WRS News Online Vol. 3, No. 3 - September 2017
For State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program Participants
Board Approves 2018 State Group Health Insurance
Health plans participating in the state group health insurance program will have a 0% premium increase next year, as approved by the Group Insurance Board last week. Local government employees who participate in the program will have an overall 3.3% premium increase
The It's Your Choice open enrollment period is October 2-27. This is when you can make changes for next year, including switching health plans, adding supplemental benefits, changing coverage levels or adding/deleting certain dependents, for an effective date of January 1, 2018.
The Board also approved 10 fully insured health plans, the tier structure and the coverage areas to be offered in 2018. Almost all current health care providers (i.e., doctors, specialists) will be covered. Fewer than 2% of members will need to change providers; that percentage may decrease with ongoing provider contracting.
Note: Approximately 42,000 members, including employees, retirees and their dependents, will need to choose a new plan during open enrollment, due to the following six plans leaving the program:
- Anthem Blue Preferred Northeast
- Arise Health Plan
- Health Tradition Health Plan
- Humana Eastern and Western, including Medicare Advantage
- UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin
- WPS contract terminates December 31, 2017. These members will be automatically enrolled with WEA Trust if they do not select a different plan during open enrollment
2018 Health Plans
The health plans to be offered in 2018 have consistently scored high in quality ratings, have had fewer member grievances and have lower administrative fees. These county-based plans will be Tier 1 for state members, which means they meet program requirements for cost, quality and access.
It's Your Choice Health Plan and High Deductible Health Plans:
- Dean Health Insurance and Dean Health Insurance-Prevea360
- Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire
- Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
- HealthPartners Health Plan
- Medical Associates Health Plans
- MercyCare Health Plans
- Network Health
- Security Health Plan – Central and Valley
- Quartz – Community and UW Health (formerly Gundersen, Physicians Plus and Unity)
- WEA Trust – East, Northwest Chippewa Valley and Mayo Clinic Health System
The It's Your Choice Access Plan, Access High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), Medicare Plus, State Maintenance Plan (SMP) and SMP HDHP:
- WEA Trust
Premium Rates for 2018
The 0% premium rate change is a result of effective contract negotiations that focused on avoiding passing on additional costs to members, and the Board's decision to draw down the state program reserve by $29 million.
The Department of Administration's Division of Personnel Management determines the state employee contribution portion of the health insurance premiums, as well as the employer contribution to the Health Savings Account. These amounts will be released in September.
While there is no increase overall for state retirees, there are fluctuations with individual health plan premiums.
Rates for participating local government employees and retirees will increase 3.3%. The Board approved the recommendation of the actuaries to not draw down the local program reserves because the balances were not enough to significantly affect the premium rates.
Other Board Action
- Pharmacy Benefits – The Board approved some additional pharmacy benefit changes; other changes were approved in May. These include:
- CVS pharmacies, including Target pharmacies, will no longer be in-network
- Certain over-the-counter medications for non-Medicare participants will no longer be covered
- Non-Medicare participants must fill Level 4 prescriptions at mandatory specialty pharmacies – Lumicera or UW Specialty Pharmacies
- New mail order pharmacy will be Serve You
- New discount drug list will include drugs used for infertility, weight loss, cosmetic and lifestyle needs as prescribed
- State and Local Group Life Insurance – premium rates and benefits will not change in 2018
- EPIC Benefits+ and EPIC Dental Wisconsin – participants will see relatively minor changes to benefits and premium rates in 2018
- New Vice Chair – the Board elected Stacey Rolston, Department of Administration, as the Vice Chair
For More Information
It's Your Choice open enrollment materials will be available in late September, these will include a new interactive online map, revamped Decision Guides and helpful eLearning modules.
2018 Health Plans by County - State Program
2018 Health Plans by County - Local Program
2018 Health Plans - Quality Ratings and Provider Directories
Q&A for 2018 Health Plan Changes
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by Tarna Hunter, Director of Strategic Engagement and Government Relations
In June the Joint Committee on Finance took action on the Department of Employee Trust Funds part of the 2017-2019 executive state budget, a proposal of how the state should manage expenses for the next two years. The budget bills, 2017 Assembly Bill 64 and 2017 Senate Bill 30, are currently before JCF and are delayed past the July 1 start of the fiscal biennium.
