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Cook County Officials Have Hefty Pensions

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Sep 7, 2011 8:40PM

Photo by Flickr user wrokic.

Cook County government officials have one of the highest-paying pension programs in the state, nearly on par with those of Illinois' judges and statewide elected officials. Beneficiaries receive a pension equal to 80 percent of their final salary, as long as they are more than 50 years old and have accrued 33 years of work. The Daily Herald reports:

Only judges, statewide elected officials like the governor or attorney general and members of the Illinois General Assembly have it better, with just 20 years on the job and a lifetime pension based on 85 percent of their salaries.

Compared to that, police and firefighters can get pensions after 30 years, but based on just 75 percent of their earnings.

It's worth noting that while the County's retirement age is 50, social security doesn't dole out benefits until workers are over 67 years of age. About 80 percent of Cook County's budget is tied up in personnel costs, prompting calls for reforms of an unsustainable program. County officials say the pension program only has about 60 percent of the obligated funds. Last year 15,089 people received $420 million.

It's a shame younger workers will probably never know a pension, having entered the workforce at the end of the 20th century when many companies were just starting to realize how much a pension really costs as the baby boomers started to collect theirs.