How to Retire
ET-4133 (REV 6/2011)
How Retirement Benefits Are Calculated ........................... Page 1
How to Complete Your Retirement Application ................... Page 2
What to Expect After ETF Receives Your Application......... Page 6
Eligibility for Other Benefits ................................................ Page 6
Commonly Asked Questions .............................................. Page 9
Glossary ........................................................................... Page 11
Contact Information ..................................................... Back Cover
How to Retire
The following information will walk you through completing a retire-
ment application, cover general topics and provide answers to com-
monly asked questions. This material will answer the same questions
that would be asked if you met with a benefits specialist in person.
This brochure references a number of publications that contain more
specific information. Visit http://etf.wi.gov/members/how_to_retire.htm
for more information and links to these forms and brochures. We also
suggest you view ETF’s Road to Retirement: Online Video Appoint-
ment, follow the Members link of the ETF Video Library at http://etf.
How Retirement Benefits Are Calculated
The Department of Employee Trust Funds calculates age with less than the required years of service. If you
retirement benefits using two methods: the Formula elected to participate in the Variable Fund and your ac-
calculation method and the Money Purchase calcula- count has an excess or a deficiency, this information is
tion method. Benefits are paid based on whichever also factored into this calculation method.
results in a higher benefit. The higher paying method is
shown on Page 1 of your Retirement Benefit Estimates The Money Purchase calculation is based on the
and Application (ET-4301). current total contributions (employee and employer
required, plus interest accrued), the actuarial factor
The Formula calculation is based on the total years of based on age at the date of retirement and assumed
service in your employment category(ies), the formula interest based on the termination date (.416% inter-
multiplier for your employment category(ies), military est for each full month the money stays on deposit at
service credit (if applicable), the three high years of ETF).
earnings to determine the final average monthly earn-
ings and the age reduction factor (if applicable based For more information about these calculation methods,
on age at the date of retirement.) An age reduction see Calculating Your Retirement Benefits (ET-4107)
factor is applied if you retire before normal retirement http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4107.pdf.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 1 etf.wi.gov
How to Complete Your Retirement Application
You may apply for your information, see Federal Withholding Requirements
benefit up to 90 days before and Direct Rollover Option (ET-7289) http://etf.wi.gov/
your termination date. It publications/et7289.pdf and the Authorization for Direct
takes ETF approximately 60 Rollover (ET-7355) available from ETF. These two
days to process your ap- forms only apply if you are eligible for a lump sum and
plication and establish your a direct rollover.
estimated payments. You
can apply for your benefit If you are only eligible for a lump sum payment, you
up to 90 days after your may move to Step 6. Steps 3 through 5 of this docu-
termination date without los- ment do not apply.
ing benefits. An application
received more than 90 days
after termination may result Monthly Payments
in the loss of some benefits. Everyone who is eligible for monthly payments has
You will receive any late payments retroactively after three Life Annuity Options. They are:
the account has been set up on estimated payroll.
For Annuitant’s Life only;
For more information on the application process, see Life with 60 Payments Guaranteed; and,
Applying for Your Retirement Benefit (ET-4106) http://
Life with 180 Payments Guaranteed.
If you provided ETF with information regarding a quali-
fied joint survivor, you are provided Joint and Survivor
Step 1: Confirm Personal Information Annuity Options. They are:
Confirm your name, date of birth, Social Security num-
ber and address (and the joint survivor’s name and 75% Continued to Named Survivor;
date of birth if listed). If you see an error, please cor- 100% Continued to Named Survivor;
rect the information on the retirement estimate. If your
date of birth or Social Security number are wrong, you Reduced 25% on Death of Annuitant or Death of
may be required to submit legal documentation with Named Survivor; and,
correct information. A date of birth error could affect 100% Continued to Named Survivor with 180
your monthly annuity benefit. Payments Guaranteed.
For a full explanation of these choices, please see
Step 2: Benefit Payment Options Choosing an Annuity Option (ET-4117) http://etf.wi.gov/
This is perhaps the most challenging decision of the publications/et4117.pdf.
retirement process. There are pros and cons to weigh
among the various options. All options provide you with payments for the rest of
your life. The options differ in what happens after you
Lump Sum pass away. There are three possible outcomes after
you pass away:
Eligibility for a lump sum versus monthly payment
options of regular retirement benefits depends on the A. Nothing more is payable;
size of your annuity. If your monthly annuity figure for B. Annuities payable for a guarantee period are still
the “For Annuitant’s Life Only” option is less than $168 in effect, and payment will be made to a benefi-
(for 2011), you are restricted to a lump sum payment. ciary;
If your annuity is at least $168 (for 2011) but less than
$342, you may choose between a lump sum payment C. A joint and survivor annuity option was selected
or a monthly option. If your monthly annuity is $342 and, as long as the named survivor is living,
(for 2011) or more, a lump sum payment is not avail- they will receive benefits.
