The WRS program is designed to provide retirement benefits that, when added to Social Security, will total 50%-85% your gross income. The WRS is administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). The WRS provides a benefit to you if you terminate employment, become totally disabled (as long as you meet the minimum service requirements) or die. Employees covered under the WRS are eligible to enroll for State Group Health, State Group Life, Income Continuation Insurance and other optional benefits.
All new regular full-time and part-time employees that are eligible under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) are eligible.
In addition, the following groups of temporary employees are also eligible:
No prior Wisconsin Retirement (WRS) service:
- Newly hired temporary employees appointed to work at least 1200 hours with an expected duration of employment of 12+ months
- Current temporary employees who work 1200+ hours in any rolling 12-month period
Prior WRS Service before July 1, 2011:
- Newly hired temporary employees appointed to work at least 600 hours with an expected duration of employment of 12+ months
- Current temporary employees who work 600+ hours in any rolling 12-month period
Enrollment is automatic and begins on the first day of employment in a benefit eligible position. Employees are automatically enrolled and are defaulted to the employee contribution.
What is the Contribution to WRS?
- Under the WRS there are both employee and employer required contributions
- Until 7/30/11 UWHC paid both the employee and employer contributions for all eligible employees
- The Budget Repair Bill (Act 10) requires that employees pay half of the required contributions to fund the plan
2018 Employee WRS Contribution
2018 UWHC WRS Contribution(1)
2018 Total WRS Contribution(2)
Regular and Temporary
(1) The contribution rates are established by ETF each year.
(2) The total WRS rates include the 2017 funding requirement, plus other mandatory employer contributions for the Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit program.
Beneficiary designations for the Wisconsin Retirement System may be made or updated by submitting a Beneficiary Designation form directly to ETF.
- The contributions are automatically invested in the Core Fund
- The employee has the option of choosing to invest 50% of future contributions in the Variable Fund. The remaining 50% of future contributions would remain in the Core Fund.
- Interest is paid annually on the retirement account
- Vesting means that you have worked the minimum number of years of covered WRS employment needed to qualify for a retirement benefit
- For employees that were WRS-eligible prior to 7/1/11, employer WRS contributions become 100% vested at the age of 55, regardless of the number of years worked
- For employees hired on or after 7/1/11, employer contributions become 100% vested after 5 years of creditable WRS service and the attainment of age of 55
While you remain employed under the WRS you may make additional contributions to your WRS account. To make additional contributions, please submit a Voluntary Additional WRS Retirement Contributions form to Human Resources. Additional contributions earn the annual effective rates of interest. The amount of additional contributions you can make each year is limited by Federal tax laws.
This document is a brief summary of benefits. Details of the plan(s) may be found in the official plan documents and plan descriptions. If a conflict exists between this document and the official plan document, the official plan document shall rule.
How do I change my Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) beneficiary designation?
To change your Wisconsin Retirement System beneficiary designee, fill out the beneficiary designation form, which is located on the WRS Web site at http://etf.wi.gov/publications/wrs.htm.
I am not currently enrolled in the WRS variable program, and would like to participate. Is it possible to get into the variable program?
Most participants are eligible to elect participation in the variable program*. If you have never participated in the variable program, or you previously participated in the variable program but canceled your variable participation before 1999, you can file an election to participate in the variable program.
A variable election applies only to new contributions made after the date your variable election becomes effective. No monies in your existing account balance are transferred to the variable fund. Once your variable election becomes effective, 50% of all new contributions to your account are deposited in the variable fund, including service purchase payments and any voluntary additional contributions made to your account.
A booklet entitled "How Participation in the Variable Trust Affects Your WRS Benefits" is available that provides detailed information about the effect of variable participation on your WRS benefits.
*You are not eligible to elect participation in the variable fund if you:
- Cancelled your variable participation after 1998, or
- Terminated all employment covered under the WRS before 2001, and have not subsequently returned to covered WRS employment.
In the past I worked in a position covered under the WRS, but I left my job and withdrew my funds. Is there any way I can get back the creditable service I forfeited when I withdrew my money from the retirement system?
Yes, if you are currently employed under the WRS and meet the eligibility criteria, you can buy back your creditable service. Please refer to the Buying Creditable Service (ET-4121) brochure for detailed information about the eligibility requirements and the cost of buying back your forfeited service.
What happens if I terminate my UWHC employment before I reach retirement age? Do I have to withdraw my retirement account?
No, you do not need to withdraw your account. If you terminate employment before age 55, you can either take a separation benefit, a lump sum refund of contributions plus interest, or wait until you reach age 55 or later and apply for a retirement benefit. This is based on both employer and employee contributions. If you terminate employment with 20+ years of service, you can escrow your sick leave. However, if you terminate employment with less than 20 years of service, you would lose your sick leave.
What is the earliest age at which I can retire?
Employees can retire and receive a retirement benefit at age 55. However, because that is considered early retirement, you will receive a slightly reduced benefit based on your years of service. Full retirement is at age 57 with at least 30 years of service. Age 65 is considered normal retirement age and you are eligible for full retirement regardless of your years of service.
When should I request retirement benefit estimates, and when do I apply?
You should request your retirement estimates approximately six to 12 months before you retire. The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) can accept your retirement application up to 90 days before the date you terminate employment.
Beneficiary Designation Form
Member Education Page
Online Retirement Estimate Request
Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF): WRS Benefit Summary
WRS Publications (Trust Fund News)
WRS Forms and Brochures
State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB)
How Participation in the Variable Trust Fund Affects Your WRS Benefits
Investing for your Retirement