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.
Pension Reform Law Struck Down by Springfield Judge
On November 21, 2014, the pension reform law climbed another step closer to the Illinois Supreme Court. Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Belz agreed with arguments by ISEA-R and others and declared the law unconstitutional. In a six-page ruling, Belz determined that the State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees. The state’s inability to pay the pensions promised to its employees should not become the problem of those employees. They are still owed their benefits, and the state must find a way to pay for them.
Belz disagreed with the state’s argument that pension benefits can be changed because the state’s fiscal condition qualifies as an emergency and enables the state to do things it is not ordinarily allowed to do under the Constitution. Belz ruled that the state presented an invalid defense. Belz explained that pension benefits must be protected and there are no allowable exceptions.
In a separate case earlier this year, Kanerva v. Weems, the IL Supreme Court ruled retiree health care benefits are constitutionally protected, even though they aren’t specifically mentioned in the Constitution’s pension clause. By extension, ISEA-R is hopeful that pension benefits, including the 3% compounded automatic annual increases (AAIs), will receive the same protection.
IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. She indicated she will also ask the court to expedite the appeal of the pension case. ISEA-R has hired a very respected appellate attorney, Mike Reagan, to represent us in that appeal.
Kanerva -Health Care Lawsuit- Update
As of October, health insurance premiums are no longer being deducted from pension checks. On November 22, the state and attorneys for retirees met in court for a status conference. The parties continue to work on logistics and a timeline to reimburse retirees for health insurance premiums wrongfully taken by the state since July 2013. More than 100,000 retirees are due refunds after the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a law that sought to eliminate the fully subsidized premiums earned by retirees. The next hearing to finalize the payment schedule and to get all the necessary documentation in order is scheduled for December 18, 2014.
Supreme Court Ruling Update
By this time, most of you have heard or read about the Kanerva decision of the Illinois Supreme Court. ISEA-R was not a party to the case, but we did financially support the legal cost in the case. Therefore ISEA-R and its members should share in claiming credit for the very favorable ruling of the court.
The Supreme Court ruled that the promised health care for retirees without cost to the retirees is a pension right protected by the Illinois Constitution. Further the court ruled that to require retirees to pay for their health care is a diminishment and impairment and therefore unconstitutional. The result is very good for retirees and provides a window into what the supreme court might do with cases in Sangamon County that object to the law that reduces the annual income adjustment.
However, the Kanerva case is far from over. The Supreme Court will return the case to Sangamon County for further proceedings. The process in Sangamon County could take several months. We expect that withholding from pension payments will continue unless ordered by the court. The good news is that all of the funds that have been withheld each month have been deposited into a special account. Therefore when the court orders the withholding to stop and the refunds to issue, there is no issue as to the availability of the money.
ISEA-R is proud to have been a part of this very important decision, but it is just one skirmish in an ongoing fight. We continue to battle to protect the interest of our members and retirees as the Kanerva case and the pension case continues.
On January 3, 2014, ISEAR filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Court that challenged the constitutionality of the Pension Reform Act. That lawsuit is called Illinois State Employees Association Retirees vs the Board of Trustees of the State Employees Retirement System, et al and is case number 2014 CH 3.
On May 14, 2014 a Sangamon County Judge stopped the Pension Reform Act from going into effect on July 1, 2014. The Illinois Supreme Court previously consolidated four other similar lawsuits to Sangamon County joining the lawsuit filed by ISEAR, which in essence challenges the changing of the 3% automatic annual increase as a violation of contractual law and the Illinois constitution. The temporary injunction issued by the Sangamon County Judge only prevents the Pension Reform Act from going into effect on July 1 until the case is finalized in his court.
In addition to our own pension lawsuit, ISEAR contributed funds to help defray attorney’s fees in the case entitled Kanerva v Weems. On July 3rd the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that state retirees’ health insurance is a pension benefit that cannot be diminished or impaired by the Illinois General Assembly. While that is just a preliminary ruling in the case, it greatly increases the chances that state retirees will not have to pay toward health insurance, which is what most state retirees believe they had been promised all along.
The Board understands that the assaults upon State Retirees’ benefits are unprecedented and, if successful, will financially impact retirees and their survivors for decades. The stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Our constitutional guarantee for our pension is just too important. For those reasons, the Board has established a special fund within ISEAR to accept contributions to help with the costs of this legal battle.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
May 14, 2014
Today, a Sangamon County Circuit Judge ordered that the Pension Reform Act, sometimes referred to as Senate Bill 1, is to be stayed during the pendency of the lawsuit. Five lawsuits have been filed by various Plaintiffs. Those lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the Pension Reform Act. The Supreme Court consolidated all five actions to the Circuit Court in Sangamon County. The Judge's decision today means that the bill will not go into effect until the Judge makes a final decision on the issues of the lawsuits. The decision of the Judge is to maintain the status quo before Senate Bill 1 became law.
Please see the link to a press release released on December 20, 2013 by ISEA Retirees director Rudy J. Kink, Jr. regarding ISEA Retirees litigation on behalf of Retired State Employees against the new pension reform passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Quinn.
The Supreme court has agreed with our motion to consolidate all the retiree cases to Sangamon County. This is great News!
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.
Medicare Advantage Information
Medicare-eligible retirees and survivors have received information regarding the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Enrollment Period. The informational kits are mailed to Medicare retirees enrolled in the State Employees Group Insurance Program, the Teachers’ Retirement Program (TRIP) and the College Insurance Program (CIP).
The TRAIL Open Enrollment Period is Oct. 15th thru Nov. 15, 2014. Informational Seminars will be held through out the State of Illinois to give retirees and survivors who are newly eligible for the Trail Program, as well as members currently enrolled in one of the Medicare Advantage Plans, a chance to hear information on the health plans being offered for the 2015 plan year. The seminars will begin Oct. 14th and go through Nov. 3rd. You may go online to www.cms.illinois.gov./thetrail to check the dates, times and locations for your area.
The health plans being offered for the new plan year include: UnitedHealthcare PPO, Humana HMO, Coventry Advantra HMO and Health Alliance MAPD HMO. These plans will have the TRAIL logo on them.
The fall 2014 TRAIL enrollment materials have been posted to the TRAIL website www.cms.illinois.gov./thetrail. Members with questions regarding the TRAIL Open Enrollment Period may call the TRAIL Call Center (8:30-4:00) Monday thru Friday. The TRAIL Call Center can be reached at: (800) 610-2091. Or you may call our office (217) 698-6070 and we will be happy to assist you.
If the member has a dependent on his/her coverage who is not enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, the member will not be included in the group of members set to be offered a Medicare Advantage plan. The member and dependents will all remain in the current health plan.
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.
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.
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.
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 been the 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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