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Frequently Asked Questions

Deferred Compensation

What is the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program?

The Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program (WDC) is a supplemental retirement savings program authorized under Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The WDC was created by Wisconsin Laws of 1981 Chapter 187 and established in 1982 for state employees; it has been available to local employers since 1985.

You have two options for making contributions:

  1. After-tax Contributions Through the Roth Option: When you choose the Roth option, you pay taxes on the money when you contribute it to the account. As long as you meet certain requirements, when you retire all distributions from your Roth account are tax free. For more information on the Roth option, please go to the WDC's Roth web page.
  2. Before-tax Contributions: Under this option you will not pay taxes on your contributions when you make them. You pay the taxes when you take a distribution from your account, which is usually during retirement.

Who is eligible to participate?

All state and university employees are eligible to participate in this benefit program. The employees of the over 900 local government and school district employers that have adopted the WDC are also eligible.

What are the benefits of this program?

The WDC allows eligible employees an opportunity to save more toward retirement. You may defer up to the lesser of 100% of your gross income or $19,000 in 2019.

I'm getting close to retirement. Does the WDC provide any options for extra savings?

Yes, there are two catch-up provisions that allow individuals nearing normal retirement age to increase their deferrals:

  • the age 50+ catch-up provision allows a participant who is at least age 50 to defer up to $25,000 annually. You may use this provision to make up some or all of any deferrals you did not make in previous years. If you made the full amount of deferrals you were eligible for in previous years, you may not use this provision; and
  • the special 457 catch-up provision allows participants within three years of normal retirement age to contribute up to an additional $19,000, for a total of $38,000 in 2019.

If you are eligible for both the over age 50 catch-up provision and the special 457 catch-up provision, you may use whichever of the two catch-up limits that produces the largest dollar amount, but not both. Click here for more on these catch-up options.

How is the WDC administered?

The Department of Employee Trust Funds and the Deferred Compensation Board have statutory authority for program administration and oversight. The Board contracts for administrative services (marketing, record keeping, daily program administration) through a competitive bid process. Empower Retirement (formerly known as Great-West Retirement Services) is currently under contract to provide these services to the WDC.

How are my deferrals invested?

Currently, 24 core investment options are available to participants. These options include:

  • Two fixed interest options;
  • four commingled funds;
  • Twelve mutual funds;
  • Six target retirement date funds; and
  • One self-directed brokerage option.

Investment choices range from conservative to aggressive and include both actively managed and index funds.

How are the investment options selected?

The Deferred Compensation Board selects and monitors the investment options offered by the WDC. The Board annually reviews the performance of the investment options offered to determine if they continue to meet established benchmarks. Options that are determined to be no longer acceptable may be removed from the WDC and new options may be added.

Can I make changes to my account?

The WDC is as flexible as federal tax law allows. You may change the amount of your deferrals at any time, redirect deferrals to other investment options offered by the WDC, and exchange existing account balances from one option to another subject to the excessive trading policy.

Can I roll dollars in or out of my account?

Yes, you may roll dollars from a traditional individual retirement account (IRA), a 401(k) or 403(b) plan into the WDC. Likewise, if you cease working for a WDC-eligible employer, dollars from your WDC account can be rolled out of the WDC into these programs and may be rolled out to a Roth IRA account as well. Dollars rolled out of the WDC will be subject to the tax rules of the new plan.

How can I enroll in the WDC or make changes to my account?

Plan representatives are available via telephone to assist you between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. every work day of the year and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

The WDC administrative office is located at:

Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program
5325 Wall Street, Suite 2755
Madison, WI 53718-7982
Telephone: 1-877-457-9327
TTY: 1-800-766-4952
FAX: (608) 241-6045

You can access an automated voice response telephone system by calling 1-877-457-9327 on a touch-tone telephone. This system is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. You can obtain personal account information, execute transactions and obtain past investment performance information on the WDC's options.  You can also get information about the WDC or make changes to your accounts at

How often will I receive a statement of account?

You will receive an itemized participant statement, newsletter, and investment performance report within 20 days of the end of each quarter.

Is there a cost to participate in the WDC?

Annual participant fees currently in effect are as follows:

If Participant Balance is Between:

Fee Per Month / is:

Fee Per Year / is:

$0 to $5,000



$5,001 to $25,000



$25,001 to $50,000



$50,001 to $100,000



$100,001 to $150,000



$150,001 to $250,000



Over $250,000



Funding for program administration is provided by participant fees and reimbursements from the investment providers. State funds are not used for the administration of the WDC.

The Board annually reviews administrative revenues and expenses and adjusts participant fees as necessary.

When can I access my WDC funds?

Distributions from your account are available at:

  • termination from service;
  • retirement;
  • death; or
  • unforeseen financial hardship situations, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

After you terminate employment or retire, you may elect a distribution date anytime up to April 1 of the calendar year following the year you reach age 70½ or the year you terminate employment, if later.

What type of distribution options are available?

You may receive your distributions as:

  • a lump sum payment of your full or partial account balance; or
  • periodic ongoing payments (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually); or
  • as an unforeseen emergency release, in the event that you or your beneficiary has experienced a severe financial hardship within the last 12 months. Please note: The determination of an unforeseeable emergency will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Regulations do not consider a planned or voluntary event to be an unforeseen emergency. For more information, review the Unforeseeable Financial Emergency Distribution Guide.

Can I use my WDC account to purchase creditable service in the WRS?

Yes. If you are eligible under the WRS to purchase service, you may use your WDC account balance for this purpose. See Buying Creditable Service ET-4121 for more information.

Where can I find more information on the WDC?

Plan representatives are available via telephone from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to assist eligible employees and participants every work day of the year and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The administrative office is located at:

Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program
5325 Wall Street, Suite 2755
Madison, WI 53718-9327
Telephone: 1-877-457-9327
TTY: 1-800-766-4952
FAX: (608) 241-6045

supporting excellence in Wisconsin public service