Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Topinka son sues pension system over death benefit
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Topinka son sues pension system over death benefit

Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016

* Bernie

Joe Topinka, son of late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, has filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court seeking more than $60,000 in contributions she made to her state retirement system while serving as comptroller.

The suit seeks to overturn a ruling by the General Assembly Retirement System that because Topinka was paid more in retirement benefits than she contributed to the system over her life, no refund is due.

But Joe Topinka, 48, the late comptroller’s only child and a married father of a 6-year-old daughter, said his mother had said the money she put into her pension fund could help her grandchild with education expenses. […]

According to the written decision of the retirement system’s board, after Topinka’s death, the board issued an interpretation of state law. That interpretation stated, in part, that when a retiree goes back to work and becomes a participant in the system again, the death benefit “will equal total contributions made by the participant during all periods of active service, less the total amount of retirement and survivor’s annuity payments received by the participant and the participant’s survivor. If the total amount of … benefits paid is greater than the total contributions, no death benefit is payable.”

JBT’s total payments into the GARS pension system were about $262,000 and she collected almost $533,000. GARS has by far the worst unfunded liability of all the state’s pension systems.

Bernie also reports that Joe Topinka filed suit over his mother’s campaign fund, but that was dismissed and he’s appealing. He also filed suit in probate court to gain control of the campaign fund, but that, too, was dismissed and he’s appealing it as well, Bernie writes.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    The rules are the rules. JBT willingly participated in the system under the rules, which her heirs are also bound to. I guess this points out that not everything in the state pension system is wired for the benifitee.


  2. - RNUG - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    From what I read this morning, it sounds like the pension board acted correctly. With no surviving spouse, what happened is exactly what I would have expected to happen.


  3. - LizPhairTax - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:17 am:

    Outside looking in, seems like he’s just flailing. Losing a parent so suddenly must’ve been tough. I feel bad for him. My hope is that someone he’ll listen to advises him to give it up.


  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:20 am:

    Looks like the apple fell really far from the tree this time.


  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:34 am:

    Not lookin’ great on this. Joe.


  6. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:56 am:

    GARS is the worst funded pension program? Who knew? When it’s teacher bashing time, I read that TRS is the worst funded. What are the facts?


  7. - A guy - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    I imagine it’s possible that mom and son had a discussion about this without either knowing the full extent of the rules. That being said, the rules didn’t change, misinterpreted or not. Joe is not looking good with regard to any dispute regarding money. Sad all the way around.


  8. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    –GARS is the worst funded pension program? Who knew? When it’s teacher bashing time, I read that TRS is the worst funded. What are the facts?–

    Given the major size difference in the two, I’m guessing it would be GARS on a percentage basis, and TRS on a raw dollar basis.


  9. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:00 am:

    To the main subject, it appears the common thread in all those actions is “Joe wants money.” Not a great look, indeed.


  10. - A Jack - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:01 am:

    40 ILCS 5/2-123 (d) states quite clearly that he is only entitled to the excess of contributions over payments and never interest. This has been in effect since 1998.


  11. - Lil Squeezy - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:03 am:

    “GARS is the worst funded”

    GARS is so small it could be funded as pay as you go.


  12. - RNUG - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:08 am:

    == Given the major size difference in the two, I’m guessing it would be GARS on a percentage basis, and TRS on a raw dollar basis.==

    Yes.


  13. - Indochine - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:14 am:

    Ugly and embarrassing, but there’s no dealing with Joe once he gets a crazy idea into his head.


  14. - RNUG - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    == GARS is so small it could be funded as pay as you go. ==

    Actually, if the State was willing to deal with the uncertainty of varying payments from FY to FY, they could ignore the liability and fund all the systems on a “pay ad you go” basis.


  15. - DuPage - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:14 pm:

    I read this is the first time anything like this has happened in GARS, and they had to “interpret” the law. If JBT had never been a GARS retiree previously, the $60,000 would have been refunded. So she was double penalized, her pension was not paid when she went back to work as comptroller, then her new contributions which would otherwise be refunded were also not paid. The fact that she thought that new contribution would be refunded just shows how unclear and sometimes contradictory the law is.
    JBT sacrificed a lot of time and money for the good of Illinois. A truly good person, I miss her.


