Illinois Teachers Retirement Insurance Program


What Death Benefits Are Provided

Dave Urbanek, with Illinois’ teachers’ retirement system, discusses surge in teaching retirements

TRS pays two death benefits: a refund of your accumulated contributions and survivor benefits. Each benefit may be paid to separate beneficiaries or both benefits may be paid to the same beneficiaries. Your completed Beneficiary Designation form determines how death benefits are distributed. If we do not have a Beneficiary Designation form on file and no dependent beneficiary survives you, we will pay the death benefits to your estate.

You Participate In A Defined Benefit Plan

A government defined benefit plan is a traditional pension. It requires contributions from each active member and public employer to a commingled trust fund. That fund provides each member with a guaranteed lifetime annuity upon retirement, regardless of how much the member and employer contributed to the trust fund for that member. All active members, employers and investment income fund the benefit payments of retired employees. Members cannot outlive their benefits.

Access To Affordable Health Insurance

If youve seen how health care costs are rising in this country, its normal to feel a sense of worry when you consider how the cost could affect you and your family. Thankfully, Illinois offers its teachers access to affordable health insurance, assuaging the fears and worries of its public employees.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services administers all employee benefits to public school teachers, including health insurance. As a teacher, you can choose from the following plans to insure you and your loved ones:

Quality Care Health PlanThe QCHP offers the most comprehensive range of health benefits to teachers of any insurance plan. Through the QCHP, you can choose between any physician or hospital for medical services. However, you receive enhanced benefits and lower costs by obtaining care from in-network providers.

Health Maintenance Organization PlanIn the HMO plan, you must select a primary care physician from a network of providers to act as your health guide. Your primary care physician will direct all of your healthcare needs, from advice on hospital services to specialist referrals.

Open Access PlanThe Open Access Plan offers similar cost benefits of an HMO, with the coverage benefits of a traditional health insurance plan. In the Open Access Plan, youll have access to several tiers of coverage, allowing you to pick from in-network and out-of-network providers with differing costs.

  • Physician Visits

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What If Im Already Enrolled In A Trail Insurance Plan

You have two options:

  • If you want to make a change to your TRAIL insurance coverage or add a dependent, the fall Open Enrollment Period is the time when you can make that change.
  • If you want to maintain your current TRAIL coverage, you dont have to do anything. Your insurance coverage will automatically continue as it is in 2022.

Health Care Designed For Teachers

Retired Teachers in Illinois: Is TRS Really the Best Option?

Plan administrators can work with UnitedHealthcare to choose a plan for teachers and staff. Combining school districts knowledge of what is important to their teachers with UnitedHealthcares experience helps to make informed decisions and create tailored plans. Drawing on years of experience and thousands of employees served, experts use historical trends to guide health care plans.

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Local Plan Coverage Of A Retired Teachers Spouse After The Retirees Death

Note: When thinking about coverage, you should always consider the needs of your spouse and/or dependent children in the event that you should predecease them.

When it is time to enroll for coverage with your local community, you should ask your benefits coordinator several questions about the coverage of your spouse. Specifically, you should determine your local communitys policy regarding the coverage of your spouse in the event that you predecease him or her. Questions you should ask your local benefits coordinator include:

  • Can I enroll my spouse at the time that I enroll myself?
  • If I do not enroll my spouse now, can I enroll him or her at some point in the future?
  • Does my retirement option have any bearing on the eligibility of my spouse to enroll in health care insurance?
  • If I predecease my spouse and he or she is covered at the time of my death, can he or she continue coverage as a survivor?
  • If I predecease my spouse and he or she is not enrolled at the time of my death, can he or she enroll as a survivor?
  • How much will it cost my spouse for health care coverage?

Medicare As Your Primary Health Care Coverage

Once you become eligible to receive health care coverage through Medicare, you may be required to enroll in Medicare. program or under locally provided insurance , and on whether your municipality has accepted the provisions of M.G.L. c. 32B, § 18. Please check with your local benefits coordinator or the Group Insurance Commission to see if you are required to switch to Medicare upon becoming eligible.)

If you enroll in Medicare, you may want to obtain Medigap insurance to supplement Medicares coverage. If, prior to enrolling in Medicare, you were covered under:

  • the local municipalitys program, you should make arrangements with your local insurance coordinator to continue coverage through your group insurance program. The local insurance program will then serve as a supplement to Medicare. You should contact your local benefits coordinator for Medigap options.
  • the RMT program, you will be required to enroll in Medicare, if eligible you should then apply for Medigap coverage through the Group Insurance Commission. For your Medigap options, contact the Group Insurance Commission .

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If You Choose An Imrf

If you enroll in an IMRF-endorsed plan after retirement, or participate in the Sav-Rx Prescription Drug Discount Card Program, Delta Dental plan, or the United Healthcare Vision Care plan, you can choose to have your insurance premiums deducted directly from your monthly benefit payments.

To request automatic premium deduction, please complete a “Health Care Program Premium Deduction Authorization for IMRF Endorsed Plans,” form and return it to Doyle Rowe LTD with your enrollment form.

