SUAA Mini Briefing
August 28, 2014
The State Universities Annuitants Association won a big victory today for SURS university retirees who were seeing deductions from their pension distribution checks for state health insurance premiums. The Sangamon County Circuit Court granted a motion filed by SUAA to enjoin the State from deducting money from pension checks of university employees to cover state healthcare premiums.
Last October, with the Court having determined that state health insurance premiums were not pension benefits protected by the Pension Clause, SUAA pursued the issue in Federal Court on due process grounds. In July, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Sangamon County Court finding that the state health insurance premiums are indeed pension benefits and therefore protected by the Pension Clause.
Two weeks ago, SUAA filed a motion to intervene before the Sangamon County Court in the Kanerva case along with a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the State from making the deductions to SURS university retirees’ pension distribution checks which the Court granted. (Other motions for permanent injunction were filed by other Plaintiffs but the Court was not yet prepared to grant permanent injunctive relief.)
Two weeks ago SUAA prevailed upon the Department of Central Management Services to withdraw the emergency rule which doubled the amount of deductions being made since July. With today’s ruling, the State is required to stop the deductions altogether. However, it may take the State a month or so to catch-up as pension checks are already in the process of being sent for September. Please take note that this applies to deductions being made for statehealth insurance premiums and today’s ruling does not affect community college retirees.)
This victory today is also a huge boost to the challenge against general pension reform. Last week SUAA filed a motion in the general pension case arguing that pension benefits were simply not subject to deductions at all. In granting the injunctive relief today, the Court gave a clear indication that pension benefits generally cannot be violated. You can be sure that this point will be made to the judge in the general pension case next week which will have a huge impact on the rights of all SURS members – community college employees and university employees alike.
Meanwhile, the next step in this case is to recover the monies already taken. The Court has given the State until October 13 to file its response to SUAA’s Motion for Judgment and Permanent Injunction and SUAA has 21 days after that (November 3) to file any reply. The Court has set the next hearing for November 21st at which time it will rule on the various motions for judgment and permanent injunction.
SUAA has also filed a motion for class certification to facilitate collecting monies taken from SURS members for state health insurance premiums and returning them. The Court was not prepared to address that motion at this time preferring to see what the State had to say about the other motions. SUAA attorney Aaron Maduff did reserve the right to take discovery to find the monies already taken if necessary, a point of which the Judge took due notice.
SUAA is represented by the Law Offices of Maduff & Maduff, LLC, www.madufflaw.com, and John D. Carr.
Linda L. Brookhart
State Universities Annuitants Association