Beneficiary Versus Named Survivor
If you are eligible for a lump sum, you may choose A beneficiary will receive remaining payments from an
to roll the benefit over to a qualified plan. For more annuity with a guarantee period. A named survivor will
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 2 etf.wi.gov
receive payments for the remainder of their life upon You may cancel your application for monthly payments
your death. A beneficiary can be changed at any time, if ETF receives your written request no later than the
while a named survivor cannot be changed. You may last working day before the 21st of the month in which
name multiple beneficiaries. A beneficiary can be a your first check is dated. This is 19 to 20 days after
person, a trust, an estate or an organization(s). You your first payment. If you chose a lump sum payment,
can have only one named survivor. A named survivor ETF must receive your written request no later than
can be anyone, but federal restrictions on the differ- the last working day before the date of your check.
ence in age between you and your survivor may limit
the options. By law, your spouse or domestic partner For more information on annuity options, see Choosing
has a right to be a named survivor and must waive that an Annuity Option (ET-4117) http://etf.wi.gov/publica-
right if a survivor option is not selected. tions/et4117.pdf.
Accelerated Payments Step 3: Joint and Survivor
If you are eligible for accelerated payments, dollar Information (if applicable)
figures will appear in two columns next to the regular If you selected a joint and survivor annuity option,
monthly retirement benefit column. Choosing an ac- complete all of the fields in this section.
celerated payment means you will get more money
while you are younger; then, after you turn age 62,
your benefit will decrease. That decrease in benefits Step 4: Direct Deposit Authorization
at age 62 is permanent, and it is assumed you will Direct deposit is the only payment method available
initiate benefits from Social Security at that point. This for ETF monthly benefits. Please provide all the infor-
means the longer you live after age 62, the more it will mation requested in this section and staple a voided
“cost” you for the temporary acceleration. Essentially, check to your application if you selected a direct de-
you buy the temporary benefit from your after-age-62 posit into a checking account.
You may change the direct deposit location at any
If you are an alternate payee or firefighter interested in time. Simply complete a new Direct Deposit Authoriza-
receiving accelerated payments, see Special Concerns tion (ET-7282) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et7282.pdf
Related to Accelerated Payment Options (ET-4932) and mail it to ETF. Leave your old account open until
http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4932.pdf. at least one deposit is received in your new account.
Otherwise, your payment will be returned to ETF and
may not be paid until the following month.
If additional contributions were made to your account, Step 5: Taxability
you have additional flexibility in your choice of pay-
ment. You will see monthly dollar figures in the column This section tells you how much of your monthly ben-
titled “Employee Additional Contributions Benefit.” efit payment will not be taxable for federal purposes.
You will also see dollar figures printed for annuity Members who have made post-tax contributions will
certain periods (defaulted to pay for 24 months, 60 see a monthly tax exclusion in this section. The re-
months and 120 months), as well as a lump sum dollar mainder of your monthly benefit will be taxable. The
amount. You also may choose to delay payment(s) tax treatment of WRS benefits is generally similar for
until a minimum distribution based on your age is federal and Wisconsin income tax purposes. Other
required. For more information see Am I Subject to a states may treat WRS benefits differently. For more
Minimum Distribution? on Page 10 of this brochure. information about taxation of annuities you should:
Contact your tax advisor;
Changing Your Option See IRS Publication 575;
You may change your option within 60 days of the Contact the Wisconsin Department of Revenue
date of your first check. You must submit this change or your state’s tax agency.
in writing. Either submit a Retirement Annuity Option
Change Application form (ET-4319) http://etf.wi.gov/
For more information, see Tax Liability on WRS Bene-
publications/et4319.pdf or write a letter expressing
fits (ET-4125) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4125.pdf.
your request to ETF.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 3 etf.wi.gov
Step 6: Income Tax Withholding Election
For more information, see Tax Liability on WRS Ben-
Most retirement benefits are subject to federal and efits (ET-4125) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4125.
state tax (if applicable in your state of residence). You pdf and Federal Withholding Requirements and Direct
may elect whether or not to have federal tax and Wis- Rollover Option (ET-7289) http://etf.wi.gov/publica-
consin state tax withheld from your benefit. If you do tions/et7289.pdf.
not have tax withheld, you are responsible for making
any necessary estimated tax payments directly to the
taxing authority. Failing to make estimated tax pay- Step 7: Applicant Information
ments may result in tax penalties.
