Welcome to The Illinois State
Our Mission Statement
The Association is constituted to promote the welfare of public employees who have retired from service with the State of Illinois in all ways compatible with the public interest and to support and promote improvements in the public employee’s retirement systems of Illinois.
Retirement is when you spend less time worrying and more time enjoying
the “golden years”. ISEA Retirees can help eliminate your
worries by letting you discuss them with a live person rather than a
machine each weekday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. We can help eliminate
tax and retirement issues, insurance problems, long-term care questions
and rates, home safety with security systems and even help you get fresh
hearing aid batteries at blue light special prices. Our staff pledges
to help make your retirement truly a pleasant one.
On Tuesday, December 3, both the Senate and House of the Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield for a single day session. Although other business was considered, the major reason for this special session day was pension reform. A Conference Committee report to Senate Bill 1 was signed by 9 of the 10 members of the committee. That report was then considered by both the House and the Senate. Because of the conference committee format, the procedure for considering the report was a bit different that the usual passage of bills in the General Assembly. It allowed the House and the Senate to debate and vote on the report simultaneously. The result was that the legislation passed both the Senate (by a vote of 30 yes and 24 no) and the House (by a vote of 62 yes and 53 no). Because the bill is not immediately effective (it will become effective June 1, 2014), it only needed 30 votes in the Senate and 60 votes in the House. The Governor has promised to sign the bill as soon as it is delivered to him.
Our lobbyist, Tom Ryder, was one of the few selected to testify to the Conference Committee at a hearing held Tuesday morning. Ryder told the committee members that the bill treated retirees unfairly. He indicated that retirees had a contractual expectation that the rules in effect at the time of their retirement date would continue during the entirety of their retirement. Ryder expressed appreciation that the reform report allowed those receiving the smallest pensions to continue with the 3% annual compounding adjustment. He was critical of the change that penalized the remaining retirees by diminishing the annual adjustment. Finally, Ryder requested that the legislature and the Governor’s administration create an advisory panel of retirees so retirees could have a direct voice in the consideration of any proposed future changes in the retirement system.
It is generally acknowledged that the pension reform legislation will be challenged in the courts. The leadership of the Illinois State Employees Association-Retirees will be meeting in the next few days to determine the best pathway to participate in the challenge to the law and to continue the fight to protect the rights of our retiree members.
"We have been told by SERS that a woman by the name of Ashley Peel has been
Medicare Plan Information
CMS Medicare Advantage Information
CMS has posted an online video of their TRAIL presentation. Retirees have been finding these really helpful, and this will help ensure that those who are not able to attend still have access to the presentation. It’s also a great recap for anyone who needs it.
The TRAIL Seminar is an informative online video presentation explaining Medicare Advantage and TRAIL enrollment (viewable on PC or Mac, not on mobile devices at this time: http://www2.illinois.gov/CMS/EMPLOYEES/BENEFITS/TRAIL/Pages/TRAILSeminar.aspx.
It is also available through the main TRAIL site http://www2.illinois.gov/cms/Employees/benefits/trail/Pages/default.aspx and the CMS home page.
Medicare Advantage Information
The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has awarded contracts to the winning vendors of the following Medicare Advantage plan options for members of the State Employees Group Insurance Program:
The enrollment period for the Medicare Advantage plans has been set for November 12 through December 6, 2013. The effective date of the new plan will be February 1, 2014. In order to be included in the group who will be offered one of the Medicare Advantage plans, members must meet BOTH of the following criteria:
The Bureau of Benefits is working diligently on communication materials regarding the new State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plan, including an initial letter which will be mailed to all members in the coming days. Only those members who meet the criteria above will receive communications on these new plans and will need to take action regarding their health insurance coverage.
IMPORTANT: The federal Medicare enrollment period begins October 15th and concludes December 7th, 2013. That means non-State sponsored Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans are also sending information to our members during the same enrollment period that the State will be sending its Medicare Advantage plan information. In order for members to avoid mistakenly electing a non-State plan during this enrollment period and inadvertently losing their State of Illinois insurance coverage, members should only review information packets that have the State of Illinois retiree Medicare Advantage logo. Although the logo is not yet ready for the initial letter, it will be included on all future communications pieces both from the Department and from the selected vendors. In addition to these communications, the Department is developing a separate website for retirees which will be dedicated just to you.
