Program Designed to Curb Illinois’ Pension Debt Seeing Better Numbers Than Expected Early

SPRINGFIELD — A program designed to curb Illinois’ pension debt is now underway.

Early numbers show more Illinois state employees than expected are choosing to take a pension buyout from the state.

Public employees hired before 2011–and who have worked for at least eight years–get an annual three percent boost when they collect their pensions.

That adds to what the retirees bring in, but also the cost of Illinois’ pension debt.

So, state lawmakers introduced the option as part of last year’s budget. State retirees can now choose to swap the three percent annual adjustment on their pensions for a lump sum payment–70 percent of what they would have gotten.

They also get to keep their base pension and 1.5 percent adjustment each year.

Since it launched in December, at least 200 new retirees took the deal, more than expected. Blair says their buyouts have ranged between $80 and $100,000.