Federal Tax: Select a filing status (married or single)
Termination Date of All
and a number of exemptions. Selecting single status WRS Employment
will cause a higher amount to be withheld. Select- Enter your anticipated termination date. If you do not
ing a higher number of exemptions will cause a lower recall your termination date, you may leave this blank.
amount to be withheld. You may also specify an ad-
ditional amount to be withheld. You may use vacation time, personal holiday, Satur-
day holiday or sabbatical leave to extend your time
State Tax: Select a filing status (married or single) and on payroll, or you may receive it as a one-time payout
a number of exemptions. You may also specify an ad- from your employer. If you receive a payout from your
ditional amount to be withheld. employer, they will withhold taxes from the payment. If
OR you participate in the Wisconsin Deferred Compensa-
Wisconsin tax law also allows you to set a specific dol- tion (WDC) program, you may roll that payment over to
lar amount for withholding. the WDC (up to the maximum WDC allows) and avoid
withholding until you receive a distribution from WDC.
ETF cannot advise you what the proper withholding Please contact your employer for more information.
amount is for you. It is best to contact your tax advisor
or the IRS for advice regarding proper withholding. Benefit Effective Date
Select the begin date for your annuity (benefit effective
You may change your withholding at any time using
date) by choosing either the earliest possible date or
one of the following methods: (Note: Changes will
by specifying a later date.
take effect approximately 60 days after the receipt of
your request.) Earliest possible date: If you are terminating and
intend to begin benefits immediately, check this box.
Call ETF’s 24-hour, automated phone line toll
Benefits will begin the day after termination. If you
free at 1-877-383-1888 or local 608-266-2323;
terminated in the last 90 days, ETF can back-date an
Call ETF at 1-877-533-5020 during normal busi- annuity effective date up to 90 days.
ness hours and speak with a benefits specialist;
Specify a later date: When a member wishes to
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; select an effective date that is something other than
Complete and mail ETF an Income Tax Withhold- the day after they terminated employment, the annuity
ing Election form (ET-4310) http://etf.wi.gov/pub- must begin on the first of a month. The “Specify Later
lications/et4310.pdf. Date” box is used for this purpose.
Caution: In many cases it is important for benefits to
Lump Sum Payment be effective within 30 days of termination. For exam-
If you are eligible for a lump sum payment, it can ple, a person may lose eligibility for group life or health
either be paid directly to you or rolled over to another insurance administered by ETF if their annuity is not
qualified plan. Lump sum payments not rolled over effective within 30 days of termination. An annuity ap-
to a qualified plan will have 20% withheld for federal plication received within 90 days of termination can still
income tax and may be subject to other taxation, such become effective in time to preserve rights to benefits
as early withdrawal penalties. Direct rollovers are not such as health insurance.
subject to withholding. Please check the box indicating
your choice. If you choose a direct rollover, complete
the Authorization for Direct Rollover (ET-7355) avail-
able from ETF.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 4 etf.wi.gov
Step 8: Marital Status Step 9: Application Certification
You must date and sign the application. A guardian or
Check the appropriate box indicating your marital sta-
conservator of your estate may sign the application. In
tus and provide the information about your spouse or
this case, a copy of the order of guardianship must also
domestic partner if relevant. Even if you provided this
be submitted. A power of attorney may be eligible to
information earlier in the joint survivor section, please
sign an application on your behalf depending upon the
provide it again. A spouse or domestic partner must
power of attorney type. For more information on this,
be considered as a named survivor if the couple has
see Chapters 243 and 155, Wis. Stats.
been married or in a domestic partnership longer than
12 months. A person can still select an annuity which If you are married or in a domestic partnership and do
does not provide a lifetime annuity for their spouse or not select a joint survivor option, your spouse or do-
domestic partner, but their spouse or domestic partner mestic partner must also sign the application, waiving
will need to waive their right to this benefit in the appli- their right to the lifetime benefit that would be provided
cation certification section (see Step 9). by a joint and survivor benefit.
