The Department of Employee Trust Funds today announced a Core annuity adjustment of 1.7% for Wisconsin Retirement System retirees. The Variable annuity adjustment is 21%. These annuity increases are effective with the May 1 payment.

ETF Secretary Robert Conlin and ETF Board Chair Wayne Koessl approved the adjustments, following recommendations by the ETF Board’s consulting actuary .

Both the Core and the Variable adjustments were within ranges projected by ETF in January, based on 2019 preliminary investment returns of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

The Core annuity adjustment calculation accounts for investment gains and losses over the past five years (smoothing), required funding for annuities in place, and the effect of actuarial adjustments, such as retirees living longer. Smoothing protects against wide swings in retirees’ pensions from year to year. The required funding and actuarial adjustments ensure necessary support for current annuity payments.

Variable Fund investment gains and losses are not smoothed. As a result, the Variable annuity adjustment can vary widely from one year to the next, depending on investment performance.

The risk-sharing design features of the WRS keep the system nearly 100% funded and positioned to meet the State’s retirement commitments well into the future.

Average WRS Annuity Adjustments
(Annualized as of December 31, 2019)

 

5-Year

10-Year

20-Year

Core

1.3%

0.6%

1.3%

Variable

4.7%

6.1%

0.4%

Change in CPI*

1.8%

1.8%

2.1%

*Consumer Price Index

Additional WRS Facts:

  • There are approximately 217,000 WRS retirees and all participate in the Core Fund .
  • Approximately 42,000 WRS retirees also participate in the optional Variable Fund.
  • The WRS paid approximately $5.6 billion in retirement benefits in 2019.
  • 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.
  • The median annual WRS pension is $22,200 as of December 31, 2019.
  • Core annuities will be increased if there is an annuity reserve surplus of at least 0.5%; reduced if there is an annuity reserve shortfall of at least 0.5%.
  • The WRS is the 9th largest U.S. public pension fund and the 25th largest public or private pension fund in the world.

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