by Michael B. Weinstein (Fall 2017)
Governor Rauner has signed House Bill 418 (Public Act 100-281) into law. The new law, which was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Illinois State House and Senate, prospectively eliminates a form of “double-dipping” that is currently available to Article 3 police officers.
Beginning January 1, 2019, a police officer who retires from an Article 3 fund but then reenters active service can continue to receive retirement benefits, but can only participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan, such as a 457 plan, instead of earning service credits towards an additional defined benefit (DB) plan pension. All Article 3 municipalities are required to establish a defined contribution plan to accommodate such situations. Note that this re-entry provision only applies to police officers who first become a member of an Article 3 fund after January 1, 2019.
The new DC plans would also allow police officers with more than 10 years of creditable service who enter active service with a different municipality to elect to participate in the DC plan as an alternative to earning creditable service in the new municipality’s traditional DB plan. Because this is optional, this provision applies to members currently participating in an Article 3 fund, as well as future participants.
The new law also eliminates the ability of police chiefs to elect to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Program (SLEP) as an alternative to participation in an Article 3 pension fund. However, in interpreting this new law, IMRF has taken the position that a police chief who already has IMRF creditable service will still be allowed to enroll in IMRF SLEP post-January 1, 2019.
The final language in the new law represents a compromise between legislators and the Illinois Association of Police Chiefs. As originally introduced in the legislature, the bill would have required that pension payments be suspended whenever an officer reentered active service with the same municipality from which he/she retired.