Under state law, same-sex and opposite-sex domestic
Step 10: Copy and Submit
partners are treated similarly to spouses for benefits Make a copy of both sides of your completed applica-
administered by ETF, including the Wisconsin Retire- tion and mail the original to ETF.
ment System (WRS), group health insurance, deferred
compensation, life insurance and other programs. An
Affidavit of Domestic Partnership form (ET-2371) must
be received and approved by ETF to establish a Chap-
ter 40 domestic partnership. Please see the domestic
partnership information on ETF’s Internet site at http://
etf.wi.gov/publications/domestic_partners.htm or call
ETF to request the packet. When “domestic partner” is
used in this brochure, it means a Chapter 40 domestic
partnership is in effect at ETF.
For more information see Domestic Partner Benefits
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 5 etf.wi.gov
What to Expect After ETF Receives Your Application
Acknowledgement Final Calculation
After ETF processes your application, we will send you Annuity payments begin based on an estimated pay-
an acknowledgement letter titled Notice to Retirement ment amount. The amount is estimated because ETF
Applicant (ET-4414). This form confirms the selections does not always have final information about earnings,
made on your application. Contact ETF if you find any service and contributions when a retirement benefit be-
discrepancies. gins. Between 6 and 12 months after retirement, ETF
will send you a Notice of Final Calculation (ET-4820).
This is a recalculation of your annuity benefit based on
Annuity Payment Statement (Mailer) the final information submitted to ETF by your employ-
The week before you get paid for the first time, ETF will er. At that time, if your annuity was underestimated,
send an Annuity Payment Statement. The statement you will receive a lump sum adjustment for the differ-
shows your first payment amount and a break-down ence. If your annuity was overestimated, your annuity
of any lump sum adjustments for back-pay. After this will be permanently reduced by an amount that results
first statement, ETF only sends a statement if there is a in recovering the overpayment during the life of your
change to your payment (e.g. tax withholding changes, annuity (this is a present value offset). If you wish to
annuity adjustments, etc.). avoid the permanent reduction, you may send a check
to ETF for the overpayment.
Payments are made for the previous month. For exam-
Tax Statement (1099-R)
ple, if you retire on June 1, the first payment is made By the end of January each year, ETF will send you a
July 1 for the month of June. If you retire in the middle 1099-R noting the previous year’s benefits. Occasion-
of the month, your first payment will be prorated based ally, there may be slight delays. You will need this to
on your termination date. Annuities are direct deposited complete your state and federal tax forms.
on the first business day of each month.
Eligibility for Other Benefits
Health Insurance during retirement. Even if you do not intend to continue
coverage after retirement, coverage upon termination
If you are a WRS-covered
may be required to preserve future eligibility, as well
state employee and insured
as eligibility for related benefits like state employee’s
under our group health insur-
conversion of sick leave credits. See your employer’s
ance program, you are enti-
benefits representative for further information.
tled to continue the insurance
for life upon your retirement. If you do continue your WRS covered group health
If you are an insured local insurance, shortly before you or your spouse turn age
government employee when 65 you will receive a reminder to enroll in Medicare
you begin a retirement ben- Parts A and B. Complete Medicare Eligibility Statement
efit, you may continue cover- (ET-4307) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4307.pdf and
age as long as your former return it with a copy of your Medicare card. Your health
employer participates in the program. Whether you are insurance premiums will decrease when you or your
a state or local employee, it is important to be enrolled spouse are enrolled in Medicare.
in an ETF-administered group health plan at the time
of your termination if you intend to continue coverage
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 6 etf.wi.gov
Local Employees payment, the health insurance company will bill you
Employer participates in the Wisconsin Public Em- directly. Premiums change on a yearly basis.
ployer (WPE) Group Health Insurance Program:
For more information, see Group Health Insurance
Employees whose local employer participates in the (ET-4112) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4112.pdf.
WPE Group Health Insurance Program have the right
to continue coverage, but continuation is not automat-
ic. You must have your employer complete the Local Sick Leave
Employer Verification of Health Insurance Coverage State employees may have the right to have accumu-
(ET-4814) and return the form to ETF with your retire- lated sick leave converted to credits for the payment
ment application. This form only applies if your local of health insurance premiums (ASLCC). In general, to
employer participates in the WPE program. After any be eligible, your annuity must begin within 30 days of
employer paid premiums are exhausted, premiums will termination and you must be enrolled in the State of
automatically be deducted from your annuity. These Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program. Premi-
premiums change on a yearly basis. ums are automatically deducted from sick leave cred-
its. You may also enroll in comparable coverage and
Employer does not participate in the Wisconsin
escrow your sick leave credits. Some state employees
Public Employer Group Health Insurance Program
who meet certain eligibility requirements may retain
sick leave credits under other conditions.
