Deciding when to retire is a personal choice based on many factors, including your personal finances and risk tolerance. It’s important to consider how your age at retirement may affect the amount of your benefit. The following information will help you understand when you are eligible to retire, the difference between Minimum Retirement Age and Normal Retirement Age , and when you must take a Required Minimum Distribution .

To be eligible for a WRS retirement benefit :
  1. You must be vested and be at least age 55 (or age 50 if you have protective category service).
  2. You must terminate all WRS-covered employment.
  3. You must not be on a leave of absence or in layoff status.
  4. You must turn in a complete and valid retirement application to ETF.
  5. ETF must receive your completed application before your death. Applications received after death are invalid.

If you decide to end WRS employment due to a disability , contact ETF about your eligibility for disability benefits before applying for a retirement benefit. Taking a retirement benefit may affect your eligibility for disability benefits. See the Disability Benefits page for more information.

Minimum Retirement Age

Your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) is the earliest age that you can begin receiving a retirement benefit (assuming you meet all other eligibility requirements). Benefits that begin early, before your normal retirement age , are permanently reduced because the benefit is expected to be paid longer.  See the Calculating Your Retirement Benefits (ET-4107) brochure for more information.

Normal Retirement Age

Your Normal Retirement Age is the age that you can begin receiving a retirement benefit that is not reduced by an age reduction factor .  The normal retirement age varies by employment category :

Employment Category

Minimum Retirement Age

Normal Retirement Age

General employees and teachers 55 65
Employees first enrolled in an elected official or state executive retirement plan category before January 1, 2017 55 62
Employees first enrolled in an elected official or state executive retirement plan category on or after January 1, 2017 55 65
Protective occupation employees with at least 25 years of creditable service 50 53
Protective occupation employees with less than 25 years of creditable service 50 54

Required Minimum Distribution

Once you have terminated WRS employment, federal law requires you to begin receiving your WRS payments by a certain date, depending on your age. This is called a required minimum distribution (RMD). The SECURE Act of 2019 changed the age at which RMDs must begin. If you were born July 1, 1949 or later your first RMD will be in the year you turn age 72. If you were born before July 1, 1949  the age remains 70 1/2. 

If you have terminated WRS employment and do not apply for your WRS payments by the required date: 

  • You may be required to pay a federal tax of 50% of the amount that you should have received from the WRS in that tax year. 
  • ETF must make an automatic distribution to you by starting your WRS payment(s). This could result in a tax consequence, effective date, or type of payment that you do not want. 

You are Covered by the New RMD Law if You Were Born July 1, 1949 or Later  

If you are still working under the WRS but plan to stop working during the year you turn age 71 or before, you must apply by the end of the calendar year

  • If you stop working, and apply for WRS benefits, you may defer your benefit effective date until no later than March 1 of the calendar year you reach age 73. 
  • If you stop working, but do not apply for WRS benefits, ETF must begin your WRS payments the calendar year you turn age 72. 
  • If you will continue working under the WRS after you reach age 72 or older, your WRS benefit must become effective on or before March 1 of the year after you retire. To do this, you must apply for WRS payments by December 31 of the year you retire. 

You are Covered by the Old RMD Law if You Were Born Before July 1, 1949  

If your date of birth is before July 1, 1949, and you are still actively working under the WRS: 

  • When you stop working, your WRS benefit must become effective on or before March 1 of the following year. To do this, you must apply for WRS payments by December 31 of the year you retire. 
  • If you stop working, but do not apply for WRS benefits, ETF must begin your WRS payments the next calendar year.