Chicago Police Pension Facts vs. Political Fiction

Political Fiction

Chicago Police Officers have been under a contractual agreement with the City of Chicago to serve and protect the citizens of our city. Under the terms of the contract, officers are required to work no less than 40 hours each week, agree to be assigned as needed to regions of the city, and agree to live in the city. IN RETURN the City promises to pay the officers according to the published pay scale, provide them with medical and dental coverage (at a cost covered by the employee), and provide a pension, the terms of which are established at the time of each officer’s swearing in.

The pension is somehow negotiable in arrears, and changes can be made to the contract the City made with the officers, long after the officers have made good on their part of the bargain.

Chicago Police officers contribute 9% of their pay to their pension plan from EVERY PAYCHECK THROUGHOUT THEIR CAREERS, funding a large portion of their pension themselves.

The pension is a gift from the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

The money Chicago Police Officers contribute to their pension fund is, by law, to be supplemented by payments from the City of Chicago. Suburban and downstate Police agencies pay into their pensions according to law, the state does not fund their portion as required by law.

The money the State of Illinois and City of Chicago pay into the fund for police retirement is an optional payment, and is subject to political approval whenever the General Assembly feels like it.

First responders receive Social Security at a rate reduced by 60% even though they are eligible.

Chicago Police Officers get full Social Security benefits on top of their pension.

36 responses to “Chicago Police Pension Facts vs. Political Fiction”

  1. Retired Dennis McGuire

    We take a 60 percent deduction on SS benefits. That’s a fact ,thanks to rostenkowski. Why do we pay the same as every ss member for Medicare?
    Shouldn’t we pay 40 percent? It appears that we get screwed again. If we only receive 40 percent of our ss benefits, it’s only logical that we should only pay 40 percent for Medicare coverage.

  2. First Responder Pension Facts

    Jim Hennigan
    The city of Chicago does pay its share regularly based on when they receive the tax revenue used for the fund. They do not pay monthly or even semi monthly as the police and firefighters do.
    When the police fund was started a formula was developed that required the city to pay a 2x multiplier. In other words we pay 9% they kick in 18%. Additionally they they agreed to be responsible and ensure that the fund would be able to survive and pay the pensions. No one held a gun to their heads. In fact it was pretty much their idea do set it up this way.
    Several years back the FOP agreed to waive a certain city finding liability and the city was absolved of much of it’s pension fund debt at that time. Now they are in trouble again and are blaming the people the little guy for their fiscal irresponsibility.
    Much of the recent legislation has been aimed at pension funds out side of Chicago and funded by the state of Illinois rather than Chicago and at teachers funds state wide. Other proposals have been to eliminate the city’s future financial responsibility by switching to 401k plans which would completely eliminate or reduce, substantially, the city contribution.
    What it boils down to is the city and the state knew when they hired everyone that they would be required to make certain payments. They now want to get out of them. This was no surprise to them. They new the debt was there and they have done nothing to plan for the future.
    The city, state, and several civic groups like the Civic Federation are doing their best to pass their financial debt off. However the city and state still squanders money and spends like they owned the printing press.

  3. Jim Hennigan

    After years of believing that the City had, for decades, failed to make its share of required pension fund contributions, I was recently challenged by a member of your organization who told me that, in fact, the City is fully up to date on it’s contributions. He related that another member of your organization, also a member of the pension board, had suggested that the problem is with the “formula”, not with the City’s recalcitrance.
    Any help in clearing this up?

  4. Deb DeYoung

    This website is in the process of being updated, there will be more articles and new information daily. Please keep checking, it will take a few days. When the updated site is finished please feel free to post articles you want to share. Thanks for looking.