Retiring employees whose local employer does not
participate in the WPE Group Health Insurance Pro- For more health insurance related information see:
gram usually have rights to other types of continuation
coverage through their employer. Contact your em- Group Health Insurance (ET-4112) http://etf.wi.gov/
ployer directly for more information. publications/et4112.pdf.
Employees may also be eligible to enroll in the Local For information on premiums see: Retirees (State)
Annuitant Health Program (LAHP). LAHP was estab- Monthly Health Insurance Premiums (ET-4701) http://
lished to provide group health insurance for retirees etf.wi.gov/publications/et4701.pdf.
from local public employers whose group health insur-
ance with their former employer does not meet their Local Health Premium Rates (ET-1730) http://etf.
needs or is not permanently available after retirement. wi.gov/publications/et1730.pdf.
There are two windows of opportunity to sign up for
Sick Leave Conversion Credit Program (ET-4132)
this plan without providing evidence of insurability: one
upon retirement, one when you turn age 65 (at which
time it becomes a supplemental policy). Sick Leave Escrow Application (ET-4305) http://etf.
For more information on this plan, see the Local An-
nuitant Health Program (ET-9019) http://etf.wi.gov/pub- Life Insurance
All state and some local employers participate in the
life insurance program through the WRS. If you are
State Employees enrolled when your annuity begins and you have been
For state employees to continue coverage, your retire- covered for five calendar years, your coverage con-
ment benefit effective date must be within 30 days tinues automatically. The value of your life insurance
after you terminate employment. If it is, the coverage in is based on the highest calendar year earnings period
effect on your termination date will automatically con- reported to ETF. Premiums are required until you turn
tinue. If you do not want coverage to continue during age 65 and will automatically be deducted from your
retirement, you must submit a Health Insurance Ap- annuity payment. The premium amount may increase
plication/Change Form (ET-2301) http://etf.wi.gov/pub- during retirement. Upon turning age 65, any additional
lications/et2301.pdf or a letter to ETF to cancel your or supplemental coverage ends and the basic cover-
health insurance. Former state employees who do not age diminishes to 75% of its maximum. At age 66, the
take an immediate annuity may enroll in the program, basic coverage diminishes to 50% of its maximum. For
but the effective date of their coverage will be delayed. some local employees, at age 67, the basic coverage
Premiums are deducted either from your Accumulated diminishes to 25% of its maximum. If you retire after
Sick Leave Conversion Credits (ASLCC) or from your age 65, any supplemental and additional coverage
annuity. If your annuity is not large enough to make the ends and your basic life insurance will be based upon
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 7 etf.wi.gov
your current age. After your annuity begins, ETF will
send a Certification of Group Life Insurance (ET-4802) For more information, see Buying Creditable Service
that shows the amount of your coverage and how it (ET-4121) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4121.pdf. If
changes as you age. eligible, contact ETF to request an estimate to purchase
Spouse and Dependent Coverage ceases at termina-
tion, as well as for those who have not had coverage in
five calendar years, but it can be converted to a regular Military Service
policy. If you are interested in this, request information In some instances, active U.S. military service before
by completing Conversion Information (ET-2306) http:// 1974 may be counted as WRS creditable service. This
etf.wi.gov/publications/et2306.pdf and return it to Min- can increase a Formula benefit. Eligible members may
nesota Life Insurance. receive one year of military service credit for each five
years of creditable service, up to a maximum of four
If you wish to terminate your life insurance during years. A member who was called to active duty and
retirement, complete Life Insurance Cancellation/Appli- later returned to employment with the same employer
cation/Refusal form (ET-2304) http://etf.wi.gov/publica- may also be eligible for credit for service and earnings
tions/et2304.pdf. under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reem-
ployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Upon reaching its final diminished amount, you may be
eligible to convert your life insurance to pay for health
insurance or long-term care insurance premiums. For For more information, see Military Service Credit (ET-
more information, see Converting Your Group Life 4122) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4122.pdf.