When the JCF has finished making its recommended changes, the Assembly and Senate further review it and, ultimately, the budget is to be presented to the Governor for signature. The Governor can also veto the bill in whole or in part.
The JCF made modifications to the following provisions (proposals) affecting benefit programs that ETF administers:
Domestic Partnership Program — Eliminates the Chapter 40 domestic partnership program on the effective date of the bill; however, grandfathers existing domestic partnerships for purposes of Wisconsin Retirement System benefits. Additionally, group health insurance coverage under a group health plan offered by the Group Insurance Board would no longer be extended to an employee's domestic partner, effective January 1, 2018. It also provides that a surviving domestic partner is not a default beneficiary for purposes of a deferred compensation plan and is not eligible to receive duty disability survivor benefits for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2018.
✔ Modification: The change allows a surviving domestic partner of a member to purchase group health insurance coverage at full price, if the surviving domestic partner was covered by a state group health plan at the time of the member's death.
It also modifies the provision relating to duty disability benefits to specify that the effective date of January 1, 2018, apply to the date on which the protective occupation employee experienced a work-related injury or was diagnosed with a work-related disease rather than the date of the death of the employee. In addition, specify that if the surviving spouse of a protective occupation participant was either the spouse or the domestic partner of the participant when the participant became disabled, the surviving spouse may be eligible for a death benefit.
Self-Insurance Savings — The budget assumes the Group Insurance Board will transition to a self-insured group health model starting January 1, 2018. The projected savings are $20 million GPR in Fiscal Year 2018 and $40 million in General Program Revenue Fiscal Year 2019.
✔ Modification: The JCF rejected the self-insurance contracts during their s. 13.10 meeting on June 15. The JCF proposed a number of changes to the group health insurance program during the June 15 executive session, including:
Directs GIB to find $63.9 million GPR savings for the 2017-19 biennium, including:
- $22.7M GPR savings from negotiations
- $25.8M GPR draw from the reserves (which translates to $68.8m All Funds)
- $15.4M GPR from aggressive tiering, and/or additional reserve draw down, and/or plan design changes (subject to the 10% employee cost increase limitation).
- The group health insurance program would maintain its current program structure.
- Moves the group health insurance program from a 3-tier to a 5-tier structure.
- Requires that ETF conduct a consumer-driven health plan educational campaign.
- Increases legislative input and oversight authority over the group health insurance program:
- Addition of four GIB members appointed by legislative leadership of each party in both houses;
- Senate confirmation of GIB appointees;
- Provides that GIB submit a plan by March 1, 2018, to JCF for approval under a 21-working day passive review regarding state program reserves;
- Provides for an annual April 1 JCF 21-working day passive review of all proposed benefit changes; and
- Request that the Legislative Audit Committee direct the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an audit of the group health insurance program and reserves.
ETF will continue reviewing the budget bill to identify all implications for the WRS and ETF-administered benefit programs. After the JCF has finished making recommendations on the budget bill, it becomes a substitute amendment to the Governor's budget bill and is then considered by the full Legislature. The Legislature will deliver an amended budget bill to the Governor for review, approval and/or partial veto of the budget to be effective the day after publication.
SWIB Will Continue to Be Innovative, Agile and Work for WRS Members
by Michael Williamson, SWIB Executive Director
In 1976 I accepted a job with the town of Waynesville, N.C., obtaining rights-of-way from property owners so the town could build a sewer line. It was my first job after college and it began a 41-year career in public service. This December, that journey will draw to a close when I retire from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Over the course of four decades I have been blessed with opportunities to serve at numerous levels of state and local government as well as in higher education. It has been quite a ride.
