Updated: July 1, 2020
Issue: State law allows retired TRS members to return to work in a TRS-covered teaching or administrative position on a temporary basis. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, post-retirement work by TRS members in a TRS-covered position cannot exceed 120 days or 600 hours during a school year.
For the purposes of recording the service of TRS members, a full “school year” is measured as 170 days. The “year” begins on July 1.
The law is designed to prevent retirees from “double dipping” – receiving both a TRS pension and a full-time salary in TRS-covered position. However, the law also is designed to permit experienced teachers and administrators to substitute teach or to fill faculty vacancies when school districts are having difficulty hiring enough licensed staff to fill all positions.
Discussion: Up until July 1, 2018, the “post-retirement” work limits were 100 days or 500 hours.
In 2017 and 2018, school districts throughout Illinois reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find enough licensed teachers to fill all open positions. At one point, the Illinois State Board of Education estimated that there were approximately 40,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state. The Board officially declared a statewide “teacher shortage” and enacted various policies and programs designed to attract more qualified teachers. These included an expansion of the post-retirement work limits.
The law was amended in 2018 to temporarily boost the limits to 120 days or 600 hours of work. If a TRS member returns to work and exceeds these post-retirement limits, then the member is declared to be an “active” member by TRS and their pension benefits are suspended. Their pension benefits resume only after they “retire” again. The law was further amended in 2020.
The 120 days/600 hours limit will be in effect through the 2020-2021 school year. The limits automatically revert to 100 days or 500 hours in the 2021-2022 school year unless extended again by the General Assembly and the governor.