Insurance to Pay Health or Long-Term Care Insurance
Premiums (ET-2325) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/
et2325.pdf. For an estimate of the conversion value of Reciprocity
your life insurance, contact ETF. Limited benefit reciprocity is available between the
WRS, the City of Milwaukee Employes’ Retirement Sys-
For more information, see Group Life Insurance After tem and the Milwaukee County Employees’ Retirement
You Terminate Employment (ET-4104) http://etf.wi.gov/ System. You may benefit from this if you are not yet
publications/et4104.pdf. retired and you have a retirement account with at least
two of these retirement systems.
Creditable Service For more information, see Reciprocity (ET-7364) http://
Buying creditable service can increase an annuity ben- etf.wi.gov/publications/et7364.pdf.
efit. You must purchase the creditable service before
your termination date. See below for the three service
Non-teaching employees who began employment prior
to January 1, 1973 did not “qualify” for participation
in the Wisconsin Retirement System for the first six
months of employment. This qualifying period may be
If you ever took a WRS separation benefit (a lump sum
withdrawal of employee contributions), you forfeited
creditable service and employer contributions and may
Other Governmental Service
If a you worked for a non-WRS government employer,
you may be eligible to purchase WRS creditable ser-
vice for that employment.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 8 etf.wi.gov
Commonly Asked Questions
Is there a Better Time of the Year How Does Variable Participation
to Retire? Affect My Benefits?
If you elected to participate in the Variable Trust Fund,
Money Purchase Annuities
you took on additional investment risk for the potential
A Money Purchase annuity is based on the actual of greater gains, and losses. Deciding whether to re-
money in your retirement account. A Money Purchase main in the Variable Fund is a personal decision, and it
balance changes as a result of contributions and should be based on factors such as: how much of your
interest. For long-term employees, interest usually af- account is in the Variable Fund and your overall risk
fects the account balance the most. Annual interest is tolerance. ETF cannot advise you on the best course
credited to accounts when money is on deposit for the of action because we do not know your personal
entire year. situation and, like you, we cannot predict future stock
If you have not yet terminated employment, you should
determine whether the guaranteed prorated interest
based on your termination date is more advantageous For more detailed information about the affects of Vari-
(5.0% prorated based on the month of termination) or able Fund participation, including canceling participa-
whether you would rather receive the full effective rate tion, see How Participation in the Variable Trust Fund
by staying actively employed for the full calendar year. Affects Your WRS Participation (ET-4930) http://etf.
For more information, see WRS Interest Crediting
(ET-7373) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et7373.pdf. Also see the online video WRS Trust Funds - Core and
A Formula annuity is calculated using the following Will the Amount of my Annuity
formula: Ever Change?
Final Average Earnings (FAE) x Formula Multiplier x Each year, annuities are adjusted based on the market
Creditable Service x Age Reduction Factor results of the prior calendar year. These adjustments
are reflected on the May 1 payment and apply until the
In most cases, the last years of earnings are the high- next adjustment is made the following year. Annuity
est years, so it may be beneficial to complete an ad- adjustments can be positive or negative. Some years
ditional annual earnings period before retirement. For an annuity will receive positive adjustments. Those
teachers, educational support and judges the annual gains can be taken away by market losses at a later
earnings period is the fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). time; however, the Core portion of an annuity cannot
All other employee’s annual earnings are reportable be reduced below the final calculated Core amount of
based on the calendar year. the annuity when it first began. For those who partici-
pate solely in the Core Fund, your annuity will never
drop below your final calculation. There is no limit to
Should I Update My the amount the Variable portion of an annuity can be
Beneficiary Designation? reduced.
You may file a beneficiary designation for any WRS
annuity which has guaranteed payments (Life Annuity For more information, view Annual Annuity Adjust-
with 60/180 Payments Guaranteed or 100% Continued ments in the ETF Video Library or see How Participa-
to Joint Survivor with 180 Payments Guaranteed). You tion in the Variable Trust Affects Your WRS Benefits
may also file one if you have life insurance under the (ET-4930) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4930.pdf and
WRS. Filing a beneficiary designation informs ETF Canceling Variable Participation (ET-2313) http://etf.
who would receive your benefit upon your death. wi.gov/publications/et2313.pdf.
