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News

Press Release

For Immediate Release
June 13, 2001

Contact: Pam Henning, (608) 267-2929


Department of Employee Trust Funds is Poised and Ready to Pay Wisconsin Retirement System Monies

MADISON -- Eric Stanchfield, Secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF), is pleased that the 18-month wait is over for Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) annuitants who have waited so patiently for the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on the 1999 Wisconsin Act 11 pension legislation. "We are ready to move forward at the Department and get the money in the hands of our retirees," said Secretary Stanchfield. Approximately 100,000 benefit recipients will see an increase in the fixed portion of their monthly benefits because of the okay to go ahead and distribute gains from the Wisconsin Retirement System.

The Department plans to pay the retroactive dividend adjustment, due from the $4 billion of system gains, starting on July 1. The monies normally would have been distributed on May 1, 2000, so eligible retirees, who retired before 2000, will receive retroactive payment of those dividends and see their base annuities go up about 9.6%. Based on the total retiree population, the average pension increase will be $105 per month and will add $138 million per year to the system’s payroll.

On August 1, the same people will receive a .6% adjustment on their annuities from May 1, 2001 forward. This payment will average about $12 per month for the retirees.

Stanchfield recognizes everyone’s desire to receive their monies now, but acknowledges that for some the payments may take longer. "While the time delay allowed us to automate as much as possible, there are still some who will have to wait as we catch-up and do the calculations necessary to pay correct amounts," says Stanchfield. Although most retirees will see these increases immediately, there will be some delays due to the complexities and backlog built up in during the 18-month period beginning in January 2000. About 5,000 retirees will need manual calculations completed due to changes that occurred on their annuities since January 2000. This could take several months to complete. About 3,000 people who received lump sum benefits since January 2000 are eligible for a supplemental payment and about 9,500 who retired after 1999 still need to have final calculations done on their annuities.

The 252,000 actively employed members of the Wisconsin Retirement System will also receive improved retirement benefits from Act 11. Benefit changes include an improved formula multiplier for service before 2000, additional interest crediting on accounts, improved death benefits, and the ability to join the variable program.

In addition to the benefit improvements for members, the Court’s decision has long-term implications for the future of the WRS. Stanchfield says, " The impact of Act 11 on the retirement system, particularly the funding of benefits, needs to be carefully evaluated. We look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor to ensure the financial integrity and stability of the WRS."

To learn more about the Act 11 changes, visit the Employee Trust Fund’s Internet site at http://badger.state.wi.us/agencies/etf or call, toll free 1-877-533-5020 or 266-3285 (local Madison), 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

 

 

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