November 9, 2015

SURS Will Pay Annuitants Despite Lack of State Budget

By Christy Levy, UIC News

ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER Leslie Munger announced Oct. 14 that the State would likely delay its pension payments in November and December, but University annuitants will still receive their payments from the State Universities Retirement System.

THE DELAY would mean that SURS will receive its money from the State later than promised, but SURS will continue to pay University retirees, said Brenda Russell, President of UIC-SUAA, the UIC chapter of the State Universities Annuitants Association.

“THE STATE will delay the money because there’s no budget, but they have to move the money eventually,” said Russell, Professor Emerita of physiology and biophysics. “SURS benefit payments are not tied to that transfer — SURS has their own money in their accounts. People are really worried that they are not going to get their pension, but they will.”

SURS HAS a safety net of funds to make sure university retirees are paid on time, Russell said.

“THE ONE who is getting shorted is the SURS agency,” she said. “It’s the same situation for the University — the State is not paying the University but the University is still paying its employees.”

THE STATE may delay payments to pension agencies such as SURS, but it is required by law to pay its pension obligations without making cuts. The Illinois Supreme Court in May unanimously declared unconstitutional a 2013 State pension law that would have diminished employee benefits.

“THE STATE is spending at a faster rate than they’re taking in — you don’t need to be an economist or mathematician to know they can’t do that,” Russell said. “This is a crisis and everyone should be contacting their House representatives and State senators and Governor Bruce Rauner and saying, ‘Do something.’ People are worried and they should be. They need to lean on the politicians.”

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