  5. Schicklegroover

    Illinois lawmakers (you know, the guys who will be in charge of re-writing the laws that steal OUR pensions) get to retire…
    * At age 55 with 8 years of credited service.
    * At age 62 with 4 years of credited service.
    * With 85 percent of their final salary with 20 years of service credit.
    Source: General Assembly Retirement System of Illinois

  6. Diane Smith

    I have emailed the President, Vice President, Senators and Reps. regarding the appalling situation of the pension fund noted in this article. How is it that our politicians, who as we can readily see, don’t work nearly as hard as our police and firefighters, get benefits that the people they are supposed to represent, FOR LIFE and the first responders who protect these same politicians receive reduced benefits ? A few of the members of my family, now retired, were policemen and women and that’s how I became aware of this discrepancy. I intend to keep reminding our ELECTED officials that they need to rectify this imbalance. God bless all first responders and keep them safe.

  7. Kathleen Gallagher

    I am mortified at the treatment of our public employees, especially the ones who put there personal safety on the line for the grater good. I wasn’t aware this was going on. Where is the press coverage? I know its tight all over but it is unconscionable to cheat these public employees. I have a number of relatives on the job although I am a nurse. I just want to thank YOU ALL who put on the uniform every day, literally or figuratively. Unfortunately, you cant take that to the bank so I am going to the websites of the Governor, my State Senator, the Mayor & Alderman next and ask them to protect these pensions. Keep up the good work!

    1. Deb DeYoung

      Thanks Kathleen, we need all the help we can get.

  8. Nikoli Knasiak

    @Bryan Holy: the site http::// provides a way to see national Sen/Rep voting records, for example, here is Rep. Schakowsky’s 2011 record:

    @Deb – Coleen pointed me in your direction; I think what you’re doing here is great, keep it up!

    1. Deb DeYoung

      Thanks Nick, I appreciate the help in locating the info. Family always comes through.

  9. Anonymous

    You havent even or forgot to mention the Government Pension Offset. Probably more costly that the Windfall profits. As a spouse you are entitled 1/2 your spouses SS benefits My wife worked for over 35 years and receives approx $1800 a month I was entitled to $900 a month as a spouse but because of the Government Pension Offset I am only entitled to benefits above 2/3 of my pension which is $60,000 so I am entitled only to SS benefits above the 2/3 or $40,000 Therefore I receive no spousal benefit Thats the second shoe that dropped by ole Danny R

  10. dennis cappetto

    S.S. is reduced by 60 % and for everyone’s information. It was convicted Rostenkowski, i’m sorry president clinton, expunged his conviction.(so wrong) So he could get back his city, county ,state and federal pension back.

  11. don munger

    John Ciszewski,
    And I thought I was doing poorly w/SS @ $106 monthly! I retired as a lt on 5/1/81 w/nearly 33 yrs of service. My SS payment is based on three years in the Army during wwII and various part-time jobs up to 1967. When my wife passed in ’07 I thought I might be entitled to an SS amount based on some part of her check of just under $600, but the folks at SS say that’s not true. Don

  12. Bryan Holy

    Does anybody know how to post OUR state reps/sen. voting records?? ANd our aldermen ………… We need to put that up on every issue that effects us. So they know we are watching them………. Once they are elected they seem to forget the promises they made to us the people who elected them.

    1. Joseph Avila

      Good Idea Bryan!!!!!!!

    2. Deb DeYoung


      Voting records are a matter of public record, I am not sure where to find the info, I will look into it. If anyone has any suggestions on where to look I would appreciate it.

  13. frank gainer (retired CFD)


    1. John J. Ciszewski

      Frank, 128/46? send me a line or two

  14. AMcA

    Your last fact is wrong. Social Security benefits are reduced for people who earn public pensions. It’s not a huge reduction – I believe it’s around 10-15%, but there is a reduction.

    One other fact that needs to be kept in mind: the Illinois Constitution of 1970 guarnatees that public pensions, once earned, cannot be reduced. Future benefits can be changed, but benefits already earned cannot. And if the City tries something funny, remember that the judges who decide whether the City can get away with it has a public pension too. Yup, in that sense we’ve kinda got the game rigged.

    1. Steve

      You are an idiot!!! SS benefits are reduced by 60% for police officers!

      1. oldbrown

        You’re right, he’s an idiot. Apparently he shot his mouth off without checking the SS website where the reduction is clearly spelled out. The section that screws us is called the “Windfall Provision”.

