Working in Retirement

As much as you enjoy retirement, you might be considering reentering the workforce. Before you return to work, you should understand how this decision may impact your monthly pension.

Return to Work rules depend on whether you retired from Cook County Pension Fund (CCPF) or whether you retired under one of the reciprocal systems covered by the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act. The rules can be complex, therefore, contact CCPF to discuss your individual situation.

Returning to Work Stops Your Pension

If you were a former County employee who is now retired, and you decide to return to County employment, you cannot continue to collect a pension while an active County employee. In addition, if you retired under the Reciprocal Act and you decide to return to work with any of the systems you already retired from, then you cannot continue to collect any of those reciprocal pensions while actively working.

Example: You retired in 2014 from both CCPF and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, and are receiving two separate pension payments, one from each fund. In 2016, you decide to return to work with [either fund]. As a result of returning to service, the pension in both funds would stop because you now reentered the workforce as either a County or Municipal employee. 

Three Years of Service Required to Recalculate a Pension

If you were retired collecting a pension check and your pension was stopped because you returned to employment, the Pension Code provisions state that you must return to work for three or more years for a pension to be recalculated for any increase in service, salary, and age. If you return to employment for a period of less than three years, the pension originally granted will be reinstated without any consideration of additionally earned service or salary, or for an increase in retirement age.

County Employment Example

If you were receiving a County pension based on age 55 with 10 years of service, and then you returned to work for another 3 years of service, your new pension calculation would now be based on your [new] age at retirement with 13 years of service — and, the additional 3 years of salary may be included to further increase your  pension amount.

 

Failure to Notify

It is your responsibility to notify CCPF that you returned to work. You can face serious financial consequences if you don’t follow the provisions of the law that apply to receiving a public pension while working for a public sector employer.

CCPF is required to recoup any pension payments you received when they should have been stopped. This can potentially add up to a large overpayment, which you may have to reimburse by personal check or will be first collected from any future pension payment. It could take a long time to recover the overpayment.

In summary, it is your responsibility to inform CCPF that you returned to work

  • Contact CCPF at (312) 603-1200 to inform us about returning to employment.
  • CCPF staff will assist in determining if your pension will stop.
  • Stopping your pension will also stop any CCPF health benefits.
  • You should be aware that when you do subsequently retire, continuation of CCPF health benefits may not be available at that time.