The Department of Employee Trust Funds announced annual annuity adjustments today for retirees of the Wisconsin Retirement System. The Core annuity adjustment is 1.6% (an increase) and the Variable annuity adjustment is -21% (a decrease). ETF Secretary John Voelker and ETF Board Chair William Ford approved the adjustments as a result of calculations performed by the WRS consulting actuaries.

The adjustments will first be reflected on retirees’ May 1 payments.

The WRS does not guarantee retirees an annual cost-of-living adjustment, a common practice among pension plans. Instead, WRS annuity adjustments are based on investment performance of the WRS trust funds. This risk sharing component of the WRS contributes to it being one of the only public employee pension systems in the country to be consistently 100% funded. WRS employers and employees share in this risk as well; their contributions into the system fluctuate annually, based on investment performance.

Funds to pay pension benefits come from employee contributions, employer contributions and investment earnings. Investment income accounts for approximately 84% of the WRS revenues over the past ten years.

In January the State of Wisconsin Investment Board announced calendar year 2022 investment performance. The Core Fund returned -12.92% and Variable Fund returned -17.83%.

Average WRS Annuity Adjustments
(Annualized as of December 31, 2022)













Change in CPI*




*Consumer Price Index

WRS Facts

  • As of December 31, 2022, there are 233,804 WRS retirees who participate in the Core Fund. Approximately 43,000 of those individuals also participate in the optional Variable fund.
  • The WRS paid more than $6.9 billion in retirement benefits in 2022.
  • The financial impact of the WRS on Wisconsin is widespread, as more than 85% of WRS retirees live, pay taxes, and buy goods and services in Wisconsin.
  • As of December 31, 2022, the median annual Core benefit is approximately $23,000; the median annual Variable benefit is approximately $8,100; and the median combined benefit is $25,500.
  • By law, Core annuities will be increased if the annuity reserve surplus provides at least a 0.5% increase. Annuities will be reduced if a shortfall in this reserve would require at least a -0.5% adjustment.
  • Variable Fund investment gains and losses are not smoothed. Therefore, the Variable annuity adjustment each year closely reflects the prior year’s investment performance. For the Variable Fund, annuities will be reduced if a shortfall in this reserve would require at least a -2.0% adjustment.
  • The WRS is the 8th largest U.S. public pension fund.