Over the next two weeks the Central Management Services’ Bureau of Benefits staff will be:
After the initial letter is mailed to all affected State members, the Department of Central Management Services’ Bureau of Benefits will be sending additional communications and an enrollment packet prior to the November 12th enrollment start date. It is imperative that members complete the enrollment form completely, including the federally required RESIDENTIAL STREET ADDRESS section. Although many retirees use a post office box to receive their mail, federal Medicare requires a RESIDENTIAL STREET ADDRESS in addition to the post office box address.
How much will the new Medicare Advantage Plan cost?
Retirees under the State Employees Group Insurance Program will continue to pay the 1% of their annuity for the Medicare Advantage coverage. State retirees who have less than 20 years of service will also continue to be responsible for 5% of the health plan cost for every year less than 20. That being said, the premiums for the new Medicare Advantage plans will be less than the current health plans; therefore, members who have less than 20 years of service should see a decrease in the cost of their coverage. The dependent rate for state retirees will not change.
What happens to a member’s other State-offered plan benefits, like dental, vision and life insurance? Will a member still have them when changing to a Medicare Advantage plan?
Yes, members will continue to have the same dental, vision, and life plan benefits from the same plan administrators that they are currently enrolled.
Will a member be able to make changes to his/her coverage during the annual Benefit Choice Period held in May each year?
No. Retirees who become part of the State-sponsored Medicare Advantage group of members have a new annual enrollment period in the fall of each year to coincide with the federal Medicare calendar plan year. Although the effective date of coverage this year will be February 1st, future plan years will have an effective date of January 1st for any plan changes. Any plan changes that were allowed during the Benefit Choice Period held in May will now be allowed during the fall enrollment period instead.
Do the State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans include prescription coverage?
Yes, all of the Medicare Advantage plans being offered have prescription drug coverage included with no gap (i.e., donut hole).
Are there any special programs being offered through these Medicare Advantage plans?
Yes, each Medicare Advantage plan offers a variety of wellness/clinical programs, such as the Silver Sneakers® fitness program. Although the programs vary by health plan vendor, some examples include various wellness programs, disease management programs, case management programs, discount programs, medication therapy management and meal programs.
How will a member know which State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans will be offered in his/her Illinois county?
Once finalized, a map of the plans offered in each of the Illinois counties will be posted to the retiree benefits website and will be included in the State of Illinois enrollment kit.
What if I don’t make a change or send in an enrollment form?
Members who do not send a completed enrollment form to their retirement system by the due date of December 6th, will not be enrolled in one of the State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans, nor will they remain in their current health plan. These members will have original Medicare coverage only. If the member is a state retiree, they may enroll in a State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plan during a future fall enrollment period and would have coverage effective the following January.
When will members be given the plan design details for each of the State-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans being offered?
The plan design documents are being finalized for each type of plan and should be ready to post in the next few days. Once the documents are approved, they will be posted to this website. A map of the plans available in your county will also be posted.
Members are encouraged to check back to the CMS website and the retiree website (referenced above) often as information will be posted once it is known. The Department of Central Management Services, again, thanks you for your patience through this implementation process.
Members of the following group insurance programs must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B in order to be eligible for the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Program.
Members enrolled in any of the four group insurance programs administered by the State of Illinois are provided health and prescription drug benefits. Some programs offer additional benefits of vision, dental and life insurance coverage. The four groups include State employees and retired State employees; retired community college employees; retired Illinois teachers; and active employees and retired employees of Illinois' local governments. Use the CMS address - cms.il.gov to visit the Benefits Choice website for more information.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for general plan comparison only. While companies strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the information to be a perfect representation of benefits, nor can we guarantee accuracy of the premium amount shown. Licensed Medicare Supplement Insurance Specialists should be consulted for a detailed description of benefits and limitations.
Guaranteed Issue Rights or Medigap Protections (Information from the Medicare.gov website explaining rights one has in certain situations when insurance companies are required by law to sell or offer you a Medigap policy even if you have health problems (called "pre-existing conditions.").