My time at SWIB started not long after our country experienced the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression. Like every other public pension system across the country, the Wisconsin Retirement System experienced significant losses. Because of the unique design of the system, all WRS members felt the impact of those losses through increased contribution rates and decreases in annuities.
When measuring the success of the WRS, many will immediately point to investment returns. After all, making money is one of our top priorities. But what is sometimes overlooked is how we make the money and how we help protect the funds from another financial crash. Since my arrival at SWIB five years ago, many of you have read or heard me talk about our investment strategy and how we have built in increased protections to help keep annuity adjustments positive and contribution rates stable.
While our strategy is important, it alone is not what makes money. In today's highly sophisticated financial world, remaining at the forefront requires highly qualified people with access to the tools they need to make decisions and implement complex investment strategies that will benefit the WRS.
SWIB just put the finishing touches on a pioneering technology upgrade that is focused on ensuring staff continue to have the tools, processes and data needed to better manage the retirement assets. The implementation of the new technology is significant, not only for SWIB, but also for our industry. The new state-of-the-art technology improves our access to high quality and timely financial data. It will also help us implement more complex investment ideas in our overall investment strategy. Combining the technology with highly qualified staff is critical to SWIB remaining competitive and making informed investment decisions as we manage increasing amounts of assets internally.
I am grateful for my time at SWIB and I am proud of the work we have accomplished. SWIB is more innovative, agile, and integrated as an organization and in a better position to optimize investment returns while navigating the choppy financial waters around us. You can rest assured that SWIB will continue to invest first to help protect you from another financial downturn and then to earn reasonable returns.
The new tools we have put in place will help keep SWIB in the forefront. I am going to miss being part of this great organization and working for you. I have greatly enjoyed traveling the state and getting to meet and talk with many public employees and retirees. But I am also looking forward to joining you as a beneficiary, while knowing that SWIB and the WRS are well positioned for future success.
Why Active Management Matters
The State of Wisconsin Investment Board has long been considered a low-cost pension fund manager that provides solid returns for the Wisconsin Retirement System. One way SWIB manages its costs effectively, provides respectable returns, and helps protect the WRS from another market downturn is through a combination of active and passive management of the trust funds.
Active management refers to a portfolio management strategy where the manager makes specific investments using analytical research, forecasts, and his or her own judgement and experience with the goal of outperforming similar investments in the market. Passive management, also known as indexing, is a style of management that attempts to match the results of a basket of investments such as the S&P 500. Passive management strives to equal what the market delivers.
SWIB's use of both active and passive management varies by the type of investment and depends on market efficiencies and management options. SWIB employs an active management strategy that is intended to produce value added over and above passive investments. Over time, SWIB has shown an ability to produce active returns and generate value above what the market generates for the benefit of the trust funds and the beneficiaries.
Over the past five years, SWIB has generated valued added in excess of $1.2 billion, which helps pay benefits and defray costs of administering the retirement system.
SWIB's multi-pronged approach to active management spans many different strategies to ensure there is a well-balanced approach to generate value added. One strategy that SWIB uses for active management is hedge funds. From our point of view, hedge funds are active managers with broader ability to produce value added over time.
So, what is a hedge fund? Hedge funds are investment partnerships between a fund manager and investors. Investors, like SWIB, contribute money to the fund, which the manager invests according to the fund's specific strategy. Hedge funds can invest in anything including land, real estate, stocks and currencies. This is different than a mutual fund which typically holds only stocks or bonds.
SWIB's approach is different than that of many peers that have recently decreased or eliminated their hedge fund allocations. Many of them were using hedge funds to generate returns they could have achieved less expensively by passively managing the funds. SWIB seeks out hedge funds that generate active management returns. By using hedge funds as part of a broader strategy focused on producing active returns above passive stock and bond market performance, we are better able to generate extra returns.
SWIB began investing in hedge funds in 2011. Since those initial investments, we have been taking a thoughtful and prudent approach to increasing hedge fund investments as part of a broader approach to active management.
SWIB closely monitors its hedge fund investments and requires a high level of transparency from the managers. The managers are required to provide audited financial statements, exposure reports, and performance and strategy updates. As part of the monitoring and reporting process, SWIB partners with an independent organization to perform risk analytics, modeling and reporting on hedge fund holdings.
