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Warning! Many SERS members have recently received unsolicited, potentially misleading emails from companies not affiliated with SERS offering retirement counseling. These emails may appear to come from SERS or appear to represent SERS, they do not. SERS encourages members to be cautious of email solicitations and skeptical of any attempts by outside firms to request personal or financial information. SERS will NEVER contact you asking for personal information. If you are within a year of retirement and need an appointment, you can request an appointment by emailing or by calling (217) 785-7444.

JRS Tier 1 Survivor/Death Benefits

First Survivor Annuity Payment

In the event of your death, your beneficiaries must notify JRS and provide a copy of the death certificate. A survivor benefit packet will be provided to the eligible survivors and benefits will be processed once all the required documentation is received. JRS will process the first annuity payment retroactive to the first of the month following the member’s death. We make every effort to process the first annuity payment as soon as possible.

The first survivor annuity payment is mailed directly to your home from the Comptroller’s Office. JRS will send the survivor’s benefit approval letter containing information about the survivor annuity and a fact sheet explaining the taxation of the annuity.

Future Survivor Annuity Payments

Future annuity payments are issued on the 19th of each month, unless the 19th is on a weekend or holiday. Then they are mailed or deposited on the last working day before the 19th.

Benefit recipients who do not have direct deposit will have their payment mailed directly to their home address. Because the Comptroller’s Office has a 30-day waiting period for lost checks, members are strongly advised to sign up for direct deposit to avoid payment delays. If you don’t receive it in the allotted time, contact our office. Failure to advise JRS of an address change can result in a payment delay.


If a surviving spouse remarries, that does not cause the benefit to cease. A child’s annuity terminates when the child marries, reaches age 18 or age 22 if they remain a full-time student. Disabled adult children who receive a child’s annuity continue to receive benefits until marriage, no longer disabled, or become gainfully employed. Gainful employment is defined as receiving gross earnings for personal services (fees, wages, salary, commissions, and similar items) which exceed the poverty level income published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This gainful employment limitation applies during any period a child's annuity benefit is claimed or paid.

Increases for Survivors

Survivors who receive a JRS monthly annuity due to the death of an active judge receive a 3% increase on January 1 following one full year of annuity payments. Future increases of 3% of your current annuity are compounded and will be granted each January 1 thereafter.

If you are receiving a monthly annuity due to the death of a retired judge, you will receive a 3% increase on January 1 following the effective date of your benefit. Future increases of 3% of your current annuity are compounded and will be granted each January 1 thereafter.

Direct Deposit

A direct deposit form is included in your survivor benefit packet. If you choose direct deposit, your financial institution must complete the lower portion of the form before returning it to JRS. You may also fax the form to JRS at (217) 524-9039.

Your first survivor annuity is always mailed to your home address. If you elect direct deposit, all payments after the initial one will be deposited into your bank account.

Taxation of Survivor Annuity Payments

Judges’ Retirement System survivor benefits are exempt from Illinois income tax but are subject to federal tax. When you apply for benefits, a W-4P federal withholding form is part of your survivor benefit packet.

The W-4P form lets you designate the amount of taxes withheld from your annuity or opt out of having taxes withheld. If the W-4P form is not completed, taxes will be withheld using the filing status of married with three exemptions. You can change your withholding at any time by submitting a revised W-4P form to JRS. The form is available under the Forms link on the JRS website and in your online Member Services account.

The Comptroller’s Office issues a 1099-R by January 31 of each year which shows the annuity amount you received for the past year, the taxable portion, and any federal or state income tax withheld.