Some University Employees Double Dipping For State Paychecks

CHICAGO (CBS) — Some public university employees have figured out a way to keep their jobs and double their salaries.

CBS 2’s Dave Savini has been investigating this lucrative, yet legal, sweetheart deal involving government pensions.

One beneficiary of this pension law is Mark Wilcockson, a Northeastern Illinois University finance director. Last summer, he retired from the university, started collecting his pension then, two months later, was hired back to do the same job.

“It’s a benefit I earned after 38 years working in the system,” said Wilcockson about his pension.

Before retiring, Wilcockson was earning $168,648. He returned to the job at a lower salary: $123,000.

However, add in his $101,312 annual pension and his income grew to $224,312.16, a 33% increase in cash.

“I’m sure you’re here because of my salary, my range, because it happens to lots of other people,” said Wilcockson. “There’s faculty. There’s people in the mail room that do this kind of thing.”

He’s right and, again, it is all perfectly legal.

Another example is John Hoeppel, a director at Northeastern Illinois University, who retired making $109,596. Two months later, he was hired back earning $96,000. Add in his $97,896 pension payment, and Hoeppel’s income went up 76% to $193,906.32.

CBS 2 found employees at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the City Colleges of Chicago, and Chicago State University who also retired and returned to draw both a university pension and a university salary.

State Rep. Daniel Biss, (D-Evanston) is taking action now to stop this double-dipping practice. He says the pension systems in Illinois are “troubled”. The former University of Chicago math professor says taxpayers are being hit twice and it needs to stop.

“You have people who are able to retire and move to a different job which is often in violation of the spirit of the law,” says Biss.

Earlier this week, Biss introduced legislation to force universities to reimburse the pension system for double-dipping employees. So, if a university allows an employee to retire and collect a $100,000 pension, and then rehires that person, the university would have to repay that $100,000 to the pension system. This could be an expensive proposition and put and end to the practice.

Christina Tobin, of National Taxpayers United of America, has been investigating the university pension system. She says the collecting of two taxpayer-funded checks needs to stop.

“It’s definitely taking advantage of a flawed system,” says Tobin. “Currently the pension system is unsustainable.”

Tobin says the state has failed to sufficiently fund public employee pensions, putting them in jeopardy, as well as the poorly designed pension system itself.

Wilcockson says you cannot blame retirees.

“There’s nothing wrong with what I did,” said Wilcockson.

The real blame, say pension experts, goes to lawmakers who created the system.

Biss’s proposal was prompted by the CBS 2 investigation. If approved, universities would still be able to rehire retirees, but would be required to reimburse the state for pension payouts to rehired employees while they draw a university salary.

Biss said many retirees get around laws against double dipping by being called “temporary employees,” even though they work full time.

Check out Dave Savini’s Facebook page

More from Dave Savini
  • tom sharp

    Can you list the names of the legislators and other patronage pimps that allowed this to happen. It’s a loophole you can drive a Semi through and didn’t happen by chance.

  • david

    Wait a minute.How can that be legal? It is taxpayers money! Yet we as citizens also pay into our own Social Security Benifit. If we retired and collected our Social Security and then went back to work. We would have to give back our,I said our,Social Security Benefit back.If not.We would go to Jail !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ashley

      Wrong sir, if you collect after the age of 66 Social Security does not give a care about how much you make. As in you can make 1mil a year and still collect full benefits related to Social Security. Anything before you are 66 though, say you started collecting at 62 then made more than the allowed. You pay back Social Security, and the way they make you do that is by taking it from anyone on your ticket. So if you have a disabled child on your ticket, it gets taken from them.

      • Barbara Sehnke

        What? You sound like you work for a government agency too. “from anyone on your ticket”??

  • tony s

    I live in norridge illinois .Are police chief retired from a 110,000.00 job as chief only to be rehired as a public safety officer at 96000.00 .are high school supt.makes 250,000.00 a dollars a its know wonder why are taxes are raising every year

    • sam

      tony s Interpretation:

      are = our
      know = no

    • THEE Yard Ape

      Yes and we all know the high crime rate in Norridge!! LOL !!!! I work there and love how the “barney fife” cops stop “aggressive” drivers for failing to come to a complete stop at an empty inetersection, especially at the end of the month when their quotas are up !!! Try running a business in that lousy little ‘burb!!! I have had customers tell me they are moving due to all the BS. Norridge wants to be the next Rosemont!

  • jonr

    Thank you CBS for exposing this. Those people know how badly Illinois is doing–there is no way they can really think they’re doing nothing wrong. It’s a total scam, and they know it. Shame on them. Shame on the lawmakers who left this loophole in. Shame on the Universities that re-employed these people knowing they were simply doubling their salary. Again, thank you CBS.

