FAQ

FAQ Categories

MEMBERS

INSURANCE

RETIREES AND SURVIVORS

SERVICE

INVESTMENTS

RECIPROCAL

DISABILITY

DIVORCE (QILDRO)

GENERAL FUND

CONTRIBUTIONS

Questions & Answers

MEMBERS

I am about to turn 65, what do I need to do?

Apply for Medicare benefits 3 months before your 65th birthday at: www.medicare.gov.

 

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How can I change my address with LABF?

Please send your request in writing by either using one of your monthly earnings statements, download an address change form or on a blank piece of paper request an update to your contact information.  Please include the current date, the effective date of your change (ie immediate or specific date), your new address, new phone number, your office number, print your name, and provide your signature.  This request may be mailed or faxed to LABF (312) 236-0574.

 

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Am I a Tier 1 member?

You are a tier 1 member if you were hired by the City and were a member of the LABF or a reciprocal fund prior to 12/31/2010.

 

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How do I know if I am a Tier 2 member of the pension fund?

A Tier 2 member is an employee that was hired for the first time on or after 1/1/2011.

 

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When do I become vested for a retirement benefit?

The term “vesting” doesn’t apply to our plan.  You have the right to your contributions and earn eligibility to retire based on your age and years of pension service.  You may become eligible to retire as early as age 50 with 30 years of pension service. 

 

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How do I update my beneficiary?

Download the LABF Beneficiary Designation Form or call the Fund to have one mailed to you. This form must be notarized to be valid.  

 

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How do I apply for an annuity (pension)?

Call the Fund to discuss the process if you have questions after reviewing the Retirement Preparation guideline found under the Members - Retirement section of the website.

 

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I cannot find my earnings statement, how do I get another copy?

The earnings statements are printed and mailed by Northern Trust Bank and cannot be re-issued. The Fund can provide you with an alternative form of payment verification upon request.

 

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How do I obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate, death certificate, divorce decree, marriage or civil union license?

Contact the department of vital records for the county in which the event(s) took place.  For those that took place in Cook County, information can be found by visiting www.cookcountyclerk.com.  You have the options of ordering documents via phone, in person or online.

 

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What is the amount of widow's annuity?

At the time of death a calculation is done to determine the highest benefit payable to an eligible widow. This may range from a minimum benefit up to the maximum of 50% of what the retiree was receiving at the time of their death.

 

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What is Automatic Increase?

Automatic Increase is an increase to your retirement annuity.  

 

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How do I apply for disability?

By calling LABF (312) 236-2065. (press 3 for "Benefits," then 2 for "Disabilities"). Time restrictions apply.

 

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INSURANCE

Who do I contact regarding insurance questions?

Active Employees should contact the City of Chicago's Benefits Service Center at: (877) 299-5111 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you (or your spouse, if you're a widow) were hired prior August 23, 1987, contact the Benefits Service Center at the number above.

All other annuitants should contact their insurance providers directly. 

For general information about Annuitant Healthcare options, Click here.

 

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When I become eligible for Medicare, how do I change my insurance premium and benefit?

You must apply for Medicare a few months before becoming 65 years of age.  Upon receipt of your medicare card, contact your healthcare provider.

 

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Who do I contact for a new insurance card?

Should your card become damaged, lost or stolen, contact your current healthcare insurance provider. 

 

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I have a specific question about my insurance coverage?

Contact your current healthcare provider as noted on your insurance card.

 

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RETIREES AND SURVIVORS

How do I change my federal tax withholding?

You may change your election by completing the Federal Tax Withholding election section on one of your monthly earnings statements, complete a Form W-4P from the IRS or provide a written note including your name, date, withholding request and your office number or Social Security number for internal verification.  Your signature is required on any of the above mentioned options which can be mailed or faxed to the Fund.

 

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Do I pay state taxes on my benefit?

Currently in Illinois you are not taxed on pension income; however, some states do require that you pay income tax on your pension annuity.  It is your responsibility to confirm your state requirements and set up withholdings from your payment as you prefer.  

 

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When does my Automatic Increase start?

Please refer to the pension legislation summarized here.

 

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I am the Power Of Attorney for my mother, what do I need to do?

If you have a Power of Attorney For Property, present a copy to the pension fund to keep on file.  If you have a Power of Attorney For Healthcare this document does not cover pension fund transactions.

 

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When does my spouse start to receive their annuity benefit?

Upon your death.  A legal spouse at the time of your resignation with the City, Board of Education or Retirement Fund, is entitled to apply for a widow’s annuity in the event of your death. 

 

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When I retire, how long will I wait to receive my first annuity payment?

At a minimum 60 to 90 days. If you are retiring Reciprocal it will take longer.  For exceptions: see ODCX or Reciprocal Retirement   

 

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Will my pension be reduced if I am eligible for Social Security Benefits?

Review the Windfall Elimination Provision.

 

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What if my spouse dies or we divorce after I retire, can I receive a “no-spouse” refund?

No. If your spouse pre-deceases you or you divorce after you retire, the contributions made on the spouse’s behalf are not refundable. Those contributions make up your monthly annuity payment. 

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How can I start receiving my check through direct deposit?

On the back of your monthly Earning Statement there is a section for you to set up direct deposit.  You will need to fill out the account information, sign and date the form.  You will also need to provide a voided check or a letter from your bank confirming your account routing number, account number and type of account (checking or savings).

 

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SERVICE

Can I purchase service time to attain retirement eligibility?

No, you cannot purchase time that you did not actually work.  If you left the City, took a refund of your contributions and returned to work for the City, you may be eligibility to purchase that time back.  Please contact our office should you need further information regarding buying back service.  

 

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How many years of service do I need to retire?

The minimum number of years is ten at age 60.  For more options see the Retirement Section.

