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 Case UPDATE
On October 8, 2014, there was a court hearing in Sangamon County to review the status of the pension case. At the hearing, the judge agreed to hear the ISEA-R argument that the defense presented by the State is not a valid defense in this case. The State has alleged it is a defense based on the “reserved sovereign powers.” That argument basically means the state can do things it isn’t allowed to do under the Constitution if there is a really good reason to do it. The State’s argument is that “reserved sovereign powers” trump the Constitution because of the state’s ongoing fiscal concerns. The court will hear those arguments on Thursday, November 20, 2014.
September 8, 2014
In the health care case…
The state has been ordered to STOP deducting health insurance premiums from retiree pension checks going out October 1 and later. The state must also return the insurance premiums retirees have been paying since July 1, 2013 – but working out a system for retirees to recover what they are due will take months. The next hearing is scheduled for November 21, 2014. At that time, the state is expected to have a plan to return the funds.
In the pension reform case…
As a result of a hearing on September 4, this case is moving much faster. New motions to eliminate the state’s police powers defense have been filed. The sharply worded Kanerva opinion caused the Sangamon County judge to put discovery, also known as evidence gathering, on hold. The State has until October 3 to file a response, but if the plaintiffs are successful, the State’s defense will be severely crippled and we could see an expedited ruling by the end of this year. The parties will be back in court on October 8 to determine what happens next.
August 28, 2014
Judge Nardulli this afternoon STOPPED the 1-2 percent deductions - effective immediately - as soon as the State can make these changes!!!
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.
Update July 22, 2014
The status hearing before Judge Belz today was brief. The attorneys for the Attorney General reported that they will provide information about experts, witnesses and information that the witnesses will provide by July 29. July 29 is the court ordered deadline for that information. The AG attorneys indicated that they are adding one witness, Jessica Basham. Jessica is the House Democratic Director of Research & Appropriations. She took the spot vacated by John Lowder when he left in December 2012. Don Craven did inform the Judge that he intended to file pleadings that would give the Judge another opportunity to rule on the pleadings. The Judge had previously indicated that he did not want to decide the case in that manner. However, that was before the Kanerva decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. The Judge said nothing in response to Don Craven. The best spin on that exchange is that at least the Judge did not say no or otherwise discourage the filing of such pleadings. The next status hearing is set for Thursday, September 4 at 1:30.
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
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:
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.
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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