Human Resources is encouraging faculty and staff members to contact the State University Retirement System (SURS), if they are interested in purchasing prior service.

For those who retire from the SURS system, monthly pension benefits and, in some cases, the cost of retiree health insurance may be impacted by the years of service during which an employee paid into SURS.

According to Cathy Hempstead, a retirement consultant with Human Resources, all Illinois State employees who are hired on a permanent and on-going basis – usually described as an appointment intended to last four months or more – are considered eligible to participate in SURS, and are automatically enrolled. Employees may purchase previously ineligible time served at any SURS-participating state university or community college, if they worked at least 50 percent “full time equivalency.” Other purchasable time is outlined here.

“Although very often student jobs do not amount to 50 percent employment (FTE), in the event students were very industrious and worked on average more than 20 hours per week, that time may be eligible for purchase,” said Hempstead. “Also, graduate assistant appointments, extra help work, short-term appointments, and/or multiple, overlapping positions may more easily reach 50 percent FTE, which would make that time eligible for purchase.”

Even if employees are not ready to purchase service credit, Hempstead noted it is a good idea to have the previous service time certified by SURS sooner rather than later to avoid unnecessary delays at retirement. Those who qualify and purchase prior service time may be eligible to retire earlier and/or receive a higher monthly pension benefit.

Hempstead urges employees who think they may be eligible to purchase prior service to contact SURS, adding that those who contact SURS will incur no obligation by initiating this process. Contact SURS at 800-275-7877 with questions or to initiate your purchase of prior service time.