Frequently Asked Questions

What is a funded ratio?

A. The funded ratio places the unfunded liabilities in the context of the retirement system's assets. Expressed as a percentage of a system's liabilities, the funded ratio is calculated by dividing net assets by the actuarial accrued liabilities. The result is the percentage of the accrued liabilities that are covered by assets. At 100, a system has sufficient assets to pay all benefits earned to date by all its members. However, in a February 2012, article for Governing magazine Girard Miller states that to actually be fully funded a pension system should have a funded ratio of 125 (calculating assets at market value).

Plan Name  Funded Ratio
Illinois JRS 31.5%
Illinois SERS 35.6%
Illinois TRS 46.5%
Illinois SURS (Defined Only) 44.3%
Illinois GARS 21.2%

Source: All funded ratios are from each systems' Fiscal Year 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which are available online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are some calling for Illinois to switch from a defined benefit to defined contribution system?

A. As of 2011, Illinois faces an unfunded pension liability that exceeds $80 billion, one of the largest in the nation. Calls have been made to switch Illinois from its current defined benefit system to a defined contribution system due to misunderstandings regarding the sources of this large debt and the effects of a system switch.

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