There are three WRS programs and an independent program that may provide benefits to your survivors.

  • WRS Retirement Benefit (includes disability retirement)
  • Life Insurance
  • Continuation of Health Insurance
  • Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) – Independent Retirement Plan

Who are benefits paid to?

Retirement and Life Insurance death benefits are always paid based on your most recent Beneficiary Designation (ET-2320) form on file with ETF.  If you do not have a form on file, benefits will be paid according to a Wisconsin state law called “Statutory Standard Sequence.”

The type and amount of WRS benefits payable to your beneficiaries depends on several factors including the type of benefit and whether you die before or after you begin a retirement benefit.

Retirement Benefit

The tables below shows what is included in a WRS death benefit based on your status and age at death.

If Death Occurs Before Retirement

Age at Death

Active Employee

Inactive Employee

If death occurs before age 55 (50 if the member had protective category service)

Total Account Value Payable:

  • Employee-Required Contributions
  • Employer-Required Contributions
  • Employee Additional Contributions (if paid by member)
  • Accumulated Interest

Partial Account Value Payable:

  • Employee-Required Contributions
  • Employee Additional Contributions (if paid by member)
  • Accumulated Interest
If death occurs on or after age 55 (50 if member had protective category service)

Total Account Value Payable (based on the higher of two calculations):

  • Money Purchase or
  • Special Death Benefit
Same as above.

If Death Occurs After Retirement

Benefit is based on the annuity option the member chose at the time of retirement.  This could include one of the following:

  • Any remaining payments in a specific guarantee period (paid to a beneficiary) or
  • A lifetime benefit paid to one Named Survivor or
  • No benefit payable.

See the Payment Options page and Death Benefits (ET-6101) brochure for more detailed information about WRS Death Benefits.

Life Insurance

If your employer offers the Group Life Insurance, and your coverage is in effect at the time of death, benefits are payable to your beneficiary(-ies).  The amount is based on how much coverage you selected, and when you die. 

Health Insurance

If you die as an active or retired employee with family coverage, your surviving insured spouse and/or dependents have the right to continue coverage for their lifetime. 

Wisconsin Deferred Compensation

If you are enrolled in the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) program, there are additional death benefits payable. These benefits are paid according to the beneficiary designation you have on file with the WDC.

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