Determining Eligibility for Participation in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) or Social Security System and State Insurance "A" Payroll

The criteria for determining eligibility for academic employees for participation in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) or social security and in the state insurance program are set forth for information. The Illinois General Assembly enacted and the Governor signed legislation that changes the participation requirements of SURS effective July 1, 1991. This law requires immediate participation in SURS of residents in medical training and of postdoctoral research associates, eliminates the exemption from SURS for employees in permanent and continuous positions with less than one-half time appointments, and reduces the length of time a position must be expected to continue from one academic year to at least four months or one academic term.

  1. Eligibility for Participation in SURS

    An employee must participate in SURS if the employee

    1. has an appointment of 1 percent to 100 percent for at least four (4) continuous months.
    2. is an annuitant in the federal retirement system whose appointment meets the above criteria.

    An employee is not eligible to participate in SURS if the employee

    1. has an appointment of 1 percent to 100 percent for less than four (4) continuous months.
    2. is an academic hourly staff member.
    3. is an annuitant in SURS or is currently receiving a disability retirement allowance from SURS. Annuitants in SURS are also exempt from paying Social Security, but they do have to contribute to Medicare. If an employee is an annuitant in the federal retirement system, he or she does not have to contribute to Social Security, but does have to contribute to Medicare. These employees may have to participate in SURS (see above).
    4. is a student. (Such employees are exempt from Social Security as long as they are registered as students during the term in which they are working.)
    5. is a non-U.S. citizen with a J-1 or F-1 visa employed on or after July 1, 1991.
  2. Because of federal legislation extending Social Security taxes to state and local government employees not participating in a retirement system, the University must make deductions for Social Security taxes from those employees' earnings.

    An employee must participate in Social Security if the employee

    1. has an appointment of 1 percent to 100 percent for less than four (4) months.
    2. is an academic hourly staff member.

    The only exception to this rule is for a non-U.S. citizen with a J-1 or F-1 visa employed on or after July 1, 1991. These employees are excluded from participation in SURS, Social Security, or Medicare.

    The IRS regulations permit state and local government employees, as an alternative to Social Security, to contribute at least 7.5 percent of their earnings to a defined contribution retirement system offered by the employer via payroll deduction. Employees should contact the Benefits Center.

  3. Those eligible for participation in the State Health Insurance Program are
    1. all academic staff members, except for graduate assistants, whose appointments are at least 50 percent for at least nine (9) continuous* months. Those with an appointment of less than 100 percent may participate by sharing proportionately in the cost of the insurance premium.
    2. all academic staff whose appointments are at least 50 percent of full-time service, but less than nine (9) continuous months, and whose appointments are designated as permanent.** In such a case, it is necessary to put a statement under "Remarks" on the Change of Status form that the individual will be reappointed and that the appointment will be for at least nine (9) continuous months. That statement plus the departmental signature will serve as an official certification of intent for benefit determination. If the statement is not on the Change of Status form, the employee will be asked for a letter.

    In a case where an individual was appointed initially for less than nine (9) continuous months at 50 percent or more of full-time service and the unit extends the appointment, the individual is not eligible for insurance coverage unless the date of preparation of the Change of Status form or the date of first signature on the Change of Status form is the beginning date of at least nine (9) continuous months of employment.

    * Continuous is defined as "no break in pay."

    ** Permanent is defined as "intent to reappoint."