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SERS 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 SERS.

The fraudulent emails may provide links, including DocuSign, and allege to provide the member with the option to sign up and receive their monthly SERS benefit payments four days early by providing personal financial information, including bank account information.  SERS 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 SERS.  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.  SERS does not contract with anyone outside of the agency to contact members about retirement counseling appointments or other financial services. SERS 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 SERS that you suspect is a scam, please report this activity to the SERS call center at 217-785-7444. Information that you provide can help SERS prevent and detect schemes that impact our members. 

Tier 1 Optional Service Credit

When hired, you become a member of SERS and mandatory contributions are automatically credited to your account. As a SERS contributing member, you may elect to purchase optional service credit.

NOTE: All optional credit must be purchased prior to retirement.

There are several different types of optional service.

Qualifying Periods

  • A qualifying period is the time a state employee may have served before becoming a SERS contributing member. This includes the 12 months of employment before becoming a member prior to January 1, 1972, or 6 months for a person entering state service from January 1, 1984 through November 30, 2010.

Short Periods

  • Short periods are intermittent periods of service not exceeding the qualifying period time when no retirement deductions were taken.

Leave of Absence

  • Leaves of absence are periods of less than one year spent on an authorized leave of absence, provided the period of leave began on or after January 1, 1982. A member may also establish service credit for more than one authorized leave of absence. The total period of service established can then exceed one year.

Repayment of a Refund

  • Repayment of a refund if you terminated state employment, and received a refund of your contributions, and were later rehired, you may reestablish your credited service by repaying the refund with interest after completing at least two additional years of credited service with SERS or any of the Reciprocal Retirement Systems that participate in the Retirement Systems' Reciprocal Act. (list of Reciprocal Systems) A person who has met the two year requirement may also purchase a portion of the refund. If part of the refund is repaid, the member may repay additional whole months of the remaining portion if they choose.

Military Service

Military service includes active duty in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or any of the women's auxiliaries.

SERS grants two types of military service credit:

1. Free credit with no contributions if ALL the following conditions are met:

  • The member was a state employee within 6 months immediately before entering military service.
  • The member returns as a state employee within 15 months after honorable discharge.
  • The member establishes creditable state service immediately before and after military service.

2.Paid credit, with contributions.

If an employee does not qualify for free military service credit, (s)he may purchase up to 48 months of military credit for active duty by paying the required employee and employer contributions, plus interest, provided:

  • The employee was not dishonorably discharged
  • The service credit purchased does not exceed five years, when added to the military service granted under Item 1 listed above.

Interest is calculated from the date the employee last became a member of SERS or November 19, 1991, whichever is later.

Tax-Deferring Optional Service Purchases

SERS allows members to tax-defer optional service credit purchases through payroll deduction. This lets members defer taxation until they retire. The tax-deferred withholding is made through an irrevocable payroll agreement for the total service credit purchase amount. SERS members may also transfer funds from their Deferred Compensation account to purchase permissive service credit or repay a refund.

Service credit is granted only after a refund or service purchase is paid in full. If the member dies, a partial service credit may be granted based on contributions and interest paid on the date of death.

In the case of retirement, termination or absences of more than one year, the member can choose to make an after-tax lump sum payment for the balance due, or the contributed amount can be refunded with taxes withheld and reported as income in that calendar year. Any after-tax lump sum payment must be made no later than 30 days after the member has been notified by SERS of the amount due.

Lump Sum Salary Payments

Most employees will receive a lump sum payment at retirement for unused sick days earned between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1997, and all vacation days. This lump sum payment can be used to purchase any tax-deferred optional service credit. This election must be completed before the member leaves state service.


You may rollover money from another qualified pension plan, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), 403b or 457 containing money from a qualified total distribution to purchase optional service credit or repay a refund. To do so, you must obtain and complete a Transfer/Rollover Certification Form.

To inquire about the cost to establish additional service credit you may submit a request on your Member Services account. For instructions on submitting a request, see the Optional Service Purchase Fact Sheet.