Automatic premium deduction is available on all Doyle Rowe plans except for:

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan for retirees and family members under the age of 65
  • Medicare Part D plan participants

Medicare Part D premiums cannot be deducted from your IMRF benefit payment, but you can elect to have them deducted from your Social Security payment.

Rockford Public Schools Employees Are Eligible For Insurance Benefits After 30 Days Of Continuous Employment

Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System Report to the IEA

Insurance includes health, dental and prescription coverage. Employees can choose a medical insurance plan from BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois: a Preferred Provider Organization plan or a High Deductible Health plan with a Health Savings Account .

Employees can also open a Flexible Spending Account for health care and dependent care expenses.

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Why Did Trs Change Its Medicare Program

None of us can say with absolute certainty why TRS decided to change its Medicare program to only offer Medicare Advantage plans. However, we can certainly speculate and make educated guesses.

Itâs no secret the state of Illinois is in financial trouble and has been for decades. Illinois hasnât had a balanced budget since 2001. In 2008 and 2009, Illinois faced spikes in pension contributions, and Gov. Pat Quinn took out more debt to make the 2010 and 2011 budgets balance .

Illinoisâ credit rating was downgraded 13 times from 2009 through 2014. By 2010, Illinois had the worst credit rating out of any state in our country.

When we understand this history, it makes sense that the Illinois government would be looking for ways to save money. We suspect the TRIP program got rid of its top-notch coverage and found significant cost savings by switching to a private Medicare Advantage program.

While this may be in the best interest of the stateâs budget, that doesnât mean itâs in the best interest of our stateâs teachers. Letâs call teachers what they are â public servants that shape our communities. We know of many teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies and decorations because they arenât given enough to make it happen. Teachers deserve better, and we want to make sure youâre doing whatâs best for you in retirement.

Who Must Enroll In Trail During The Open Enrollment Period

The TRAIL Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period for the 2022 plan year is October 15 – November 15, 2021.

Most TRIP members who are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B must enroll in one of the TRAIL Medicare Advantage plans offered in his/her county of residence in order to keep TRIP insurance coverage after December 31, 2021.

Each fall, CMS sends out information about the TRAIL Program. All official TRAIL documents and forms carry the states TRAIL logo .

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Cost And Method Of Payment For Medicare

Coverage for Medicare Part A is free to eligible retirees. There is a charge for Medicare Part B. Once you have established coverage with the Medicare program, the MTRS will withhold the monthly premium for your Medigap coverage.

Starting in 2007, the Medicare Part B premium is based on retirees income: In the past, all Medicare-eligible retirees paid the same premium for their Medicare Part B coverage. Starting in 2007, the Medicare Part B premium is higher for retirees whose income exceeds certain limits. The standard Medicare Part B premium in 2007 is $93.50/month. For retirees whose total earnings exceed $80,000 or $160,000 , the Part B premiums increase on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of $161.40/month for those retirees whose income exceeds $200,000 or $400,000 .

Teachers Retirement Insurance Program

Chapter Four: Contributions

TRIP is a comprehensive program of quality health care coverage for retired teachers and their eligible dependents. The program offers two types of plans: standard plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Benefit recipients enrolled in TRIP have prescription drug coverage available.

In order to join TRIP, you must be receiving a monthly benefit from TRS and have at least eight years of creditable service.

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Will I Receive A Benefit Statement

The TRS Benefit Report is available online by signing into your secure member account . You will gain access immediately after setting up the account and logging in. This report will be available in late November and you will be notified via email when it is ready for viewing. Your report contains important information about your earnings, years of service, sick leave, optional service credit and designated beneficiaries.

Costs And Method Of Payment

Since the administration of local health care coverage is negotiated on the local level, costs will vary from town to town. The percentage of the premium that you pay as a retiree may remain the same or even go down. However, we would suggest that you contact your benefits coordinator in order to find out what your costs will be when you retire.

The MTRS will be able to deduct your monthly premium from your retirement allowance. In turn, we forward your premium to your local community on your behalf. If, however, you wish to make the payments yourself, you will be responsible for making arrangements with your local coordinator to ensure that you meet your towns monthly payment dates. By having the MTRB deduct your insurance payment, your insurance will be automatically paid on a monthly basis.

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Tax Deduction For Retired Public Safety Employees

Retired or disabled public safety employees are eligible to take a tax deduction of up to $3,000 on their federal income tax return for health insurance or long term care insurance premiums.

To qualify, you must have held an eligible public safety position and reached full retirement age when you:

  • Terminated IMRF participation for retirement, or
  • Became totally and permanently disabled and are receiving IMRF disability benefits.

For additional details, including what positions meet the IRS definition of a public safety position, see IRS publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, at or talk with your tax advisor.

If youve determined you qualify for this deduction and want IMRF to deduct your premiums from your pension payment and pay your insurer directly, you will need to complete one of the following forms:

If you are continuing your health insurance coverage through your employer after retirement and you want to have your premium costs deducted directly from your monthly pension, complete a “Health Insurance Continuation Through Employer Premium Deduction Authorization” form and return it to your employer.