  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:34 pm:

    ===If JBT had never been a GARS retiree previously, the $60,000 would have been refunded. So she was double penalized===

    She wasn’t penalized.

    She chose to get a pension. Then she chose to run for office again. If she hadn’t taken a pension she wouldn’t have been upside down in her account when she passed away.

    Sheesh.


  17. - A Jack - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:35 pm:

    I suspect that JBT as head of the SERS pension board knew the rules. She was likely planning on living many more years, as we all do, and would use the higher pension benefit to fund her grandchild’s education.

    Joe doesn’t have a case.


  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:36 pm:

    Also, too, JBT screamed louder, longer and earlier than just about anybody about the state of the pension systems. I highly doubt she’d approve of draining them now, whatever her own non-lawyer interpretation was when she was alive.


  19. - Dr X - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:37 pm:

    What a great return. 262,000 in and 530,000 out? Was she still drawing from the system?


  20. - A Jack - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:53 pm:

    No one continues to draw a state pension if they return to state employment with one exception. The pension systems allow retirees to come back to work under a 75 day contract. This allows the state to continue to tap into the retirees’ experience. But it is a strict 75 day limit. The Comptroller is a full time job, so she had to give up her pension to return to public service.


  21. - RNUG - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 12:56 pm:

    == The Comptroller is a full time job, so she had to give up her pension to return to public service. ==

    Technically, it was suspended. And had she survived and again retired, the payments would have been recalculated upward to reflect the additional years of service.


  22. - Davos Seaworth - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 1:46 pm:

    =The pension systems allow retirees to come back to work under a 75 day contract.=

    This provision you quote is only applicable to SERS. There are different provisions for each System. GARS is one of the Systems that do not permit any type of return to work. Said different, if a GARS annuitant returns to a GARS covered position, on day 1 their pension is suspended.


  23. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 2:16 pm:

    I find the best way to write and market a credible book is to completely alienate yourself from those who love the subject.


  24. - Raising Kane - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 2:40 pm:

    Not sure how this turned into a conversation about JBT’s pension. She played by the rules and respected the system.


  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 2:45 pm:

    Excellent point Davos. I’m still amazed at how many people think the pension systems are all the same. Not by a long shot. The different provisions are very very different for many benefits.


  26. - Davos Seaworth - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 2:58 pm:

    =She played by the rules and respected the system.=

    Which is why this is so sad. Her son continues to conduct himself contrary to her legacy in manners related to her service.


  27. - Davos Seaworth - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 3:12 pm:

    *matters


  28. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 3:35 pm:

    ===JBT’s total payments into the GARS pension system were about $262,000===

    If this were the private sector, we would be discussing the percentage of the employer match. In theory, the state should have been contributing tens of thousands of dollars along side of her at the same time frame, and then there should be at least 5% or 6% assumed for rate of return on the fund if we’re being conservative.

    Are those figures adjusted for inflation?

    We’re talking about payments that she made into the pension system in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

    His case might actually go somewhere. A dollar in 1981 was a lot more valuable than a dollar in 2011.


  29. - RNUG - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 4:13 pm:

    == His case might actually go somewhere. ==

    Nope. Refunding only employee contributions (in excess of pension payments) is the rule for most of the state pension systems. Same as if you want to cash out instead of getting a pension (unless you are in one of the alternate TRS/SURS plans).


  30. - 37B - Tuesday, Dec 13, 16 @ 4:31 pm:

    Am I the only one who flashed on the name Anthony J. Peraica when I saw this newest lawsuit?

    Riverside is full of lawyers who have Joe’s (and his late mother’s) better interests at heart.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Question of the day
* It's (still) just a bill
* Just own it, dude
* *** UPDATED x1 *** FBI raids Ald. Austin's ward office
* Fun with numbers
* The hollowing out of state government
* Lightfoot pushes back against critics
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates
* Two Bradys, two rhetorical approaches
* Justice Burke under fire again for appointments
* Crosstown open thread
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............


Loading


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller