Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,
In this article (which is a reprint of the March 7 HWC Local 1600 newsletter, as I promised many of you, I am going to synthesize key retirement information and make important announcements about elections happening right now for local officer positions and the CCCTU leadership positions. There will be a second newsletter this month with more chapter news (like upcoming Contract review sessions) and articles from other contributing writers.
First of all, thank you all who participated in our successful Retirement Workshop held on Tuesday, February 28th. I want to give a special note of gratitude to Brenda Pryor, CCCTU Legal Counsel and Don Radtke, CCCTU Retiree Chapter Chair and former CCCTU Treasurer. They did an excellent job of fielding questions and guiding members through the process, which is not easy. I hope we can have two of these workshops every year, each before union members announce their intent to retire, by March 15 or October 15.
I am adding an early disclaimer, and that is if you want to get the most correct individual information for your case, you have to make an appointment with SURS with a specific representative or make a face-to-face appointment; ask the agent where the monthly face-to-face meetings are being held, which are held in the suburbs. You can call SURS at 1-800-275-7877. Also, you can visit http://surs.com. Decisions regarding retirement should be made by individual members after consulting with SURS for the most up to date information.
As of today, there is new head of benefits, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and carbon copy Sara Nau at email@example.com. If no one replies, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can try to contact Jane Barnes at District to answer general questions. Here is the information I gleaned from the workshop.
Where can I find a SURS Tradition Plan Member Guide?
When am I eligible to receive a SURS retirement annuity? When you satisfy any of the following:
- You are at least age 55 and have 8 or more years of Illinois service (benefits will be reduced for early retirement if you retire between ages 55 and 60)
- You are at least age 62 and have 5 or more years of service; or
- At any age when you achieve 30 years of service, provided your covered employment terminated on or after August 2, 2002
Where can I find information in the Union Contract about retirement?: Faculty Contract, pgs. 21-24 or Professional Contract, pgs. 8-11.
How do I announce my intent to retire? You must write a letter to your department chair or supervisor, local Human Resources, the college President, and District Human Resources.
By when should I announce my intent to retire? October 15 if you wish to retire by fall or March 15 to retire by spring or summer. You should notify the administration as soon as possible, especially in the context of the staffing situation with administration.
Once I write and submit the letter of intent to retire, can I retract that decision? No.
Does any faculty or professional qualify? You must have been employed by CCC for at least 10 years working full-time. In addition, the Enhancement Benefit requires an age of 55 years or older.
What are the Benefits of Early Retirement? After retirement, you can receive 6 years of Life Insurance and 10 years of Health Insurance for yourself and dependents at the CCCTU Contract rate. After your 10 years, your Health Insurance can be obtained at the full cost from CCC. Continuing with CCC Insurance can help retirees who are not Medicare eligible. If you are Medicare eligible, a Medicare Supplement can be obtained at a lower cost than CCC Insurance coverage.
Can the Union help calculate my pension, enhancement, and/or service credit? No. Every person’s case is unique. You must do the calculations by yourself or use the SURS calculator as an estimate and/or speak to a SURS representative.
How is my SURS Pension Computed? The average of your 4 Highest Consecutive Annual Earnings x 2.2% x Service Credit Years.
How do I maximize my pension?
- Work as much overtime as possible in your last 4 years so plan your retirement in advance.
- If you are faculty, retire at the end of summer. A SURS Earnings Year begins on the first day of Fall Semester and the 12 months following. Your last year can be your highest.
- Apply for your Contractual Enhancement Benefit see below.
Do I have Retirement Benefits in my CCCTU Contract in addition to my SURS pension? Yes, the Early Retirement Program and Retiree Salary Enhancement.
What are the Benefits of the Retiree Salary Enhancement? In your last two years before retirement, you can use some of your sick days to increase your base salary and net pay. In addition, the enhanced salary could increase your SURS Earnings Average.
How do I calculate service credit? Your sick days not used for enhancement can be used as a Service Credit Year for your SURS Pension as follows:
(No sick day payout is allowed passed July 1, 2014)
Unpaid Sick Days:
20 – 59 Days = 1/4 Year
60 – 119 Days = 1/2 Year
120 – 179 Days = 3/4 Year
180 or more Days = 1 Year
How do I compute the enhancement? Your base salary would be increased by 30% of 80% of a maximum 100 sick days for one or two years. Example: 100 sick days x 30% x 80% equals 24 sick days for enhancement. If your annual salary is $90,000 for 36 weeks or 180 days, each day is worth $500 x 24 enhancement days which equals $12,000 added to your base salary giving you more net pay.
Can retirees still receive sick pay out?No. Unfortunately, as of July 1, 2014, that is no longer the case. Sick days are capped at 200.
Will these Contractual Benefits be in the next contract? Maybe
I hope this information is useful. Again, please, contact SURS and make an appointment with a specific agent. If you are retiring, you are also highly encouraged to join the retiree chapter: Contact Don Radtke at email@example.com. It’s to your benefit to join, as the retiree chapter is on the frontlines, defending everyone’s pension rights.
Jesú Estrada, Chapter Chair