See Beneficiary Designation (ET-2320) http://etf.
wi.gov/publications/et2320.pdf or Beneficiary Designa-
tion-Alternate (ET-2321) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 9 etf.wi.gov
What Happens If I Return to Work? In the Event of Divorce, Can
Work not covered under the WRS (private employ- My Annuity be Affected?
ment) has no impact on your benefit. Upon receipt of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order
(QDRO), ETF can divide your WRS account or annuity
If you return to work for a WRS employer, you can
for marriages legally terminated after 1981 by divorce,
either remain an annuitant or elect coverage under
annulment or legal separation. A QDRO divides an
the WRS (i.e., re-establish your account). If you elect
account or annuity by awarding a percentage to the
coverage, your annuity will stop and WRS coverage
alternate payee (not to exceed 50% of the total value
will begin after ETF receives the completed Rehired
of the account or annuity as of the decree date).
Annuitant Election form (ET-2319) http://etf.wi.gov/
publications/et2319.pdf. After you re-terminate em-
ployment, ETF will determine what you are eligible to For more information, see How Divorce Can Affect
receive, based on your previous annuity and any new Your WRS Benefits (ET-4925) http://etf.wi.gov/publica-
service and earnings. tions/et4925.pdf.
You must make a good faith break in service after ter-
mination and remain terminated from all WRS employ-
ment until the latest of:
the day after your annuity effective date;
the 31st day after your WRS employment termi-
or the 31st day after the date ETF receives your
retirement benefit application.
Part-time elected officials age 55 or older may irrevo-
cably waive coverage under the WRS if terminating all
other covered WRS employment. Complete and send
ETF a Waiver of Part-Time Elected Service form (ET-
4303) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4303.pdf if this
applies to you and you wish to file this waiver.
For more information, see Information for Retirees (ET-
Am I Subject to Minimum Distribution?
If you are 69 ½ or older as of your termination date,
ETF will send you a special letter which explains the
requirements for minimum distribution. You may wait to
begin your annuity until as late as age 71 ½. If you do
not voluntarily begin an annuity by age 71 ½, by law,
ETF must force an automatic distribution.
For more information, see Tax Liability on WRS Bene-
fits (ET-4125) http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4125.pdf.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 10 etf.wi.gov
Accelerated Payment Creditable Service
A WRS annuity option that The years of service for which a WRS member has re-
provides a higher monthly ceived credit under the WRS. This includes all service
payment until the annuitant for which contributions have been made, purchased
reaches age 62. At age 62 the service and any retirement service credit granted by
WRS payments decrease ap- the employer prior to the date the employer joined the
proximately by the amount of WRS.
the annuitant’s projected age-
62 Social Security benefits.
The amount of a new retiree’s first several monthly
Age Reduction Factor payments. Once the employer reports the member’s
A reduction in a WRS For- final earnings, contributions and service, ETF does a
mula retirement benefit when an individual receives a final annuity calculation and adjusts the annuity retro-
retirement benefit before normal retirement age. The active to the annuity effective date.
percentage that the benefit is reduced is based on the
individual’s age and the statutory normal retirement
age for his/her employment category. Final Average Earnings (FAE)
The average monthly earnings component used in a
Formula retirement benefit calculation. The average
Alternate Payee is calculated by adding the highest earnings for three
The former spouse of a WRS member to whom the calendar years (fiscal years for teachers, judges and
court has awarded a percentage of a member’s WRS educational support personnel) and dividing this total
account or annuity through a Qualified Domestic Rela- by the creditable service earned during these years,
tions Order. then dividing by 12. The three years used are those in
which reported earnings were the highest; they do not
need to be consecutive, nor the last years reported.
A series of monthly payments payable during the life of
the annuitant or during a specific period. Forfeited Service
If a member takes a separation benefit (a lump sum
withdrawal of the employee’s contributions), the mem-
Annuity Certain ber’s account is closed. All service and employer
A monthly annuity paid for a specific number of months contributions credited to the account are forfeited. If
only, rather than for the annuitant’s lifetime. A WRS an- the member returns to WRS employment, the forfeited
nuity certain can only be paid from voluntary employee service can be purchased if the member meets certain
additional contributions and is available for a period of eligibility criteria.
24 to 180 months.
Beneficiary A percentage factor used to calculate a Formula
A person, entity, trust or estate designated by a WRS benefit. There are different formula factors for different
member to receive a member’s benefits upon the WRS employment categories.
Core Fund One of the two methods for calculating WRS benefits.
The Core Fund is one of two funds into which the as- A Formula benefit is calculated based on a member’s
sets of the WRS are placed and managed by the State final average earnings, years of service, a formula fac-
of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB). The Core tor based on the member’s employment category(ies),
Fund is a fully diversified, balanced fund containing and any applicable age reduction factor for early retire-
a mixture of holdings such as stocks and bonds. All ment.
