SURS Retirement

NIU employees have access to retirement benefits through the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). You can also choose to participate in a supplemental retirement plan with an approved vendor. When the time comes, we'll help you learn how to retire.

Please note: Since NIU employees don't pay into Social Security, you won't be eligible for Social Security coverage based on your employment at NIU. You will pay Medicare taxes.

Eligibility for SURS

NIU is responsible for confirming if you're eligible to participate in SURS. In general, you're eligible if your position requires you to work continuously for at least four months during one academic term or two months in the summer, and your employment is not intermittent or irregular.

You're not eligible if any of the following apply:

  • You're a student regularly attending classes at a college or university that participates in SURS and are employed on a part-time, temporary basis.
  • You're employed under the Comprehensive Employment Training Act of or after July 1, 1979.
  • You hold a J1 of F1 visa and have not yet established residency status.
  • You're currently receiving a retirement annuity.

SURS Plans

If eligible, you must enroll in one of three SURS retirement plans:

  • Traditional Plan: a defined benefit plan that provides a survivor benefit at no additional cost. However, the separation refund is less generous than the Portable Plan.
  • Portable Plan: a defined benefit plan similar to the Traditional Plan with a more generous separation refund. However, the provisions for survivor benefits require reduced retirement and death benefits.
  • Retirement Savings Plan (self-managed): a defined contribution plan to which you and the state of Illinois contribute. It allows you to choose from a variety of investment opportunities.

You'll need to enroll in a plan within six months of your start date. If you don't, you'll be placed in the Traditional Plan. Your choice is final and cannot be changed.

Enrollment in SURS

You'll enroll in a retirement plan through SURS. SURS will mail information to your home address or you may find out more about the plans on the SURS website. You must choose your plan within six months of your start date. Your choice is final and cannot be changed.

You can indicate your choice by returning the election form mailed to you or by making your selection online on the SURS member website. You will need your SURS member ID to register on the website for the first time which will be included in the information mailed to you.  If you have not yet received the SURS information in the mail and want to enroll online, you can obtain your member ID by calling SURS at 1-800-ASK-SURS.

Please note: SURS uses a two-tiered system for its retirement plans. You're in tier I if you were hired before Jan. 1, 2011. If you were hired after that date, you're in tier II.

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