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Employers

Employer Bulletin

All WRS Employers
Vol. 21, No. 12
September 15, 2004

Minimum Retirement Age for Protective Occupation Participants

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is receiving questions about the earliest age at which protective occupation participants can receive a retirement benefit. The explanation provided in this bulletin is for information purposes only. There is no change in employer eligibility determinations, reporting and remittance requirements, or other administrative Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) responsibilities.

The minimum retirement age for “protective occupation participants” is age 50; for all other participants, minimum retirement age is 55. Prior to attaining minimum retirement age, a participant is only eligible for a lump sum separation benefit. A separation benefit consists of the member’s employee-required contributions plus accumulated interest.

For the purpose of determining a participant’s minimum retirement age, “protective occupation participants” include all participants with service in both protective and non-protective categories credited to their WRS accounts.* It does not matter whether the participant is currently working in a protective category position, or whether the WRS termination date is from protective or non-protective employment. In addition, no minimum amount of protective creditable service is required for eligibility for the age 50 minimum retirement age.

The retirement benefit calculation for participants with service in both protective and non-protective employment categories is the same, regardless of their employment category at the time they terminate WRS employment. The retirement benefit is calculated separately, based on the creditable service in each employment category and the participant’s actual age at the time the retirement benefit begins. The portion of the retirement benefit based on non-protective service is calculated using the full actuarial reduction for the earlier retirement age, meaning there will be a significant age reduction applied to that portion of the retirement benefit based on non-protective service. The benefit amount could be significantly less than it would be if the participant were age 55 or older.

The January 1, 2005, annual Statement of Benefits will note that all participants with protective category service are eligible for a retirement benefit as early as age 50. ETF recently sent letters reviewing the age 50 minimum retirement age eligibility to inactive participants with protective service (other than purchased) who terminated WRS employment from a non-protective category. Participants who have questions about their retirement benefit eligibility or would like retirement estimates can contact ETF in writing through ETF’s Internet site at http://etf.wi.gov, or by calling toll free at 1-877-533-5020 or (608) 266-3285 (local Madison).

*Note: If a participant’s only protective category service is purchased service (e.g. previously forfeited protective service that the participant has repurchased), that purchased protective service does not give the participant rights to a retirement benefit at age 50. Participants must have actually earned some creditable protective category service based on employment with a WRS employer since their WRS coverage began to qualify for a retirement benefit at age 50.

 

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