In light of the imminent start date of P.A. 98-599, SURS staff is doing all it can to provide the most comprehensive pension reform information for members.
Website - SURS website has a dedicated page on pension reform education that includes a synopsis of the bill, a pension reform video presentation, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a retirement plan comparison chart, the Money Purchase Factor Fact Sheet, links to the bill and the General Assembly votes, information on the legal challenges to the bill, and webinar information.
Visits to the SURS website are up 36% from the same time last year, with most viewers seeking pension reform information.
Phone Calls – SURS call center has experienced a 40% increase in the number of calls from the same time last year. Most callers are very concerned about their retirement benefits. The calls are longer, more frequent, and more intense, as members try to understand how P.A. 98-599 changes will affect them personally.
Webinar presentations – Initially, SURS scheduled four pension reform webinars, but demand was so high, three of the sessions quickly filled to capacity – with over 500 attending each session. Two more webinars have been added in April and more may be added depending on continued interest. The webinars are free of charge, but members must register.
Webinar Video - SURS has posted a video of the March 18 webinar that can be viewed at any time by members. Webinars can be accessed through the Pension Reform page on the SURS website. To date, over 325 people have viewed the presentation.
On-campus Presentations – SURS outreach department is conducting 75 on-campus pension reform presentations for members. All universities and community colleges in the SURS system were contacted and offered on-campus presentations by SURS staff. Almost all have taken advantage of the offer.
SURS estimates over 8,500 members will attend the pension reform presentations. Email blasts were sent to over 40,000 Tier 1 members announcing the on-campus presentations and webinars. Members should contact their HR Departments for times and locations.
On-campus Counseling Sessions – In conjunction with the on-campus presentations, SURS will also have counselors available for one-to-one retirement counseling sessions. Over 70 sessions are scheduled.
One-to-One Retirement Counseling Appointments – SURS has increased the number of individual counseling sessions to the maximum, and those sessions are now full through mid-June.
Normally, SURS schedules approximately 3,500 individual counseling sessions per year. This year, from January through June, counselors will conduct 4,200 sessions.
Group counseling appointments – In an effort to counsel as many members as possible, SURS has added group retirement sessions. Counselors speak to 20 members and their spouses at a time during two-hour meetings at the Champaign office.
In the course of the 27 scheduled group sessions, SURS will be able to counsel an additional 540 members.
Written Estimates – Members may request a written estimate rather than attend a counseling session. Working together, the Outreach and Member Services staffs have doubled the number of written estimates completed from the same time last year.
Online Interim Benefit Estimator – The Interim Benefit Estimator is available by logging onto the SURS Member Website. This valuable tool enables members to calculate what their retirement benefit would be if they retire on or before June 30, 2014, compared to retiring on July 1, 2014. This is one of SURS most popular and useful tools.
Employer Education – In addition to member education, SURS is working closely with the 65 affected universities and community colleges to help them understand and implement the day-to-day applications of the law, including payroll deductions, contract deadlines, and salary caps.
P.A. 98-599 will go into effect on June 1, 2014, unless the courts grant a stay. Both SURS and its employers must be prepared to implement the mandatory changes correctly.