WRS members participate in the Core Fund.
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 11 etf.wi.gov
Guarantee Period Other Governmental Service
The minimum number of months for which a life annu- Employment with a non-WRS public employer other
ity will be paid. If the annuitant dies before the guar- than military at the federal, state or local level. Mem-
antee period ends, the beneficiary(ies) will receive the bers may purchase this service.
remainder of the payments.
Joint or Named Survivor Non-teaching members hired prior to January 1, 1973
A member may select one of several joint and survivor were required to serve a qualifying period, usually
monthly annuity options which provide a lifetime annu- the first six months, which was not covered under the
ity for the member and one joint survivor, who is most Wisconsin Retirement Fund (now part of the Wisconsin
often a spouse. The joint survivor must be named on Retirement System).
the annuity application form. Once the annuity option
change deadline has passed, that named joint survi-
vor can never be changed or eliminated. Certain age Separation Benefit
restrictions apply to named survivors who are not the A separation benefit is a lump sum payment of the
member’s spouse. employee contributions and voluntary additional con-
tributions in your retirement account plus accumulated
interest. All service and employer contributions cred-
Life Annuity ited to the account are forfeited through a separation
An annuity paid for the lifetime of the annuitant. benefit.
Lump Sum Payment Variable Fund
A WRS benefit paid to a member, beneficiary or alter- The Variable Retirement Investment Trust is one of
nate payee in one lump sum. two trust funds into which the assets of the WRS are
placed and managed by the State of Wisconsin Invest-
ment Board (SWIB).The variable fund is primarily a
Military Service stock fund, which results in a greater degree of risk
Active service earned in the U.S. armed forces which due to the volatility of the stock market.
is then credited toward retirement for members of the
The minimum amount that federal law requires a quali-
fied retirement plan (such as the WRS) to distribute
from a member’s account by certain deadlines.
Money Purchase Benefit
One of the two methods for calculating WRS benefits.
A Money Purchase benefit is calculated based only on
the applicant’s age when the benefit is paid and the
amount of money in the account available to fund the
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 12 etf.wi.gov
Visit ETF’s Video Library
ETF videos offer easy access to benefit information in an uncomplicated format. Browse our Video
Library at http://etf.wi.gov/webcasts.htm. Follow the Members link for videos on topics such as:
Road to Retirement ̶ Online Retirement Appointment
WRS Payment Options
WRS Trust Funds ̶ Core and Variable
Annual Retirement Annuity Adjustments
Your WRS Benefits
Buying WRS Creditable Service
Wisconsin Deferred Compensation
Social Security Benefits
Medicare and Your WRS Health Insurance Benefits
Returning to Work After Retirement
The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) does not discriminate on the basis of disability
in the provision of programs, services or employment. If you are speech, hearing or visually
impaired and need assistance, call toll free at 1-877-533-5020 or (608) 266-3285 (local Madison).
We will try to find another way to get the information to you in a usable form.
ETF has made every effort to ensure that this brochure is current and accurate. However,
changes in the law or processes since the last revision to this brochure may mean that some
details are not current. Please contact ETF if you have any questions about a particular topic in
ET-4133 (REV 06/2011) Page 13 etf.wi.gov
Contact the Department of Employee Trust Funds
Find Wisconsin Retirement System and related benefit program
information, as well as several ways to contact ETF by e-mail.
1-877-383-1888 (toll free)
(608) 266-2323 (local Madison)
Request forms or brochures through the ETF self-service lines, available
24 hours a day, seven days a week. Annuitants may also call to change
address or tax withholding elections.
Main Telephone Lines
1-877-533-5020 (toll free)
(608) 266-3285 (local Madison)
Employees and employers can speak with an ETF benefit specialist
during office hours from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday (except holidays)
Wisconsin Relay Service (for hearing and speech impaired) 7-1-1 or
Telephone Message Center
1-800-991-5540 (toll free)
(608) 264-6633 (local Madison)
Hear detailed messages covering a variety of WRS topics. Please note
that these are all recorded messages. You can speak with an ETF
benefit specialist by calling the local or toll-free main telephone line.
Department of Employee Trust Funds
P. O. Box 7931
Madison, WI 53707-7931
Schedule an appointment by calling:
1-877-533-5020 ext. 65717 (toll free)
(608) 266-5717 (local Madison)
For appointments in your district, visit
of Employee Trust Funds
801 W. Badger Road
Madison, Wisconsin 53713