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Employer Bulletin

All State and Local Employers
Vol. 20, No. 16
November 7, 2003

Termination Dates Required for Receipt of Disability Benefits; Department Now Offers Small Group Retirement Counseling Sessions

The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) offers disability retirement and long-term disability insurance benefits for WRS covered participants who meet the eligibility requirements. To apply for disability benefits, an employee does not have to be terminated from WRS employment. However, once a disability retirement benefit has been tentatively approved, the employee must terminate from WRS covered employment in order to receive the disability benefit payments. This requires the employee to completely sever the employment relationship with the WRS employer. The employee must submit a letter of resignation to the employer.

Upon notification from Department of Employee Trust Funds (DETF) disability specialists, employers must submit a termination date to DETF so the employee can receive the disability benefit payments. The employee must have submitted their resignation/termination notice before the employer submits a termination date to DETF.

Determining the Termination Date

Prompt reporting is essential for the efficient administration of the WRS. For employers reporting periodic transactions on paper, the detailed employee earnings and service information must be submitted within one week of the event or within one week of the employee's last paycheck (for employees terminating or going on medical leave).

It is important for employers to be prompt and accurate when reporting detailed earnings and service information. Prompt reporting allows DETF to provide timely benefit payments and maintain accurate and up-to-date information on WRS member accounts. Termination dates may be submitted to DETF on an Employee Transaction Report (ET-2533), through electronic media, or on the Employer Statement (ET-5607) for employees applying for a disability benefit.

Termination rule, Wis. Adm. Code ETF 10.08 (3), provides criteria for determining the termination date. The date reported to DETF should be the earliest of:

  • The date an unpaid leave of absence expires when an employee fails to return to work following an unpaid leave.
  • The date three years after an unpaid leave of absence began, except for military leave or union service leave.
  • The date on which the employer discharges the employee.
  • The date the employer determines that the employer-employee relationship terminates, except that the effective date of the termination cannot be earlier than the date on which the employer notifies the employee of the termination.
  • The last date for which the employee receives earnings for personal services rendered to or on behalf of the employer, unless the employer has granted an unpaid leave of absence for a period of time after this date.
  • The date on which the employee's voluntary resignation is effective as accepted by the employer, or if later, the date on which the employer receives the employee's notice of resignation. Retroactive resignation is not permitted.
  • The date of the employee's death.

For information about reporting terminations, refer to the WRS Administration Manual (ET-1127), Chapter 8 - Employee Transaction Reporting; Chapter 12 - Electronic Media Reporting; and Chapter 14 - Termination Rule and Reporting.

An employee cannot be a WRS-participating employee and an annuitant (including a disability annuitant) at the same time. If the employee does not terminate from WRS covered employment, then the employer will have to reverse their statement that indicates the person is not expected to resume active service and the benefit will be denied. Prompt and accurate reporting of final service and earnings will help ensure that benefits are paid timely and accurately.

Benefit/Termination Information

All employees eligible for WRS participation must receive a copy of Your Benefit Handbook (ET-2119) when they are enrolled in the WRS. When an employee terminates participating employment, plans to retire, or becomes disabled, the employee must be given a Request for Benefit Information (ET-7301) to complete and mail to DETF as noted in Chapter 17 of the WRS Administration Manual. Employees with questions regarding benefit programs administered by DETF are to be referred to DETF's Member Call Center toll-free at 1-877-533-2020 or locally in the Madison area at 266-3285.

Employers may contact the Employer Communication Center at (608) 264-7900 for additional information or with their questions.

Small Group Counseling

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (DETF) is now offering on-site group counseling sessions for Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) participants. The two-hour sessions are held twice a week in DETF's Madison office: Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and Thursdays at 8:30 a.m.

The goal of this new service is to provide additional counseling opportunities for individuals who may not want to wait six to eight weeks for individual appointments. It's also a convenient alternative to coming in without an appointment and having to wait to see a counselor.

In a group counseling session, participants receive an overview of WRS benefits and annuity calculations along with a step-by-step explanation of the retirement estimate, the annuity options and the application process. The content of the session has been designed with the goal of providing participants with the information needed to make informed WRS retirement decisions. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.

An additional benefit of these sessions is the interaction with other WRS participants who are considering retirement and who have relevant questions, comments and information on the retirement process to share. Participant evaluations of these sessions have stated that not only were the sessions informative, they were also enjoyable.

Group counseling attendees must:

  • Be within one year of minimum retirement age.
  • Have a valid retirement estimate.
  • Bring their retirement packet to the session.

While it is necessary to make an appointment for group counseling, attendance at a group counseling session can be scheduled much sooner than an individual appointment. Call DETF's appointment line at (608) 266-5717 to make a group counseling appointment.

Please share this information with your employees who are considering retirement.


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