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GARS members have recently been targeted by a variety of phishing scams, including emails, phone calls, and text messages that attempt to impersonate or imply affiliation with GARS.

The fraudulent emails may provide links, including DocuSign, and allege to provide the member with the option to sign up and receive their monthly GARS benefit payments four days early by providing personal financial information, including bank account information.  GARS does not offer an early benefit payment option or request personal or banking information by email or use of DocuSign.  Please note that our emails are always sent from an email address.

Phone calls and Text messages
Several members have recently reported receiving unsolicited phone calls and text messages from individuals claiming to be associated with GARS.  These individuals initially contact the member by phone call or text message and attempt to set up counseling appointments with the member, generally through a follow-up email and/or text message.  These phone calls have been received on State landlines and State issued cell phones.  GARS does not contract with anyone outside of the agency to contact members about retirement counseling appointments or other financial services. GARS does not cold call members for retirement consultations, and only schedules retirement counseling appointments at the request of the member.

If you receive a suspicious email, call, or text message that purports to be GARS that you suspect is a scam, please report this activity to the GARS call center at 217-785-7444. Information that you provide can help GARS prevent and detect schemes that impact our members. 

Glossary of Terms

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Accumulated Contributions: The total contributions made by the member.

Annuity: Monthly recurring benefits payable to a retiree or survivor.

Annuitant: Any retired member or survivor receiving a GARS benefit.

Annual Annuity Increase (Tier 1): A 3% pension increase on January 1 or July 1 whenever occurs first following the first full year of retirement and age 60. These annual increases are compounded on the previous year’s annuity. The annual annuity increases are not limited by the 85% limitation.

Annual AnnuityIncrease (Tier 2): At age 67 or over, you will receive an increase of 3% or the full increase in the Consumer Price Index on January 1 or July 1 following your first full year of retirement. The annual increase is compounded on your previous year's annuity. Annual annuity increases are not limited to the 60% limitation.


Beneficiary: The beneficiary designated by the member to receive GARS lump sum death benefits. This should not be confused with the Group Life Insurance beneficiary or the Deferred Compensation beneficiary.

Benefit Statement: The annual benefit statement summarizes the member's personal account and benefits. It includes service credit, projected and accrued retirement benefits, disability and death benefits, and lists the member's beneficiaries. The statement is published to the member’s secure online account (SRS Member Services).

Board of Trustees: The Board created to direct the affairs of GARS.


Credited Service: The total service credited to a member's account.


Defined Benefit Plan: A plan which provides a monthly annuity amount based on formula that considers the member's combining service credit and salary records.

Direct Deposit: By enrolling in Direct Deposit, the retiree/survivor's benefit is electronically deposited into their bank account.


Final Average Compensation Tier 1: For those who became members prior to 8/10/09, benefits are determined based on their final salary and total credited service. For participants who became members between 8/10/09 through 12/31/10, benefits are determined based on the average of the highest 48 consecutive months over the last 120 months of service.

Final Average Compensation Tier 2: Final average salary is the average of the 96 highest consecutive months of service within the last 120 months of service, subject to the Tier 2 annual salary maximum as determined by the Department of Insurance.


Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS): The laws of the State of Illinois arranged in a numerical order that classifies the laws by their subject matter. ILCS numbers are used to cite laws in documents. GARS is primarily governed by 40 ILCS 5/2, et al.

IRS Form 1099-R: The annual tax form issued by the Office of the Comptroller that lists gross contributions, taxable & nontaxable amounts, and federal withholding.


Maximum Annuity Tier 1: The maximum base retirement annuity payable to a Tier 1 GARS participant, is 85% of the Final salary as a GARS participant. 

Maximum Annuity Tier 2: For a Tier 2 GARS participant with a membership date on or after January 1, 2011, the maximum base annuity payable is 60% of the member's Final Average Compensation.

Member: An active Legislator or Constitutional Officer, or any former Legislator or Constitutional Officer, who has contributions credited to their account but has not received a refund, or is not receiving a retirement annuity.

Member Handbook: Provides a general explanation of GARS benefits. It is intended to serve as a supplement to the annual Benefit Statement, which includes a member's personal information.

Military Service: Service in the United States Armed Forces may qualify as optional service credit that can be purchased.


Optional Service Credit: Time served while not a member of GARS that can be purchased for additional service.


Pension: Monthly benefit paid to a retiree for life.


Qualified Plan: A retirement plan qualified under the Internal Revenue Code allowing GARS and its members certain tax advantages.

QILDRO: The Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order (QILDRO) allows for the division of a retirement benefit, lump-sum death benefit, or a refund of contributions due to divorce.

Qualified Survivor: A spouse, child, or dependent parent designated by statute to receive a monthly annuity upon the death of the member.


Reciprocal Retirement Systems: There are thirteen Illinois public retirement systems participating in the Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act.

Reciprocity: A member who has at least one year of credited service in one of the thirteen Illinois Public Retirement Systems participating in the Reciprocal Act. Service under that system may be used when determining eligibility for a benefit from GARS. Additionally, the pensionable earnings credited during your service under GARS shall be used to calculate the member’s retirement annuity under the other reciprocal system(s).

Rollover: Postponing taxation of distributions by "rolling-over" the payment to another plan, or to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).


Service Credit: Time served with GARS. Service credit is part of the equation used to calculate GARS

Solon: The GARS newsletter for retirees and survivors that contained timely and pertinent information and was published to the website in January and August.

Survivor Annuity: A monthly benefit payable upon the death of a participant, to a qualified survivor.


Tax-Deferred: Contributions made by a participant, that are not taxed until a benefit is paid.

TDD: Telecommunication Device for the Deaf. A means for our disabled members to communicate with our office.

Term of Office: Length of time elected for that particular office.

Tier 1: A member of the General Assembly Retirement System who was first elected or appointed prior to January 1, 2011.

Tier 2: A member of the General Assembly Retirement System who was first elected or appointed on or after January 1, 2011.


W-4P Form: This form is used to designate federal income tax withholding.

Withdrawal: Severance of employment of a Legislator or Constitutional Officer by resignation or dismissal.