Due to a third straight year of double digit returns by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Retirement System retirees will receive pension payment increases this year. The Core annuity adjustment is 7.4% and the Variable annuity adjustment is 15.0%. The increases will first be reflected on the May 1 annuity payment.

Department of Employee Trust Funds Secretary John Voelker and ETF Board Chair Wayne Koessl approved the adjustments, following recommendations by the ETF Board’s consulting actuary.

“The 7.4% Core annuity increase is the highest provided in more than two decades and marks the third consecutive year for an annuity increase,” said ETF Secretary John Voelker. “This is great news for WRS retirees, especially during this period of rising inflation that is eroding retirees’ spending power. We are fortunate that consistently strong investment performance over the past few years can support this level of increase.”

By design, the WRS does not guarantee an automatic cost-of-living adjustment, a common practice among pension systems to help retirees’ incomes keep up with inflation. Instead, WRS annual adjustments are increased or decreased based on annual investment performance of the WRS trust funds. For five straight years after 2008, Core annuities were decreased due to the Great Recession. Sharing risk among employees, employers, and retirees is a key feature of the WRS to keep it fully funded and positioned to meet benefit promises well into the future.

The calculation of the Core annuity adjustment involves recognizing (“smoothing”) investment gains and losses in the fund over a five-year period. Smoothing helps mitigate the effects of market volatility on WRS retirees' incomes from one year to the next. Unlike the Core Fund, investment performance for the Variable Fund is not smoothed, which means the full impact of gains or losses are applied.

In January, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board announced investment performance for calendar year 2021. The Core Fund returned 16.89% and the Variable Fund 19.95.%

Average WRS Annuity Adjustments
(Annualized as of December 31, 2021)













Change in CPI*




*Consumer Price Index

WRS Facts

  • As of December 31, 2021, there are 228,161 WRS retirees, all of whom participate in the Core Fund.
  • Approximately 42,251 WRS retirees also participate in the optional Variable Fund.
  • The WRS paid over $6.3 billion in retirement benefits in 2021.
  • 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, 2021, the median annual Core benefit is approximately $21,500; the median annual Variable benefit is approximately $7,000; and the median combined benefit is $23,800.
  • By law, Core annuities will be increased if the annuity reserve surplus provides at least a 0.5% increase. Annuities will be reduced if the annuity reserve shortfall would require at least a -0.5% adjustment.
  • The WRS is the 8th largest U.S. public pension fund.