Hedge funds, as part of SWIB's overall investment strategy, are helping to grow and protect the assets of the WRS.
Nominations Sought for Technical College Teacher Member Seat
Here's a great opportunity to serve on an important Wisconsin Retirement System governing board: ETF has issued a call for nomination papers for serving on the Teachers Retirement Board as the technical college district teacher member. Any WRS teacher participant employed by a Wisconsin technical college is eligible to run for this seat on the board. The term of office begins in May 2018.
For an insider's perspective on the rewards of serving on the board, see current board member R. Thomas Pedersen's column, Wanted: Community-Minded Technical College Teacher.
Download a nomination packet now. You may also request a packet by writing to: ETF, Teachers Retirement Board Liaison, P.O. Box 7931, Madison, WI 53707-7931; or send an e-mail to BoardElections@etf.wi.gov. Completed nomination materials must be received by ETF by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.
For information on the WRS governing boards, including current board rosters, board member responsibilities, meeting schedules and agendas, visit our Governing Board webpages.
Why Are You in Public Service?
"Growing up in a large family that farmed, my mom would say, 'if someone needs your help, you should do what you can to help them. I am in public service to be a part of an even larger family devoted to helping others. I take great pride in that."
Maggie, protective occupation employee and WRS member, Madison, WI
Why are you in public service? Tell us why you are working to serve the public, your community and the people of Wisconsin. Take our survey today!
WRS Employee Benefits Seminars Set for Fall
Attend a Wisconsin Retirement System employee benefits seminar and come away with a greater understanding of your WRS benefits and how they work. These one-hour evening presentations, hosted by the Department of Employee Trust Funds in cities throughout Wisconsin, are designed for all members, especially those who are within five years of retirement. Topics covered include the retirement process itself, return-to-work rules, the Core and Variable Trust Funds, beneficiary designations, purchasing service, how "life events" affect your benefits, and much more. Questions are encouraged!
- All presentations 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with Q & A time afterward
- No registration needed. All sites are handicap accessible
WRS employee benefits seminars have been scheduled in the following cities: Ashland, Cleveland, Eau Claire, Janesville, Menomonee Falls, Rhinelander, Superior, Verona and Wisconsin Rapids. For dates and locations, consult our interactive map.
Caution: Some Retirement-Related Choices Cannot Be Changed
Some decisions that members make at retirement can be changed post-retirement, such as tax withholding and beneficiary designations. Some decisions cannot be changed. The following scenarios are good examples of members misunderstanding their annuity options at the time they retired.
Removing a joint survivor from annuity
A joint survivor, also called a named survivor, is the person chosen by a WRS member on their retirement application. When he retired, "Tom" listed his then-girlfriend, "Alice," as his joint survivor on his application. Alice is now Tom's former girlfriend and he wants to remove her from his joint survivor annuity. Only a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order can divide an account or annuity in the case of a divorce or a termination of a domestic partnership.
Tom and Alice were neither married nor in a domestic partnership, so a QDRO cannot be used to in this instance; therefore, it's impossible to remove Alice from the annuity.
Family cannot change annuity option
"Patricia," a WRS member, retired at age 66 and chose a "straight life" annuity option. She incorrectly told her family that in the event of her death they would receive a lump sum payment from the WRS. Patricia died 30 days after receiving her first annuity payment; later, her daughter inquired about the lump sum payment. However, as per her straight life annuity, Patricia's payments ended upon her death. The family asked if they could change Patricia's annuity option to one that would continue after her death; however, that is not possible. Under state law members can change their annuity options if the request is received by ETF within 60 days after the date of the first annuity payment. The law specifies that this option change is an opportunity for the member only.
Our advice: Understand which option you chose when you retired, including what happens to your annuity in the event of your death. Keep all retirement paperwork for future reference, and consider having a friend or a relative review these materials and our website resources with you.
