If I have a visa with a residency requirement and have not yet met substantial presence, am I subject to Tier 1 or Tier 2?

If you anticipate meeting substantial presence by the end of 2010, you may wish to check with your HR office to determine your SURS certification date. Certain visa holders who have not established residency status (met substantial presence) during 2010 and who may become eligible and certified as a SURS participant effective on or after January 1, 2011 will be considered Tier 2.

Who do I contact with questions?

Most questions can be answered by reviewing the SURS Tier 2 summary chart. If you are a new employee, trying to make your SURS choice, review the Retirement Choice Election booklet/video provided on the SURS website. Questions about your specific situation may be directed to SURS at 1-800-ASK-SURS (800-275-7877) or in Urbana-Champaign 217-378-8800.


Maintained by University Human Resources | Contact Information | Last Update: 10-January-2017 | ID: 4474