Retired teachers

Retired Shelbyville teachers, Jim Sparks, Kim Sparks, and LaVonne Chane attended a retire teachers conference in October and heard from an Illinois Supreme Court Judge.

The judge who wrote a decision protecting retired teacher pension spoke at a conference recently attended by former Shelbyville teachers.

Jim Sparks, Kim Sparks, and LaVonne Chaney, retired Shelbyville School District teachers, attended the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Conference October 14-15, 2019 at the Crown Plaza in Springfield. All three are active members of the Shelby County Retired Teachers Association.

The theme of the Convention was “IRTA: Our Light, Our House, and Our Shield. IRTA is the only organization that represents retired teachers and their interest so IRTA is the light for all of the retirees.

“Since retirees and IRTA have a common interest and IRTA works to shelter us, IRTA represents the retirees house,” said LaVone Chaney. “The Shield is IRTA and retirees working together to protect the benefits owed to retired teachers.”

The Keynote Speaker was Illinois Supreme Court Judge Lloyd Karmeier. He wrote the final decision in the lawsuit Heaton vs. Quinn which struck down Senate Bill 1 in 2015 that would have reduced retired teacher”s pensions.

Justice Karmeier delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion”

“At issue on this appeal is the constitutionality of Public Act 98-599 (eff. June 1, 2014), which amends the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (West 2012)) by reducing retirement annuity benefits for individuals who first became members of four of Illinois’ five State-funded pension systems prior to January 1, 2011.

“Members of the retirement systems affected by Public Act 98-599 and groups representing those members brought five separate actions challenging the validity of the new law on the grounds that it violated numerous provisions of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, including article XIII, section 5 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, § 5), popularly known as the pension protection clause.”

Judge Karmeier explained to the conference how the court system worked in Illinois and how cases got to the Illinois Supreme Court.

“His speech was very well received by the Convention attendees,” Chaney said.

Besides the business of IRTA, breakout sessions were provided on WEP/GPO, TRAIL and Medical Air Services Association. WEP/GPO stand for Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset which effect Social Security Benefits for retired teachers.

Most retired teachers receive little or no social security. TRAIL is the teacher retirement insurance plan for those who also have Medicare while TRIP is for those not yet eligible for Medicare.

Medical Air Services Association is an emergency air service that IRTA members can receive at a reduced cost due to their membership.

John Curtis can be reached at

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