Wanted: Community-Minded Technical College Teacher
R. Thomas Pedersen
by R. Thomas Pedersen, Board Member
The Wisconsin Retirement System has a vacancy on the Teachers Retirement Board for a technical college teacher member. The board membership involves:
It has been my privilege to occupy the technical college seat for which, because of retirement, I no longer qualify. I am an enthusiastic member and supporter of the WRS — one of the largest, soundest, and most-respected retirement systems in the country. Please consider this opportunity to become involved!
I'm happy to discuss questions at any time. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Thank you for your consideration! To get started, download an official nomination packet now.
SWIB Analyst Honored as Industry 'Rising Star'
Jason Rector, a State of Wisconsin Investment Board analyst, has no problem working behind the scenes for Wisconsin Retirement System members — but that doesn't mean the work he is doing goes unnoticed.
Institutional Investor magazine, along with its sister publication, Alpha, recognized Rector as a 2017 Hedge Fund Rising Star, one of 30 up-and-comers in the hedge fund industry. The Rising Stars are nominated by their colleagues and industry peers.
The awards recognize the rising stars of investment consultants, endowments, foundations, family offices, corporate funds, as well as those of public pension funds, for their performance innovation, achievements and contributions to the industry in the past year. Past SWIB Rising Stars include other members of the SWIB team, two-time award winner Dominic Garcia, portfolio manager, and Derek Drummond, managing analyst.
Rector was also honored by Chief Investment Officer by being named the magazine's Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty list. The list, compiled based on anonymous nominations, brings together 40 asset owners under the age of 40 from around the world who show a strong passion for their work and the ability to become potential game changers — if they aren't already.
Although he is honored by the recognitions, Rector says the award is about the work the entire SWIB organization is doing to benefit the WRS. "These awards reflect the strong team we have at SWIB," Rector said. "To me, this award demonstrates how the entire organization works together to deliver value for our members."
Changes to Group Life Insurance
Did you know that recent changes to administrative rules broadened the definition of "dependent" for life insurance purposes? The new definition expands coverage for dependents from birth until age 26, removing the requirements that the dependent be:
- more than 14 days old; and
- a full-time student if over age 19 (up to age 26)
The requirement that the employee be responsible for at least 50% of dependent support and maintenance has also been removed.
What does this mean for you? If you currently have spouse and dependent coverage under the state's group life insurance program, you don't have to do anything to receive the benefit of the broader coverage. For example:
- If you just had a baby and your child is not yet 14 days old, the baby is covered;
- If your child is over age 19, but is no longer in school, is married (or both), your child is now covered until he or she reaches age 26.
If you recently cancelled your spouse and dependent coverage because you don't have a spouse and your dependent is over age 19 and no longer a student or has married, you can easily add them back on to your policy. Complete the Evidence of Insurability Application form (ET-2305) and submit it to Securian Financial Group. Dependents are not underwritten.
Note: If you currently do not have spouse and dependent coverage, but would like it, you must be an eligible employee under age 70 and your employer must offer this plan. You must also have the Basic Plan or file an application for Basic coverage at the same time you apply for the spouse and dependent coverage.
For additional information about the group life insurance program, contact your employer or visit http://etf.wi.gov/members/benefits_life_ins.htm
Which Annuity Option Should You Pick?
Your Wisconsin Retirement System retirement application will list all of the annuity options available to you. No matter which option you select, your annuity is paid to you for your entire life. It may also extend beyond your lifetime (e.g., to cover beneficiaries or fulfill a guaranteed number of payments), depending on which option you select and how long you live. Here are the many ways we can help you make a fully-informed decision:
- Take in a live, interactive webinar, Annuity Options. Feel free to ask questions or just listen along.
- Review our brochure, Choosing an Annuity Option (ET-4117)
- Watch our brief video, WRS Annuity Payment Options-Receiving Your Retirement Benefit.
- Call ETF toll-free at 1-877-533-5020.
- Send an email or write to: ETF, P.O. Box 7931, Madison, WI 53707-7931.
