for Inactive IMRF Members
Forest pathway

You are an inactive member if you previously participated in IMRF and left your contributions on deposit with us. 

You are guaranteed the return of your contributions as either a pension or a refund. However, if you have enough service credit to qualify for an IMRF pension we strongly discourage you from requesting a refund. There are almost no circumstances when a refund will be an advantage to you over a pension.

Learn Then Decide

There is no charge or penalty for leaving contributions on deposit with IMRF, and there is no amount of time in which you have to make a decision about contributions before your required minimum distributions (RMD) age. (See for more information about your RMD.)

However, it is important to understand that you will not receive interest when you apply for a separation refund, no matter how long your contributions are on deposit with IMRF. 

Leave Your Contributions on Deposit With IMRF

This option makes sense if you are vested for an IMRF pension or if you think you may work for another IMRF or reciprocal system employer on the future. When you are an inactive member:

Take a Separation Refund

When you take a refund of your IMRF contributions, you lose all of your service credit and you give up your right to any future IMRF pension and death benefits. Consider this decision carefully if you are vested or if it is likely you will go back to work for another position covered by IMRF or an Illinois reciprocal retirement system.

In order to take a refund:

If you decide to take a refund, you have two options on what to do with your money. Each option has different tax consequences:

Rollover your refund Receive a direct payment
  • When you rollover your refund into an IRA (other than a Roth IRA) or other eligible retirement savings account, your contributions remain sheltered from taxes until you withdraw them.
  • If you roll over your refund into a Roth IRA, you will have to pay taxes up front; however, as long as you follow the withdrawal rules you can withdraw your money tax free – even the increase on your original amount that was earned as investment income.
  • IMRF is required by federal law to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of your refund unless you elect to have the taxable portion directly rolled over into a traditional IRA (not a Roth IRA) or other qualified retirement plan.
  • Depending on your age, you may also be liable for an additional 10% tax on the taxable portion of your refund. You may defer the additional 10% tax by directly rolling your refund into a traditional IRA or other qualified pension plan.