The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Illinois

December 5, 2013

Ill. workers, retirees worry about pensions changes

(Continued)

She’s also angry that the legislature is considering tax breaks for companies such as Archer Daniels Midland while lowering pensions for its own retirees.

“They’re robbing from Peter to pay Paul,” she said.

Ellen Larrimore had already done the math for retirement.

She has worked for seven years as a library specialist at Northeastern Illinois University and planned to retire in three years with an annual retirement annuity starting at about $15,000 — not a lot, but with some income from other sources and annual cost of living raises, she could get by.

But under the pension bill passed by the legislature, she stands to receive more than $40,000 less over 20 years than she would under the current system and might have to reconsider when she retires.

“If your pension is not keeping up with inflation, the older you get, the poorer you get,” said Larrimore, who said many workers fear their retirement incomes won’t keep up with Medicaid and Medicare changes.

But Larrimore said she’s most worried about younger workers who will face reduced benefits and have to work longer before they can draw a pension.

“A lot of people on campus are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Larrimore, noting that university workers won’t be eligible for Social Security. “People think we get luxurious pensions, but that’s not the case at all. It’s very modest.”

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