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IMRF Retirement Benefits: Regular Tier 1 Plan members

The information on this page applies to participants of IMRF’s Regular Plan Tier 1 only.

Table of contents:


About IMRF Retirement Benefits under the Regular Tier 1 Plan

IMRF provides for retirement benefits. Once you are vested (under the IMRF Regular Tier 1 plan, you are vested when you reach eight years of service credit) and eligible to retire, the pension is paid as long as you live, and is increased by 3% of the original amount on January 1 of each year after you retire.

Some IMRF members can also retire under the Early Retirement Incentive.

IMRF pensions are effective on the first day of the month after employment terminates and are paid in advance on the first day of every month. If you retire at any time during a month, you receive full service credit for that month, and your pension will be effective on the first day of the next month.

You will receive your IMRF benefit payment by Direct Deposit. Direct Deposit ensures the security of the your monthly pension by having the benefit payment electronically deposited into your checking, savings, or brokerage account.

To view a current estimate of your IMRF pension, sign into your Member Access account.

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How do you qualify for a Regular Tier 1 Plan Pension?

  • You must have at least eight years of service credit (can include reciprocal service).
  • You must not be working in any position which qualifies for IMRF coverage. An elected official holding an office that qualifies for IMRF participation can remain in the office and receive an IMRF pension if:
    • he/she did not choose to participate in IMRF when first elected and
    • his/her pension is not based on any service earned in that elected position during any term of office.
  • You must be at least age 55.
    • If you retire between age 55 and 60 and have less than 30 years of service credit, your pension will be reduced by 1/4% for each month you are under age 60.
    • If you retire between age 55 and 60 and have at least 30 but less than 35 years of service credit, your pension will be reduced by the lesser of
      • 1/4% for each month you are under age 60
        or
      • 1/4% for each month of service credit less than 35 years.
    • If you retire at age 60 or older or if you have 35 years of service credit, your pension will not be reduced.

    Please note: unused, unpaid sick days converted to service credit cannot be used to meet the eight-year requirement for an IMRF Regular Plan Tier 1 pension or to meet the 35-year requirement for an unreduced pension under age 60.

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To apply for your pension

You can apply for your pension online. One month before your desired retirement date, sign in to your Member Access account, select the "Tools" tab, then select "Secure Online Forms."

Or, you can complete IMRF Form 5.20, "Application for IMRF Pension," and submit it to IMRF one month before your desired retirement date.

IMRF pensions are effective on the first day of the month after you terminate employment. IMRF pays pensions in advance on the first day of every month. For example, your August pension will be paid to you on August 1. If you retire at any time during a month, you receive full service credit for that month, and your pension will be effective on the first day of the next month. If you retire on September 15, you will receive service credit for the month of September, and your pension will be effective on October 1. You will receive your first pension payment within 30 days of that date.

Please note: IMRF can "back date" a pension only 12 months. If you are a Tier 1 participant who no longer participates in IMRF but are at least age 55, we recommend you apply for your pension.

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Pension formula under Regular Tier 1 Plan

Your IMRF pension is 1-2/3% of your final rate of earnings for each of the first 15 years of service credit, plus 2% of your final rate of earnings for each year of service credit in excess of 15 years. However, your total pension at retirement cannot exceed 75% of your final rate of earnings.

Final rate of earnings

Under the Regular Tier 1 plan, your final rate of earnings (FRE) is your highest total earnings during any 48 consecutive months within your last 10 years of IMRF service divided by 48. Usually, this is the average
of the last 48 months of service.

Service credit

Service credit is your total time under IMRF, stated in years and fractions. Service is credited monthly while you are working, receiving IMRF disability benefits or while you are on IMRF's Benefit Protection Leave.

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Reaching Maximum IMRF Pension Benefit

IMRF Regular Tier 1 Plan Members will receive the maximum retirement benefit after earning 40 years of Regular Tier 1 Plan service credit. If you have 40 or more years of service credit, you can elect to stop making IMRF contributions. If you stop contributing, you will still have the same death and disability benefit protecting as contributing members.

For more information, complete IMRF Form 6.24, "Election to Cease Making IMRF Contributions"

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Pension Payment Options for IMRF Regular Plan Tier 1 members

When you retire, your initial pension payments are always based on IMRF’s Standard plan. However, you may be eligible for other payment options.

Standard "Straight Life" Payout

Under the Standard plan, also known as you receive the same pension amount every month after you retire for the rest of your life, regardless of how long you live. Annually, IMRF pensions are increased by 3% of the original pension amount.

Optional Pension Payout

If you retire before age 62 under IMRF's Regular Plan Tier 1, IMRF's Optional Pension permits you to choose a larger IMRF pension until age 62 and a reduced IMRF pension thereafter.

After we receive your retirement application and final wage report from your employer, we will advise members under age 62 of the amounts payable under the Standard plan and under the Optional Pension. The calculations of the Optional Pension vary and can be computed on an individual basis only.

Special Needs Annuity option

Under the Special Needs Annuity option (also known as a "reversionary annuity"), you choose to to receive a smaller IMRF pension so that upon your death you can provide your spouse with a pension in addition to the IMRF surviving spouse pension or some other individual with a monthly pension. (For example, you can provide a pension for your your current spouse if he or she is not eligible for an IMRF surviving spouse pension, or provide a pension for a child, an ex-spouse, or any other loved one.)

Read more about the Special Needs Annuity for Tier 1 members.

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Pension increases under the Regular Tier 1 Plan

Your IMRF pension is paid as long as you live. If you retire under the Regular Tier 1 plan, it is increased by 3% of the original amount on January 1 of each year after you retire. The first year increase is prorated unless the effective date of the pension is January 1.

EXAMPLE: $500 monthly pension effective January 1 with the annual 3% increase.

Year Monthly Amount
1 $500
2 $515
3 $530
4 $545
5 $560
10 $635
15 $710

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IMRF Online provides a brief summary of IMRF benefits and the adminstration of those benefits. IMRF members' and employers' rights and obligations are governed by Article 7 of the Illinois Pension Code. Statements in these publications are general, and the Illinois state law governing IMRF is complex and specific. If a conflict arises between information in these publications and the law, all decisions are based on the law.

Copyright Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund

Page Last Updated by LH on 07-09-12