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How do you determine pension service credit?

Your service credit is based upon your work history with the City or Board of Education but is not counted in the same manner as your City career service.   For a better understanding review the Service Section

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If I previously took a refund of my contributions can I buy back my previous City or Board of Education service?

Yes, as long as you are still in service with the City or Board of Education. As per the Contribution section.

 

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INVESTMENTS

Who is managing the investments for the Fund?

The LABF’s Board of Trustees administers the benefits and manages the Fund assets.  They work with investment management firms and investment advisors that manage the Funds portfolios.  See Investment section

 

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Where can I find the Annual Financial Report?

Please refer to the Publications Section of the website for an online access to various financial reports.

 

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RECIPROCAL

If I worked for the City and also Cook County can I get a retirement benefit from both?

Under certain conditions, you may receive an annuity from each Reciprocal Fund based on its proportional share of the benefit based on combined service time.  

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How do I start my pension from two or more reciprocal funds?

Contact the Fund you are currently contributing to and request an estimate.  Notify them of the other funds you are a participant of (have contributions with) and indicate you are interested in retiring reciprocal.  See Reciprocal section.

 

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DISABILITY

Will I need to repay my disability payment(s)?

Yes and No.  If you fail to notify the fund when you are released to return to work and are over paid disability, Yes, you do have to repay the overpayment back to the Fund.  In general, no you do NOT re-pay disability benefits to re-establish your retirement benefit.  The benefits are separate and one doesn’t draw from the other.  

 

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Will a disability payment reduce my retirement benefit?

No, disability payments do not come out of your retirement benefit.  

 

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What if I get married while I am on disability status?

You would have to return to work for a minimum of 1 year in order for your spouse to be considered for eligibility for a widow’s annuity in the event of your death.

 

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What disability benefits are available to me if I am hurt on the job?

Benefits are available to you if you are accidentally injured as a result of performing your job duties. A combined maximum benefit of 75% of salary may be awarded.  You may contact the fund at (312) 236-2065 (press 3 for "Benefits" then 2 for "Disabilities").

 

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DIVORCE (QILDRO)

My ex-wife just filed for a QILDRO, what do I do?

Refer to the Divorce/QILDRO section of the website.   

 

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What if my spouse dies or we divorce after I retire, can I receive a “no-spouse” refund?

No. If your spouse pre-deceases you or you divorce after you retire, the contributions made on the spouse’s behalf are not refundable. The determination of the refund is based on your marital status as of your last day of employment with the City, Board of Education or Retirement Fund.

 

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GENERAL FUND

What is an office number?

LABF has assigned a unique 5 digit Office Number to all members for us to identify you with our office in lieu of using your Social Security number. This Office Number will appear on most correspondence to you and on your participant statement.

 

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What is provided on a participant statement?

Your contact information, Office ID Number, Your contribution balance by category (your retirement, cost of living and widow’s annuity)

 

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What is an annuity?

An annuity is twelve equal monthly payments from the pension fund in the form of a retirement benefit, a widow’s benefit or for a surviving minor child. The Fund issues the payments on the 1st of the month. 

 

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What type of retirement plan is this?

401(a) plan:  A retirement plan that allows for contributions by the employee, the employer, or both.  Contribution amounts, whether dollar-based or percentage-based, eligibility, and vesting schedule are all determined by the sponsoring employer. 

 

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How do I enroll in the pension plan?

In accordance with the Illinois Pension Code, you are automatically enrolled in the pension fund and contribute towards your retirement through payroll deductions of 8.5%. 

 

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Why does the Fund need to see my original birth certificate?

The Fund requires presentation of original or certified documents which are scanned into your file before you can receive any type of payment from the Fund whether it be disability, retirement or a survivor benefit to your spouse or child.  These documents can be provided to the office via mail or in person visit.

  • Birth certificate (member, spouse, children under age 22)
  • Marriage certificates (all marriages)
  • Divorce Decrees (all divorces)
  • Beneficiary Designation Form
  • Information Sheet
  • SSA card for spouse and dependent children
  • Medicare Card (Part A & B) or SSA denial letter

 

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Do I need an appointment to bring documents to the Fund office?

No appointment is needed to drop off paperwork, however, it will be more convenient for you to notify the office so your name can be added to the building visitor log.  Applying for disability benefits, a refund or asking general questions, can be handled by phone.  We will schedule appointments when you have resigned and need to complete your retirement paperwork.

 

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How do I address the Board?

It shall be the policy of the LABF Board, in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/2.06(g), any person shall be entitled to present comments before the Board. These comments shall be limited to five minutes and must be on a topic that is on the meeting's agenda.

Each person wishing to present comments before the Board will file a Public Comment Form indicating their request to address the Board and the topic of his/her commentary.  Order of appearance will be based on the order of Public Comment Forms filed.

Please view the LABF's Open Meetings Act Policy for the rules on notification, procedure and comment guidelines.

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CONTRIBUTIONS

Why are you withholding money for a spouse if I am not married?

State law requires contributions towards a widow’s annuity regardless of your marital status when you become a member.  If you do not have an eligible spouse on your retirement date, these contributions will be refunded.

 

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How do I apply for a refund?

Contact the Fund for a Refund Application, provide written confirmation from the City of your resignation or termination.   

 

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Can I borrow against my LABF contributions?

You cannot borrow from your member contributions.  Please note that only participants who are no longer employed by the City or the Board are eligible to receive a distribution from the Fund.

 

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What if I don’t collect an annuity long enough to recover all my pension contributions? What happens to the money?

Generally, an employee will “collect back” all of their contributions as their monthly annuity payments within two years of retirement. Any accumulated contributions that were not paid out, in either the form of an annuity for an employee, spouse, children or as a reversionary annuity, are refunded to the employee’s designated beneficiary.  

 

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