IMRF Will Not Reduce Your Social Security
Your IMRF retirement benefits will never be reduced because you receive Social Security, and your Social Security benefits should not be reduced by your IMRF pension.
With the exception of a small number of people, IMRF members participate in Social Security in addition to IMRF, and you are entitled to full retirement benefits from each.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you receive the full Social Security benefit you are entitled to. IMRF Field Representatives can help you if your local Social Security office is attempting to reduce your benefits when they shouldn't.
Your Social Security benefits would be reduced if you received prior service credit with IMRF for years you did not participate in Social Security.
In the case above, Social Security would consider a portion of your IMRF pension to be "from a job not covered by Social Security" and reduce its benefit. Social Security will not reduce your benefit if you have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security.
Speaking With Social Security Representatives
Although you are entitled to both IMRF and Social Security, you may hear differently when speaking with someone from Social Security. When you talk with a Social Security representative, it is important that you know the benefits you are entitled to because there has been considerable confusion about this issue.
Tell the Social Security representative:
- You and IMRF participate in Social Security through an agreement between the State of Illinois and the Social Security Administration under Section 218 of the Social Security Act.
- You made full contributions in Social Security since you began employment or since your employer joined IMRF, whichever occurred first.
If the representative still insists your benefit will be reduced:
- Write down his or her name.
- Request to speak with the assistant manager of your local office. Also write down his or her name.
- If the assistant manager has not cleared up the matter, call your IMRF Field Representative. IMRF can provide a letter you can share with the Social Security office that explains why there should be no offset.
After you receive your first Social Security check, call your local office and ask how the amount was calculated. Make sure it was not reduced. If it was, contact Social Security to have them correct their mistake.
Why Does This Mix-Up Happen?
Much of the mix-up stems from the fact that many Illinois public pension plans, such as the Teacher’s Retirement System, do not contribute to Social Security. Therefore, public sector employees who participated in those state pension plans did not contribute to Social Security, and will receive a reduced Social Security benefit. However, this is not the case with IMRF.
Reciprocal Retirement May Affect Social Security
Although IMRF has no impact on your Social Security, if you earned part of your pension through a reciprocal system, the pension you receive from that system may affect your Social Security. You need to check with your reciprocal system(s) to determine if the benefits you receive from them will affect your Social Security benefits.