Bob Lyons is a member of the Teacher Retirement System board of trustees. He represents all retirees in the TRS system.
The IRTA in suing the state over the pension reduction bill sued Governor Quinn, State Comptroller Judy BarrTopinka, and the Board of Directors of the Teachers’ Retirement System. When the IEA and IFT file their suit, the individual members of the TRS Board will also be included in those being sued. Our staff lawyer told us to expect that. Because I am know a party to the suit I will make no comments about the suit going forward. By law, the Illinois Attorney General will defend the state and the named parties against the suit.
I can speak to the possible administration of the new law and answer some of the questions I have been asked. I hope by now everyone understands that any reference to annuitants receiving social security having their COLA reduced by a greater amount in the law refers only to a small number of state retirees that earned both social security and a state pension as part of their job. It does not in any way refer to anyone covered by TRS. Those of you that will be receiving your 3% increase for 2014 will see it in your bank account February 3 and every month thereafter for the rest of the year. Also, all parties, the IRTA, IFT, IEA, and also the pension systems themselves will favor an injunction in the administration of the law until the Illinois Supreme Court renders a verdict on the constitutionality of the new law. We have all heard speculation as to how long it might take for the suits to reach the ISC with dates ranging from several months to several years. No one is in a position to say with any certainty.
We learned today that we have been able to find all but seven retires that needed to make an election for their health care insurance and TRS is still trying to reach those seven. Over 41,000 elections were received and just under 2000 annuitants did not return their form. TRS cannot automatically assume that each and every one of them has decided to stay with traditional Federal Medicare, so they all are being called to confirm their final choice. For those of you that have made a choice that will result in a different amount being taken from your pension check, you will see the difference show up in your bank account on March 3, 2014. The TRS staff did a tremendous job in dealing with this responsibility, which included working with many people with very specific needs that required extra effort on the part of everyone involved. I know I speak for more than myself in thanking them for their help.