Sen. Laura Ellman

SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that would make the retirement process fairer for many Illinois firefighters passed the State Senate Wednesday.

“This legislation levels the playing field for all of Illinois’ firefighters,” Ellman said. “The current law doesn’t address an oversight that could cause hundreds of firefighters to lose out on time they’ve served when they retire.”

Currently, firefighters outside of Chicago who began work after 2011 are not allowed to purchase service credit after changing employers. This measure would ensure that all firefighters, would be able to purchase service credit if they move to a new employer who is covered by a different fire pension fund.

Members of a pension system earn service credits for time they’ve worked. A purchased service credit is an additional amount of service that pension system participants can purchase – or essentially move from one pension system to another – that can be used to calculate the amount a person will receive when they retire. Many firefighters outside of Chicago can purchase credit when they switch employers, so their service at their prior employer will be factored into their retirement earnings. For example, a firefighter who moves from Peoria to Rockford might purchase their time in Peoria to move it to the Rockford system.

“Our firefighters risk their lives daily,” Ellman said. “They keep our communities safe. We need to make sure they all receive the money they’ve earned and deserve when it comes time for them to retire.”

Senate Bill 167 passed the Illinois Senate with a vote of 59-0 and now heads to the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.