WDC Participants: Schedule Your Retirement Readiness Review
Are you financially prepared for retirement? A Retirement Readiness Review, offered by the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program (WDC), will help you find out. During this personalized review, you and your local WDC representative will go over your future pension, other sources of retirement income and projected future expenses in order to create a plan to achieve your retirement goals.
To set up a review, visit the WDC website and click on Schedule a Meeting or call the WDC at 877-457-9327. Note: This service is offered to WDC participants only. If you're interested in opening a WDC account, check with your employer to see if this program is available to you.
Projections for Effective Rates and Annuity Adjustments
Your Wisconsin Retirement System account is credited annually with the effective rates of interest — Core and Variable (if applicable). These rates are announced in February, after final calendar year investment returns have been determined and an actuarial analysis conducted. What can you expect in terms of the rates next spring?
For the Core Trust Fund, returns as of July 31 were 9.6%. If this figure were the finalized net return for the year, it would, when combined with investment gains and losses already in the books (smoothing), likely produce an effective rate of 7.0% to 7.4%.
However, the year is far from over and the solid market performance we've seen to date could stall or reverse itself. As a reminder, earlier this year ETF ran Core effective rate and Core annuity adjustment (for retirees) projections using investment return scenarios of 7.2%, 5% and 0% and presented this information to the ETF Board. The projections are shown below:
Core Effective Rates & Annuity Adjustments
2017 Core Trust Fund Finalized Net Investment Return
6.6% to 7.0%
0.5% to 0.9%
6.2% to 6.6%
5.2% to 5.6%
0.0% to -.80%
For More Information
- ETF presents projections for the Core annuity adjustment and Core effective rate annually in March. Review the board materials from March 2017.
- Bookmark this WRS Trust Funds Investment Performance page and check it monthly for preliminary, year-to-date investment results
- Follow ETF on Twitter — we announce the news around the 10th business day of each month.
- Sign up to receive email notification via ETF E-mail Updates.
Benefit/Health Fairs, Webinars are Great Learning Opportunities
Stay informed about your Wisconsin Retirement System benefits and how they work for you! Whether you are a new hire, mid-career or nearing retirement, ETF has a learning opportunities applicable to where your circumstances and where you live.
Attend a Benefit Health Fair This Fall
ETF has scheduled 26 benefit/health fairs throughout the state during the It's Your Choice open enrollment period, October 2-27.
The fairs present a great opportunity to ask questions about all ETF-administered benefit programs, including retirement and health insurance. To find one near you:
- Use ETF's interactive map showing benefit/health fairs by region, date, location.
- Contact ETF: Call 1-877-533-5020 or send an email via the Contact ETF page on our website.
Live, Interactive Webinars
ETF's webinars are conducted by a benefits specialist and focus on a single topic of interest. Webinars over the next several months will cover these important topics:
- How to use our online calculator to request a retirement benefit estimate
- How to enhance your benefit by making additional contributions
- WRS annuity payment options
- Choosing a retirement date
- Five key steps to prepare for retirement
- The Variable Trust Fund and how it affects your benefits
- WRS employer and employee contribution rates
- WRS effective rates and annuity adjustments
Search Under Way for New Executive Director
The State of Wisconsin Investment Board announced in June that Michael Williamson will retire as executive director at the end of 2017. The Board of Trustees has launched a nation-wide search for Williamson's replacement and plans to have the position filled prior to his retirement.
The Board of Trustees hired Williamson as executive director in June 2012. Under Williamson's leadership, SWIB continued its tradition of being a valuable partner for the state of Wisconsin and its public employees. SWIB added more than $1 billion above market returns for the funds it manages while vastly improving the infrastructure of systems, controls and measurement used to run the organization. Also during Williamson's tenure, SWIB's above-market returns contributed significant value to the Wisconsin Retirement System, which is one of the country's best funded public employee retirement systems.
"Michael's leadership has ensured the Investment Board stayed focused on its mission and delivered value to the state of Wisconsin," said David Stein, Board of Trustees chair. "Michael provided steady leadership for the organization as it navigated through difficult financial times and a major transformation of its operations. I am confident in the path Michael has put SWIB on and am looking forward to our next executive director continuing that progress."