    2. Deb DeYoung

      Dan Rostenkowski reduced our benefits by 60%. I know this for a fact. My father is a retired PO, he should be getting a base SS of $1100. a month. Because of Rostenkowski he recieves a little less than $200. per month after medicare is taken out. Please feel free to check my fact again.

      1. John J. Ciszewski

        Hi Deb hope all is well with you. I worked prior to during and after the job to ensure sufficient amount of quarters. I was reduced 1/3rd for taking it at 62 and 1/3rd due to government service (private pension) now after medicare I receive a grand total of $80.00 a month. As another mentioned if they continue to raise the costs I also will have to pay out of pocket.

        1. Deb DeYoung

          John, all is well, thanks for asking and thanks for the info.

    3. Kathleen

      If your guessing 10-15 percent then you don’t know. I know that Social Security is telling me that I will get over $1000.00 a month which I am not collecting yet, but know that officers that have retired in my same range are receiving less that $300.00 a month. That is WAY less than 10-15%.

      1. oldbrown

        I’m a retired FF and in my case my SS was reduced by about 66% because I earned a public safety pension. People that claim we only lose 10-15% obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.

  15. Anonymous

    How does it feel knowing your paying in to a Ponzi scheme setup by the previous generation of public employees? What about adding to the FAQ a answer to why do public employees deserve a guaranteed return on investment rather than having to accept a loss when they and their fund managers poorly ‘invest’ their wealth.

    1. Jim Carroll

      Dear Anonymous,

      The simple answer to your question as to why public employees DESERVE a guaranteed “defined benefit” as opposed to a “defined contribution” return is because they were smarter than the politicians that offered that type of plan.
      For years, the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois preferred to offer thier public employees lower wages and greater future benefits for two reasons. The first reason was to avoid raising property and other taxes, especially prior to an election. The second reason was that they knew that they would not properly fund the pension funds and could instead use that money to buy more votes in their Wards, Congressional and Senatorial Districts. The representatives of the public employees (Police, Fire and Teacher Unions) then gained support of the public to protect their contracts with an Illinois Consttiutional Amendment (Chapter 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) and further guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 10). So don’t be mad at the public employees who worked 25 or 30 years for less to secure their returement. It is taxpayers like you who were victims of the Ponzi scheme carried out by your “Raiders of the Pension Ark” for decades. And let’s not even get into Social Security’s WEP and GPO provisions that have been confiscated from public employees and their spouses EARNED benefits! Guess who gets that money.

  16. Susan O'C

    What I think we need to find out is what the City and State decided to spend the money on when it was time to pay into the pension funds.

    I would bet that we would find the money being spent on new programs and services for the “great unwashed.”

    Also, money spent on illegals, (Sanctuary City/State) education, medical, housing, cell phones, utilities.

    Why is the City/State providing meals at school when we already provide Food Stamp money to the parent/grandparent of said student. Sounds like double dipping to me.

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  19. Deb DeYoung

    Good point Mike, Please continue to call and e-mail your legislators. Don’t let them think you have become complacent.

  20. Sgt. Michael Lazzaro

    Good website- it is very important to get involved, public pensions are under attack. Contact the Governor, State Senators & Reps, the Mayor & Alderman and ask them to protect our Pension.

  21. Deb DeYoung

    Thanks, Sgt. Al

  22. Sgt Al

    FACT: Police Officers DO NOT get Social Security ‘unless’ they worked eligible part-time work IN ADDITION TO their regular CPD job and attained the required amount of quarters to be eligible. (Worked 2, 3 0r 4 etc. jobs theory)
    They may also be eligible if they attained the required number of Social Security quarters ‘prior’ to joining the CPD. (Previously eligible theory)
    KICKER: Either way, since they then chose to serve the City of Chicago as Police Officers, again IF eligible, they ONLY will receive 40% of what they are ENTITLED TO in Social Security as a penalty for taking a pensionable job, all of which they paid 100% into !