To ISEA Retirees
Subject: ISEA Retirees to support Retiree’s case before Supreme Court
As the Executive Director of the Illinois State Employees Association Retirees, I have never seen a more frustrating time for our retirees.
On July 1, the State of Illinois begins imposition of health insurance premiums upon State of Illinois retirees. As I write this to you, the General Assembly is considering various proposals for drastic pension reform that will affect these same retirees.
Many retirees resent the unilateral denial in their retirement years of what they believed the State had previously promised them. Many others feel it is profoundly unfair for retirees to hear the financial consequences that resulted from legislators repeated failures to properly fund the pension systems, despite being told many times to do so. The state’s retiree’s pleas to the General Assembly for fairness seem to be falling on deaf ears.
The ISEA Retirees’ Board of Directors has carefully considered litigation on both the health insurance matter (that is already law) and on pension reform (should it become law). Our informal advisors tell us that our legal arguments are stronger on the pension reform matter than on health insurance costs. Due to the large costs of litigation, some consideration was given by the Board to use our limited funds for a potential pension reform lawsuit only rather than suits on both health insurance premiums and pension reform.
But the ISEA Retirees’ Board of Directors has determined that ISEA Retirees cannot remain on the sidelines any longer on the health insurance case. While our finances are insufficient to maintain our own case against the State of Illinois, the Board has decided to support the legal efforts of the retirees who filed in Sangamon County in the case of Kanerva v. Weems, Sangamon Co. Case No. 2012-MR-582. State of Illinois retirees in that particular suit have retired from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Many legal observers believe that it is probable if these retirees prevail in their case, all retirees will benefit from that court victory.
With other State of Illinois retirees’ law suits around the State, the Kanerva case was consolidated into one case in Sangamon County Circuit Court under the case name of Maag v. Quinn, Sangamon Co. Case No. 2012-L-162. Last month, all of the retirees’ cases were dismissed by a ruling that allows the State to assess retirees with the cost of health insurance. The Illinois Supreme Court has made a rare move by accepting a direct appeal of that dismissal decision.
By agreement with the Kanerva case retirees’ attorneys, ISEA Retirees is contributing to their cost of the appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court. ISEA Retirees will not be a party to that suit, but the attorneys will communicate with me as the ISEA Retirees Executive Director and keep me informed on the progress of that appeal. I will, likewise, keep our membership advised of the developments.
The ISEA Retirees Board is satisfied that while some legal interests of the Kanerva case retirees are different from some of our retirees, there are sufficient similar legal interests to warrant $5,000 financial support in the attempt to seek fairness from the Illinois Supreme Court in the treatment of State of Illinois retirees. Regardless of the odds of success, the alternative is to give up without a fight. In the Board’s review, the stakes are too high and the consequences are too long-term not to join the legal battle.
Spending your ISEA Retirees’ dues are decisions that are never made frivolously by your Board. Paying for legal efforts to protect retirees’ health insurance benefits is, in the Board’s opinion, a proper expenditure of the ISEA Retirees’ funds. While our accounts are not large, they are sufficient to cover this payment without any appeal for contributions from members.
If pension reform eventually becomes law (as has health insurance matters), ISEA Retirees’ Board of Directors will consider litigation options at that time.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Rudy J. Kink, Jr.
During former Governor Edgar's administration he gave all negotiating rights for health insurance to AFSCME because this union had more State employee members than the other unions. In addition, to keep from further complications (meaning reducing time spent with other State entities/departments) AFSCME health insurance negotiations would include everyone who worked for the State, including management, all other non-union employees, and in addition all State and university retirees.
Senate Bill 1313 (Public Act 097-0695) required all state retirees to pay part of their insurance premiums, even those with 20 or more years of service. This issue is being challenged in the court now.
ISEA Retirees and their Coalition (SUAA & RSEA) have been in meetings with Central Management Services to make sure that our concerns were heard.
The Coalition feels that the State retirees were not being represented correctly. It was our contention and it continues to be that the retirees should no longer be expected to be part of the negotiations for those who are actively working, those who are members of AFSCME. The number one reason is the inability for the retirees to vote on what has been negotiated for them. As it stands, those who vote on the retiree health insurance premium will be the working members of AFSCME. While the directive from Governor Edgar has been enforced since his administration, it is no longer reasonable for retirees to take a backseat or no seat during negotiations which compromise or make changes to their livelihood.