Senate Confirms Reappointment of Two Trustees
Board Chair David Stein and Vice Chair Norman Cummings have been reappointed to serve on the Board of Trustees for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. The trustees are gubernatorial appointments. The Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues recommended reappointing Stein and Cummings. The recommendations were approved by the Senate in June. Both trustees will serve six-year terms that expire in May 2023.
Stein was originally appointed to the Board in 2014. He is executive vice president and head of consumer and business banking for Green Bay-based Associated Banc Corp, the largest bank holding company headquartered in Wisconsin. In this capacity, he leads the bank's efforts directed at consumers and small businesses across its Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota footprint. His role encompasses oversight of the bank's 230 branches, mortgage company, brokerage company and card businesses. He is chairman of Associated Investment Services and is a director of Associated Financial Group and the Associated Banc-Corp Foundation.
Cummings, the director of administration for Waukesha County, was originally appointed to the Board in 2011. He previously served as finance director for Waukesha County and worked for the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau.
2017 Well Wisconsin Incentive Deadline October 20
Employees and their spouses/domestic partners enrolled in the State of Wisconsin or Wisconsin Public Employers Group Health Insurance Programs still have time to earn the $150 Well Wisconsin incentive through StayWell. The deadline to earn the 2017 incentive is October 20, 2017. Use StayWell's secure wellness portal to earn your incentive and access tools and resources that support you in achieving your health goals.
For more information on incentive eligibility and program requirements, visit the StayWell website or call the StayWell HelpLine at 1-800-821-6591 during these customer service hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays; and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does Your Employer Have Your Current Address?
Currently, your employer provides the Department of Employee Trust Funds with your mailing address for correspondence. ETF needs your current address because we're building a new benefits administration system and we'll use the new system to mail your annual WRS Statement of Benefits to you, beginning next spring.
This is a change for local government employees, whose employers have traditionally used a variety of distribution methods. Going forward, ETF will mail statements to all employees — state and local — to their home addresses on file (as reported to ETF by employers).
You can do your part to ensure the security of your personal information by keeping your address updated with your employer.
Online Appointments Convenient and Easy Way to Connect with ETF
If you are nearing retirement and have your retirement estimate in hand:
- Do you have questions about your options or the retirement estimate itself?
- Are you unable to wait for the next available in-person appointment with an ETF benefits specialist?
Then try an online retirement appointment!
These appointments are secure, private retirement appointments with a Department of Employee Trust Funds benefits specialist.
Together, you and the specialist talk by telephone and review online your retirement estimate and annuity payment options, and discuss the retirement process in general. Online appointments are convenient and easy to schedule.
Find out whether an online retirement appointment is right for you: Contact ETF at 1-877-533-5020 or send an email inquiry.
Here is what WRS members have said about our online appointments:
"The specialist was very helpful and knowledgeable. I would have made different (worse!) choices for my annuity had I not had an opportunity to discuss my options. This is an EXTREMELY valuable service to WRS participants."
"Thanks for doing this type of appointment. It was very effective and informative. It was great not having to travel!"
"Very useful; I was happy I did not to have to travel...and it felt as if I was actually meeting with the specialist in-person; all my questions were answered. Thank you!"
"The specialist was very knowledgeable about the topic and answered all of our questions...was able to stimulate thought in areas we may not have [considered]. The Go-to-Meeting tool works great and enhances the ability to cover this material in great depth remotely."
ETF to Move to Hill Farms
You may have already heard that the Department of Employee Trust Funds, along with eight other state agencies, are slated to relocate to new state office building space in the Hill Farms property on Madison's West Side.
According to project managers, ETF is scheduled to move out of the Badger Road building in early spring and will occupy new office space on floors 7-9 of the Hill Farms State Office Building. We will share more details about the move date, the new location and services you can expect from ETF in the January edition of WRS News Online. In the meantime, visit our website or follow us on Twitter for updates.