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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Retiring and Retired Participants

Thinking About Retiring?

Now That You're Retired

Health Insurance

Life Insurance


Thinking About Retiring?

How do I apply for retirement?

Contact ETF for your retirement estimate form six to 12 months before you think you will retire. This form contains estimates of the amounts you will receive under the various payment options. To apply for your retirement, fill it out and return it to ETF. You can get this estimate by:

  • Calling ETF at 1-877-533-5020 (toll-free) or 1-608-266-3285 (local Madison).
  • Downloading the Retirement Estimate Request (ET-4207), or requesting it from ETF’s self-service line by calling 1-877-383-1888 (toll-free) or 1-608-266-2323 (local Madison).
  • Requesting it online.

Until then, you can use our Retirement Benefits Calculator to project your future retirement benefits, or refer to the Calculating Your Retirement Benefits (ET-4107) brochure for more information.

The How to Retire page contains in-depth information on the retirement process.

When can I apply for retirement?

Send your application form to ETF no sooner than 90 days before your termination date.

Will I lose benefits if I don't apply for retirement immediately?

If ETF receives your application within 90 days after your termination date, we will include retroactive payments. However, if ETF receives your retirement benefit application more than 90 days after you terminate employment, you will lose some benefits since your annuity cannot be backdated to your termination date.

When will I receive my first payment?

If you apply 45 to 90 days before your annuity effective date (normally the day after your termination date), you should receive your first payment about six weeks after your termination date. Your payment will include payments retroactive to your annuity effective date. The payment you receive on the first of each month is for the preceding month.

What if I retire during a month rather than on the first of the month? Will I be paid for the entire month?

No. You are paid retirement benefits only for the days you are actually retired. Your first payment could be for a partial month or for a full month plus a partial month. For example, if your last day of work is May 20, your annuity effective date is May 21. This means that we would add payment for May 21 through May 31 to the payment for the month of June, which you would receive on the first of July.

When will ETF notify me of my final monthly payment amount?

It usually takes six to nine months after you retire for ETF to do the final calculation of your annuity. When the final calculation is done, ETF will send you a final calculation notice that provides the total service, earnings and account balance information on which your final calculation was based. Any retroactive adjustments will be made to your subsequent payment(s).

I selected or am thinking of selecting an accelerated payment option. How does this affect my payments when I retire, and what happens when I reach age 62?

The accelerated payment options may be available if you plan to retire before you reach age 62. These options provide a higher annuity than the regular options before you reach age 62, when you are eligible to apply for your Social Security benefit. Under these options, when you reach age 62 your WRS annuity decreases by the approximate amount of your projected Social Security benefits. The intent is that your before-age-62 annuity from the WRS alone is approximately the same as your combined income from the WRS and Social Security after you reach age 62. The last annuity check to include the temporary portion of your annuity will be the one issued the first of the month following your 62nd birthday. For example, suppose you turn 62 on February 2. Your last annuity check to include the temporary portion will be issued on March 1 (representing payment for February).

When I approach age 62, does ETF contact Social Security about starting my benefit under their program?

No. It is your responsibility to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) about starting your benefit, normally about three months before you reach age 62. You can call SSA at 1-800-772-1213 for information or file your application online.

Can I change my mind and choose a different annuity option after I apply for my retirement benefit?

You can change your annuity option within 60 days after the date of your first monthly payment. ETF must receive your written request to change options no later than 60 days after the date on which your first annuity payment is issued. You cannot change your annuity option after the 60-day deadline.

Is direct deposit required?

Direct deposit is the only payment method available for ETF monthly benefits. ETF may grant exceptions to the direct deposit requirement in rare situations with compelling circumstances. If you believe you have such a situation, please submit a detailed written request to ETF. Once ETF reviews your request, you will receive notification of the decision.

I was granted an exemption from mandatory direct deposit, and my check is sent to my home. What if it doesn't arrive on the first?

