Frequently Asked Questions
Retiring and Retired Participants
Thinking About Retiring?
Now That You're Retired
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
- 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
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
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
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
When will ETF notify me of my final monthly
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
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?
To change your financial institution, you must complete a Direct
Deposit Authorization form (ET-7282). Call ETF's toll-free Self-Service
line at 1-877-383-1888 or (608) 266-2323 for a copy. If you are
only changing your account number at your financial institution,
call ETF with this change or complete and mail the ET-7282 form.
Leave your old account open until 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. Please note ETF
can deposit your benefit only into an account held in your name.
Will my retirement checks increase after
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
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
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
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
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
How do I change my tax withholding after
You can change your federal or Wisconsin state income tax withholding
by calling our toll-free, Self-Service Line at 1-877-383-1888 or
(608) 266-2323 (local Madison). You can also complete the Income
Tax Withholding Election Form (ET-4310) and mail it to ETF.
Please allow 30 days for the change to be reflected in your monthly
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.
When can I return to work for a WRS employer
after I retire?
You must remain terminated from all employment that meets participation
standards with a WRS employer for at least 30 days after your termination
date, 30 days after the date you file your application, or until
your annuity effective date, whichever is latest. If you return
to the same WRS employer from which you retired, the 30-day requirement
applies to all employment whether it is covered or not.
What happens if I return to work?
Work not covered under the WRS has no impact on your retirement
benefit. If you return to work for any WRS employer in a qualifying
position, you have two choices:
- You can continue to receive your WRS annuity and continue working,
but you would not be covered under the WRS or earn additional
service credits. Neither you nor your employer would make contributions
to the WRS based on that employment.
- You can elect to become covered under the WRS and have your
WRS annuity stopped. Contributions would be paid on your earnings,
and you would begin to accrue additional creditable service. When
you retire again, your new WRS annuity would be based on your
total creditable service, including the service you earned before
your original retirement. Depending on your age when you were
receiving payments, your new annuity may be offset by the value
of part or all of the payments from your original annuity.
Special rules, which may include an annual
earnings limit, apply to disability benefits. If you receive
a disability benefit, please contact ETF if you would like further
information about how earnings can affect your disability benefit.
You may also view online
videos on disability benefits.
I am a state employee and have sick leave
credits. How does this affect my health insurance premiums when
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
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.
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
- 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.