Doyle Rowe LTD provides a full range of health plan counseling and administrative services to more than 250,000 active and retired members of IMRF.

What Services Are Available For The Defined Benefit Plan

Retired Teachers: Is TRS Really the best Insurance Option?

Our website has current information, forms and publications, benefit videos and your personal information in the secure Member Account Access area. You are welcome to visit our offices in Springfield or Lisle, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please make an appointment so that we are prepared for your counseling session. If you prefer to reach us by telephone, call our toll-free number, 877-927-5877 , from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.In addition to these services, youll find a wide variety of information in the Topics & Report newsletters about legislation impacting TRS, benefit topics and current events. You’ll receive this newsletter three times a year via email or mail. For an overview of the benefits we administer and answers to many benefit questions, please consult either the Tier 1 Member Guide or Tier 2 Member Guide online.

What services are available for the Defined Benefit Plan?

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Illinois Teaching Salaries And Benefits

Illinois contains one of the largest teacher employee benefit programs in the country, providing the nearly 130,000 teachers in the state with not only a state pension retirement system, but extensive health insurance benefits as well.

As an Illinois teacher, your employee benefits will better prepare for your future retirement and current health needs. As living expenses and health care costs continue to rise, these benefits will help protect you from being sidelined by financial difficulties.

Learn more about becoming a teacher. Contact schools offering teacher education/certification programs in Illinois.

Is A Trail Medicare Advantage Plan Still Medicare

Yes. This type of Medicare Advantage plan, also known as an MAPD plan, is a Medicare-approved plan that combines the different parts of Medicare – Part A, Part B and Part D into one plan. Since Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare, you must continue to pay your federal Medicare premiums in order to remain enrolled in TRAIL.

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Retired Teachers In Illinois: Is Trs Really The Best Option

The Teachersâ Retirement Insurance Plan in Illinois was a fabulous program until February 1, 2014. Until then, the program always resembled a Medicare Supplement Plan F, which represents no deductibles, no copays, and no coinsurance for all Medicare-approved charges.

Perhaps what we all took for granted was freedom of choice. Medicare and Medicare Supplements do not have networks, and you can see any provider that accepts Medicare. Our clients loved it, and for good reason!

In 2014, the program changed to only offer a few Medicare Advantage plans. MA plans have deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and most importantly, provider networks. The Teachers Retirement System sent out a letter at that time with language like âgreat newsâ and ânew options.â

Retired teachers were confused and didnât understand â was this a positive change, or were the benefits they grew to know and love in jeopardy? Our organization exists to serve our senior community, so weâre here to clear up the confusion and help you make an educated, informed choice for your retirement.

Jump ahead at any time:

Disclaimer: We are not part of or affiliated with the TRS. Please confirm your TRS plan options and benefits. If you do meet with a Sams/Hockaday, we will ask for more information on the benefits offered to you for a fair comparison of your options. All of the TRAIL benefit information published here is publicly available via

Teachers Retirement System Trs

TRIP Benefit Program Books

The Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1939 for the purpose of providing retirement annuities, survivors and disability benefits for PK-12 public school educators outside of the City of Chicago.

TRS contributions and benefits have fluctuated over the years. Prior to July 1, 1933, contributions were based on a flat dollar amount per year. The contribution rate for the first 10 years of service were $5/year, the next 5 years were $10/year and the next 10 years were $30/year. Current covered employee contributions are 9% of creditable earnings salary.

Employees are currently divided into either Tier I or Tier II based on their hire dates. Tier I members are public educators that began participation in an Illinois public pension plan prior to January 1, 2011. Tier II members are public educators that started employment in a position covered by an Illinois public pension plan on or after January 1, 2011.

The Tier status of an employee impacts retirement eligibility:

  • TRS allows for an unreduced retirement annuity with the following:
  • Age 55 with 35 years of service
  • Age 60 with 10 years of service
  • Age 62 with 5 years of service
  • TRS Tier 2 requires age 67 and 10 years of service
  • Tier 2 does allow for a permanently reduced annuity between the ages of 62-67 with 10 years of service. The reduction is equal to 6% a year for each year under the age of 67.

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Districts Participating In The Retired Municipal Teachers Program

For questions about your coverage or premium, contact the Group Insurance Commission at 617-727-2310.

If your school district is not listed in the Retired Municipal Teachers Program , your health care coverage after retirement will be administered by your local employer.

The health insurance options available to you under this plan will vary according to the insurance plans negotiated within your local community. In most cases, your local community will give you the option of an indemnity plan or a choice of an HMO.

An important notice for charter school employees and inactive members: Be aware that school districts have different rules for providing insurance coverage to active members and retired members, and your district may or may not provide you with insurance benefits in retirement. Accordingly, if you are either an employee of a charter school, or you are not employed by a school district, as soon as you start thinking about retiring, investigate your eligibility for retiree health coverage, as your districts rules may affect your retirement decisions.

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