If your check does not arrive in the mail, you must wait until the 12th of the month before contacting ETF. Most checks arrive by the 12th, and if ETF stopped payment on the original check it could no longer be cashed. If you know that your check was thrown out by mistake, stolen or destroyed, you may contact ETF immediately. We will stop payment on the missing check and issue a replacement. Even though you were granted an exemption from direct deposit, we strongly advise you to have your check directly deposited in your checking or savings account. This avoids mail service delays.

Now That You're Retired

How do I change my direct deposit for my monthly annuity benefit to a different financial institution?

  • If you want to change to a different financial institution, you must submit a new authorization, the Direct Deposit Authorization form (ET-7282).
  • If you want to change your deposit to a different account within the same financial institution, you can either submit a new authorization form or contact us by telephone or in writing.
  • In either case, do not close your old account until deposits start posting to your new account.

Will my retirement checks increase after I retire?

Each year ETF reviews investment results as of December 31. In the following year, the monthly payments to annuitants may increase or decrease based on this review.

This is not a cost-of-living increase; it is an adjustment based on the investment results of the Core and Variable Funds. Your May 1 payment will reflect this change. It will apply until the next adjustment is made the following year. Annuity adjustments can be positive or negative. Some years your annuity will receive positive adjustments. Those gains can be taken away by market losses in a future year; however, if you participate solely in the Core Fund, your annuity will never drop below your final calculation. There is no limit to the amount the Variable portion of your annuity can be reduced.

The Core annuity adjustment paid on May 1 during the first year after you retire is prorated based on the number of months you were retired during the calendar year you retired. You receive the full Core annuity adjustment in subsequent years. If you participate in the Variable Fund, you receive the full Variable adjustment to the
Variable portion of your annuity every year.

If a Core annuity adjustment would be less than 0.5%, and/or the Variable adjustment would be less than 2%, by law no adjustment is made. Instead, the gains or losses are held over until the following year and included in that year's adjustment.

I am in the Variable Trust Fund. Do I receive adjustments? Can I transfer to the Core Trust Fund after retirement?

Every May 1 we apply an adjustment to the Variable portion of your monthly annuity, based on the investment results of the Variable Trust Fund. The Variable adjustment can be either an increase or a decrease to the Variable portion of your annuity. You may transfer to the Core Trust Fund by submitting a completed Election to Cancel Variable Participation (ET-2313) form to ETF. It becomes effective on the January 1 after it is received.

Will ETF send me a statement every month?

No. ETF sends an Annuitant Statement only when there is a change in your annuity payment (including tax withholding and insurance deduction changes). You will not receive a monthly statement from ETF.

Will I receive a statement for income tax purposes after I retire?

Yes. Every year prior to January 31 we will send a 1099-R form to you for the previous year. This form provides important tax information necessary to file your income tax return, including the year's gross and taxable annuity payments, federal and state tax withholding, health and life insurance premiums and your original investment in contract (amount of contributions actually paid by you with after tax dollars).

How do I change my tax withholding after I retire?

You have three options for changing your withholding:

I've moved. Do I need to notify ETF?

Always notify the ETF if your home address changes. Complete and send our Address/Name Change form (ET-2815) or contact ETF. Even though your monthly payment is deposited directly to your account, you should still notify ETF. We send important materials such as benefit change notices, tax statements and the WRS News to your home address. Please allow up to 30 days for a change of address to be effective.

After I retire, can I take a job with a private employer?

As a retiree, you can work in private employment and your benefits administered by ETF (retirement and health/life insurance) will not change.

After I retire, when can I take a job that’s covered by the WRS?

When you can take a position covered by the WRS depends on when you last terminated WRS employment. Your annuity or lump-sum benefit will be cancelled if you return to WRS-eligible employment before the end of your required break in service.

If you terminated WRS service before July 2, 2013, the earliest day you may return to WRS eligible employment is the latest of the following dates. This is called your break-in-service requirement.

  • The day after the effective date of your annuity.
  • The 31st day after you terminated your WRS participating employment.
  • The 31st day after the date ETF received your benefit application.

    If you terminated WRS service on or after July 2, 2013, the earliest day you may return to WRS eligible employment is the latest of the following dates. This is called your break-in -service requirement.

