The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds administers retirement, insurance and other benefit programs for approximately 630,000 current and former public employees, retirees and their beneficiaries of the Wisconsin Retirement System. Our mission is “to develop and deliver quality benefits and services to our customers while safeguarding the integrity of the Trust."
WRS benefit programs include retirement, health, life, income continuation, long-term disability, along with an employee reimbursement accounts program, commuter benefits program, and a deferred compensation plan. ETF also administers retirement disability coverage and serves as the state’s designated coverage agent for Social Security for Wisconsin public employers.
ETF collects but does not invest WRS trust fund monies. Instead, WRS assets are managed by a separate state agency, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. ETF is responsible for:
- Collecting all monies due the trust funds.
- Calculating and ensuring appropriate disbursement of all benefit payments from the trust funds.
- Providing information to, and answering inquiries from, participating employees and employers.
- Establishing the controls, systems, and procedures necessary to ensure the appropriate administration and security of the trust.
Wisconsin Retirement System
The WRS covers state and local government employees, including the University of Wisconsin System, local police and firefighters, and all publicly-employed teachers in the state. Those not included are employees of the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, who are covered under separate retirement systems. Participation by eligible employees is mandatory for retirement and Social Security but optional for the other benefit programs.
While the WRS has existed since 1982, pension coverage for local government employees has been in place since 1891, when the legislature required Milwaukee to create a pension fund for retired and disabled police and firefighters.
The WRS is classified as a defined benefit plan by the Internal Revenue Service. In terms of assets under management, the WRS is the 8th largest public pension fund in the United States and 25th largest public or private pension fund in the world. The WRS is often recognized as being one of the only fully-funded state pension systems in the country, primarily due to its unique gain/loss-sharing benefit structure, funding discipline and investment management.
ETF is a non-cabinet Wisconsin agency with five different statutory boards that oversee the administration and management of the WRS. The ETF Board is both the overall governing body for the agency and the general policy-setting and trustee board for the entire WRS.
The Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems provides oversight of the WRS for the legislature and is responsible for the review of all proposed retirement legislation.