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Retirement Benefits

If you are age 55 or older (age 50 if you have protective category service other than purchased protective service) and are vested under the WRS, once you terminate all WRS employment you are eligible for a retirement benefit. If you are not vested, you may only receive a separation benefit.

You may have to meet one of two vesting laws depending on when you first began WRS employment. If neither vesting law applies, you were vested when you first began WRS employment.

  • If you first began WRS employment after 1989 and terminated employment before April 24, 1998, then you must have some WRS creditable service in five calendar years.
  • If you first began WRS employment on or after July 1, 2011, then you must have five years of WRS creditable service.

There are two methods of calculating retirement benefits: the formula and money purchase methods. You are entitled to the higher of the two amounts.

  • Your formula benefit is based on your three highest years of earnings (your "final average earnings"), a formula multiplier based on your employment category, your years of creditable service (including any creditable military service) and any actuarial reduction for early retirement.

  • Your money purchase retirement benefit is calculated by multiplying the money purchase balance times a money purchase factor based on your age. Your money purchase balance generally consists of your employee required contributions, plus interest, plus a matching amount of employer contributions. This money purchase balance is shown on your annual Statement of Benefits.

ETF provides retirement estimates up to one year in advance of your anticipated retirement date. Information about projecting your retirement benefits at different ages may also be helpful for planning purposes.

In most cases a retirement benefit is paid as a monthly annuity; however, if the account is fairly small, a lump sum may be payable instead. All annuities from required contributions are paid to the participant for life, and the participant may choose from monthly options that provide different levels of death benefit protection. The greater the death benefit protection that you choose to provide, the more your annuity will be reduced to pay for the extra protection. If when your benefit begins you have been married for at least a full year to your current spouse or in a registered domestic partnership with the same partner, you may need your spouse's or domestic partner's signature consenting to the option you select.

If you are considering retiring within the next year you should contact ETF to request a complete retirement estimate packet.

If you are terminating employment because you have become disabled you may be eligible for Disability Benefits. If this is your situation, please notify us as soon as possible and we will provide disability benefit information.

You may call ETF to request benefit information at 1 (877) 533-5020 or (608) 266-3285 local Madison; or you may complete a Benefit Information Request form (ET-7301) and send it to us at:

Department of Employee Trust Funds
P.O. Box 7931
Madison, WI 53707-7931

For more detailed information, review these ETF resources:


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