You may choose any person as your named survivor. However, if you choose someone who is not your spouse, the Internal Revenue Service has restrictions on the age difference between you and that person. 

  • If you choose a named survivor for your monthly Wisconsin Retirement System benefit who is not your spouse, and who is younger than you are, you cannot choose any of the named survivor annuity options, unless the named survivor meets the IRS age limits. 
  • There is no age limit if you choose your spouse, or if your non-spouse named survivor is older than you are.

Choosing a Named Survivor

If you want to choose a named survivor who is not your spouse, ETF looks at the number of years between you and your named survivor. To do this, we look at the age each of you will turn in the year your monthly WRS benefit is effective, and then subtract your named survivor’s age from yours. We don’t count the actual years, months, and days between your two birthdates. 

  • The age difference must be no more than 19 years younger for the 75 percent Continued to a Named Survivor or the Reduced 25% on Death of Annuitant options.
  • The age difference must be no more than 10 years younger for the 100 percent Continued to a Named Survivor or the 100% continued to Named Survivor with 180 Payments Guaranteed options. 
  • Again, there is no age limit if you choose a non-spouse named survivor who is older than you are.

Example 1:  You want to name a younger non-spouse named survivor.  

First, we calculate how much older you are than your named survivor. The calculation is based on the age you and your survivor turn on your birthdays in the year the monthly benefit is effective. This will always be a round number, like 5 or 12.

  • In the year their benefit is effective, the ETF member, on their birthday, will turn 60 years old. The non-spouse named survivor, on their birthday, will turn 52.
  • 60-52=8.
  • Because the age difference is 8 years, this member can choose any of the WRS Joint and Named Survivor annuity options with this named survivor.  

Example 2: You want to name your child as a non-spouse named survivor.

  • In the year their benefit is effective, the ETF member, on their birthday, will turn 60 years old. The named survivor, on their birthday, will turn 30.
  • 60-30=30.
  • Because the age difference is 30 years, this member cannot choose any of the WRS Joint and Named Survivor annuity options with this named survivor. 
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