    • Tim Scherman

      I’m not sure about “simply” doubling their salary. If the individual retired to Florida, the University would have to find someone to do the work that person used to do, and that salary, sad to say, would probably be HIGHER than the one they offer the individual back for AND benefits of some kind. In this instance, they/we are paying someone to do the job well for less, with no additional benefits. So the State is saving. What people seem to be bothered by is simply that one person is making a lot of money; if you think about it, we’d be paying two people MORE money, in the end. Boil this all down and you get a person who has worked hard, continuing to work hard, making more salary. And we’d rather pay MORE to pay someone DIFFERENT rather than make one person wealthy. Very strange. Is this America? Keep anyone from amassing more money…no matter what it costs us?

      • Len

        Exactly correct. This actually saves the state money by paying lower salary and no additional benefits. Workers have earned their pensions and what they do after retirement is their business. The retirement systems give “earning limitations” which are allowed by law. Hiring new employees at full salaries with benefits is definately more expensive to the taxpayer.

  • just the Average Joe

    This is yet another example of how the IL taxpayer gets fleeced by the government employees, who think that government jobs are there for the sole purpose of feeding their greed. Then you get the thugs and scammers that are private citizens that work to scam these government programs. Where does the honest working citizen get a break. They don’t in IL!

  • g-man

    Don’t forget to mention king Daley’s multiple pensions. Or are you “news” people still too scared to pick on him ???? And what about all the money Jesse Jackson collects to do NOTHING !!!!!!!!!

  • Holly Whiteskin

    And who runs Illinois,The DEMOCRATS,and you as holes keep voting them in office year after year, they have taken GOD out of our lives,they don’t believe in moral values,they believe in killing un born babies,they rob from you and give to lazy as s minorities,and you got a president and his click doing the same thing to our AMERICA.,so don’t complain thats what you want.

    • ME

      This practice actually started during the Regan administration!!! Check you facts!!

  • Wish to Remain Anonymous

    Uhm these blanket laws affect the employees like me who make 24k a year. When I retire from one of the state universities I will most definately need a second job. Maybe there should be something in there about pay range. If retired now I would get about 17k a year. I hope the lawmakers really research before they change the option for what they call “double-dipping” Also, I’m sure no one in a mailroom is making 100k!!! Oh by the way, HE DOESNT SEEM TO BE ONE OF THE UNION WORKERS that state complains about ibreaking the system!!!

  • Barbara Sehnke

    This is another reason the rich get richer and the poor just don’t. STOP this madness and obscene abuse. These employees from Universities are nothing more than another scam to drain money from the pockets of the public. CHANGE THE LAWS!

  • crissy

    Please don’t restrict this to “university” state employees. Superintedents of PUBLIC school districts do this ALL the time. They stay with a school district long enough to quality for retirement benefits, then move to another state for another superintentent’s job, and on and on. Seems the public employees have thought this out throughly. I don’t know the requirements of other states, but this is wrong on so many levels – especially the children – and, of course, the current economic state of Illiniois. (Usually listed as #1 – #3 as most strapped states in the country. I’m sure there are more instances of this kind of irresponsible government pension spending. Other state employees require 20-30 for full retirement benefits – Check out the ones that are REALLY ripping us off.

  • Hamburglar

    Must be nice.

  • joe d

    Funny how this guy was the vp of finance…he sure knew how to work the system.

  • taxpayer

    thanks for doing this expose. Thanks to David Biss too! I hope the new legislation re: ddoubling dippings will be passed too!

  • Linda Elsey

    ANYBODY double-dipping should be ashamed of themselves. With so many people unemployed who could use those jobs and are as well qualified but can’t find work, this is part of the reason.

  • frank

    Why dont u look into the legislators who hold two government jobs and also are lobbyest?

  • Magy Orez

    Explain to me how the university is saving money by keeping these two directors on the payroll, epecially when you consider the fact that one of the two was and is the director of student counseling. Are you telling me he is of great asset and vital for the wellness of the entire school? Is this a joke? A very expensive joke? I bet you the university could have easily replaced him with two counselors with approriate credentials. What a sad and cruel joke on all of us.

  • Chicago News Stories for Feb 09 2012 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)Some University Employees Double Dipping For State PaychecksSome public university employees have figured out a way to keep their jobs and double their […]

  • Concerned Baby Boomer

    I am appalled to call these Baby Boomers a part of my generation. Their greed and exploitation of the Illinois system will cause immense financial harm to the generations to come. In fact, our children and our children’s children will have smaller salaries, smaller pensions and will have had to spend more money on tuition to attain the same jobs.
    CBS I implore you to continue the coverage of this story in such a way as to educate the 20 and 30 year olds who will have to pay this enormous and unsustainable debt. My hope is that with this information they would be able to elect the representative that would rectify this infuriating practice.

  • Bevmom

    List of names?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live