For family members dealing with the loss of a loved one, the days and weeks following the death can be a busy and stressful time. As soon as you are able, please contact the Department of Employee Trust Funds to notify us of the death. Here is information we will need:

  • Deceased's:
    • Full name, address and birth date
    • Date of death
    • ETF Member ID or Social Security number
  • Caller’s relationship to the deceased
  • Primary contact for more information, include:
    • their name, address and telephone number
    • relationship to the deceased
Please note:  ETF will recover any electronic payments issued to the deceased after the date of death. Please do not close the deceased member's bank account until the funds have been recovered.

Death Benefits Process

ETF will determine if any death benefits are payable and who the beneficiaries are. How long it takes for a beneficiary to receive a payment depends on the type of benefit, how quickly beneficiary(-ies) are located, how many beneficiaries there are, and how long it takes them to submit their benefit application. 

Due to confidentiality laws, no benefit information is given to anyone except the beneficiary(-ies) or the personal representative of the member’s estate. 

Steps for Processing Each Type of Benefit

There are several steps for each benefit type when processing death benefits.

Retirement Benefit

The death benefit amount a beneficiary receives depends on whether the member was employed at the time of death, their WRS account balance and the number of beneficiaries to be paid. If the member was already retired and receiving a monthly payment, the death benefit will be based on the annuity option the deceased chose at retirement.

  1. After the death of a WRS account holder (active or inactive employee who has not taken their retirement benefit), ETF will:
    1. Determine who should receive the death benefit payable and locate the beneficiary(-ies).
    2. Request a certified copy of the death certificate that lists cause of death.
    3. Send the death benefit estimate and application to the eligible beneficiary(-ies).

See the Death Benefits section for more information about benefits.

  1. After the death of a WRS member who was retired and receiving a monthly payment (including disability retirement), ETF will:
    1. Recover any electronic payments issued after the date of the death from the account of the deceased. By law, any payments issued to the deceased after the date of death must be recovered.
    2. Determine whether any additional benefits are payable, who should receive them and locate those beneficiary(-ies).
    3. Request a certified copy of the death certificate that lists cause of death.
    4. Automatically begin payments to a named survivor if the member chose a joint and survivor payment option or
    5. Send a Death Benefit Estimate and Application to all eligible beneficiary(-ies).

See the Choosing an Annuity Option (ET-4117) brochure for more information.

Long-term Disability Insurance (LTDI) Benefits

  • The claim will be closed and any final benefits will be processed.
  • There are no death benefits payable from an LTDI claim.

Duty Disability Benefits

  • The claim will be closed and any final benefits will be processed.
  • ETF will send notification if any duty disability survivor benefits are payable.

Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) Benefits

  • ETF will notify the third-party administrator to close the claim and pay any final benefits through the date of death.
  • There are no death benefits payable from an ICI claim.

Life Insurance Benefit

  1. ETF reviews the deceased’s records to determine whether there was group life insurance coverage through ETF.
  2. If there was coverage in effect, ETF will notify Securian (life insurance plan administrator) of the death.
  3. Securian will determine who the beneficiary(-ies) are, contact them directly and issue payment. See the Life Insurance Benefit Payout page or Wisconsin Public Employers Group Life Insurance Program (ET-2101) brochure for more information.

Health Insurance Benefit

  1. ETF will determine if health insurance was in effect at the time of death. If the member had family coverage, the spouse and/or dependents can continue coverage.
    • Coverage continues automatically.
    • Requests to cancel coverage must be submitted in writing.
  2. If the deceased was a state employee, ETF will determine whether there are any sick leave credits remaining for eligible beneficiary(-ies) to pay their health insurance premiums.  

See the Group Health Insurance (ET-4112) brochure for more information.

Who else should I notify about the death?

You may need to contact:

  • The deceased’s employer if they were still working.
  • The Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) program, if the deceased had a deferred compensation account.  Call the WDC toll-free at 1-877-457-9327.
  • The Social Security Administration (funeral homes usually do this for you).
  • The company(-ies) for any other health, life or disability coverage the deceased may have had.
  • Any other investment plans, financial institutions, etc., in which the deceased had assets.
  • If the deceased was a member of a union, you may wish to tell them.
  • If you are the personal representative or executor of the estate, the probate court in the county in which the person died.