In 2009, the arbitrator involved in the lawsuit over the dental insurance "ruled that because retirees are not employees and therefore are not members of a bargaining unit, the grievance arbitration process is foreclosed to them and instead retirees and their survivors must consider other appropriate venues if they wish to challenge the Employer's actions in regard to their negotiated benefits contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement." We began working on being able to represent the retirees even if there was little to no change to the health insurance other than co-pays, deductibles and plans.
The Coalition has been working for a number of years now to resolve this injustice of lack of representation. Borrowing from an email that was received from a member in reference to the AFSCME negotiated new health insurance premiums - "although in a different form, in essence retirees are being subjected to "taxation without representation."
The three organizations have continued to write letters to leadership, have had face-to-face meetings with leadership, the Governor's office, along with other influential policymakers and as stated previously met with Central Management Services on many occasions. What has always been disconcerting and continues to be is the inability for legislators to understand the unfairness of retirees not being represented at the negotiating table regardless of their utilization of "free" health insurance.
As it stands, currently working union members will be voting on their negotiated contract over the next several weeks. Unfortunately, the retirees will not have the same opportunity to vote on their negotiated health insurance premiums.
At this time, there continues to be a lawsuit pending over the legality/constitutionality of eliminating the guarantee of affordable health care for retirees. The judge has given the parties "three weeks to submit statements setting forth the separate legal issues in the case to streamline possible appeals."
So as the health insurance situation continues to heat up it is not apparent as to what decision will be handed down. There are a number of conflicting thoughts, and regardless of how the judge rules in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, both sides have the right to appeal to the Appellate Court.
There will be many more questions as the health insurance issue evolves. At this time, the negotiated health insurance premiums must go before the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules and the lawsuits will continue to be heard.
As stated previously, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, along with additional health insurance exchanges cannot be ignored. ISEA will continue to advocate for retirees right to negotiate their health insurance plans and possibly the premiums if it is determined by the court that the premiums are to be paid.
( Thanks goes to the SUAA Executive Director, Linda Brookheart for her hard work for the IL Retiree and in sharing this information with us)
Illinois House members considers a vote on a series of state pension changes, including proposals to require higher employee contributions and eliminate retirement benefit increases.
A Madigan spokesman said the idea behind the amendments is to “get the discussion moving and try to control pension costs.”
These Bills would:
* End cost-of-living adjustments to pension benefits for anyone hired before Jan. 1, 2011. Presently retirees receive a 3 percent compounded COLA annually. Other pension proposals have called for limiting COLAs, but not eliminating them.
* COLAs could be eliminated until the pension systems achieve an 80 percent funding level. (the five state-funded pension systems now have a funding level of approximately 39 percent).
* The retirement age would be raised to 67 as the age which a person could collect full pension benefits.
* Working employees’ contributions to their pensions would be increased by 5 percent from their salary, not counting the amount presently paid by employees into the system.
Matter of Interest:
Late Claims Payments release time is currently 10 months for In-Network Providers and 14 months for Out of Network Providers, from the time the claim is processed.
As many of you are aware, there has been a lot of talk and criticism over the benefits State Employees receive upon retirement. This has beenthe reason for several committee meetings andproposed legislation to make changes in a retiree’s benefits.
The Retirees Coalition, made up of the Illinois State Employees Association Retirees (ISEA/R), the State University Annuitants Association (SUAA) and the Retired State Employees Association (RSEA) and their lobbyists, have attended each committee meeting to voice opposition to any change in benefits. The Coalition has held meetings with Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Christine Rodagno and House Minority Leader Tom Cross to discuss our position.
The Coalition plans additional meetings with these leaders as well as other legislative leaders in our effort to protect retiree’s benefits.
Coalition for Retirees Rights
From Left: Bill Curry, RSEA President; Linda Brookhart, SUAA Executive Director; Rudy J. Kink, Jr. ISEA/R Executive Director
State University Retirement System
Teachers Retirement System
State Employees Retirement System
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