  • The day after the effective date of your annuity.
  • The 76th day after you terminated your WRS participating employment.
  • The 76th day after the date ETF received your benefit application.

How do I tell if a job I want to take as a rehired annuitant is covered by the WRS?

The human resources department of your prospective employer can tell you if the job you are considering is eligible for coverage under the WRS.

What happens if I take a job that’s covered by the WRS after I meet my break-in-service requirement?

How you are impacted if you take a position covered by the WRS depends on when you last terminated WRS employment.


If You Last Terminated WRS Employment Before July 2, 2013...

If you return to work for any WRS employer in a qualifying position after your required 30-day break, you have two choices:

  1. Remain an annuitant. If you decide to remain an annuitant and continue receiving your WRS annuity, you must file the Rehired Annuitant form (ET-2319) with your employer electing not to participate in the WRS as an active employee. You may elect active WRS coverage in the future, depending on eligibility.
  2. Elect coverage under the WRS. You can elect to become covered under the WRS at any time. If you choose to be covered by the WRS again, you must file the Rehired Annuitant form (ET-2319) with your employer. Your employer will forward this form to ETF. Your annuity will be suspended, and your WRS coverage will begin effective on the first of the month after ETF receives your completed election form.

If You Last Terminated WRS Employment On or After July 2, 2013...

If you return to work for a WRS employer in a position in which you are expected to work at least two-thirds of full time after your required 75-day break, your annuity will be automatically suspended. It will be re-established when you retire again.

If you work less than two-thirds of full time in your new position, what happens to your annuity depends on when you were first employed in a WRS position.

  • If you first began work under the WRS before July 1, 2011, and you return to work for a WRS employer in a position that is at least one-third of full time, but less than two-thirds of full time, you may choose whether you want to continue or stop your annuity.
  • If you first began work under the WRS on or after July 1, 2011, and you return to work for a WRS employer in a position that is less than two-thirds of full time, you may not become a participating employee. Your annuity will continue.

After I retire, when can I take a job with a WRS employer that’s not covered by the WRS?

Whether or not you need to satisfy a break in service (see above) depends on whether you go back to the same employer that you retired from.

  • If your WRS employer is the same employer from whom you retired, the break-in-service requirement applies even though your new job does not meet WRS participation standards.
  • If you are going to work for a different WRS employer, you do not have to satisfy a break-in-service requirement. You can take a non-WRS job at any time.

 

Health Insurance

I am a state employee and have sick leave credits. How does this affect my health insurance premiums when I retire?

If you have comparable insurance, you may escrow your sick leave credits indefinitely. Otherwise, your sick leave credits will automatically be used to pay the premiums for your health insurance. When your sick leave credits are used up, your premiums will automatically be deducted from your annuity. If your annuity is not large enough to cover your premiums, you will be billed directly by the insurance company.

What happens to my health insurance when I or my spouse reach age 65? Are we required to enroll in Medicare? Will I be notified?

When each of you reach age 65, each must enroll for Medicare (both Parts A and B) to continue state or local health insurance. We will automatically mail you a reminder before your 65th birthday. Your premiums decrease when either of you become enrolled in Medicare (both Parts A and B).

I am not a state employee, but my employer participates in the group health insurance program offered through ETF. How do I continue this health insurance when I retire?

We will include information about continuing your coverage in your retirement packet. If your former employer does not pay the premiums, they will be automatically deducted from your annuity if it is large enough. If your annuity is not large enough to cover the premiums, you will be billed directly by your plan.

Life Insurance

If my employer participates in the group life insurance program offered through ETF, do I have to contact the insurance company for further information on continuing my coverage?

No. We will review your records for life insurance coverage and advise you of continuation provisions when we provide retirement information. In most cases, we automatically deduct premiums from your annuity until age 65 with no further action on your part. This information is included in your retirement packet.


For additional information, watch these and many other ETF online videos:

  • WRS-Interest vs. Annuity Adjustments
  • Calculating Your Retirement Benefits Online
  • The Road to Retirement-Online Retirement Appointment
  • WRS Payment Options
  • Returning to Work After Retirement.

Contact Us for additional information.

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