Frequently Asked Questions:
Complete answers to many questions are available in the Pension Handbooks available here...
How can I access my account information?
Members can log in and view their accounts online via our website. To create a login ID you will need your RAIN ID, Social Security Number, date of birth, and a valid email address not in use with another WRS account. The online account provides members the ability to view account statements, change their address or other personal information, obtain an estimate of future benefits, request a refund, or submit a retirement request.
If I am leaving employment with my WRS Pension Plan employer before retirement, what are my options?
If you stop working for a participating employer and are vested, you may leave your account with WRS and later apply for a benefit when you reach the eligible age. Vested or non-vested members may also take a taxable withdrawal or “refund” of their account balance or a non-taxable rollover to a qualified retirement account. A refund does not include the employer share of contributions, which remain in the plan to reduce future employer costs. A refund decision should be made carefully, as it is irrevocable. In addition, it is usually hard to recover the lost retirement security caused by premature withdrawal of retirement assets. View the "Decisions When Leaving A WRS-Participating Employer" Brochure (pdf)...
If I’m vested and take a refund, do I receive the employer matching contributions?
If you are eligible for and elect a refund, you will receive only the employee contributions in your account (including any employer "pick-up" of employee contributions), plus accrued interest. The amount refunded to you does not include any employer contributions.
What happens to my retirement account if I die and haven’t designated a beneficiary?
We strongly encourage you to designate a beneficiary to ensure your retirement is paid out according to your wishes. However, if you do not designate a beneficiary and you pass away pre-retirement, a lump sum payment will be made to your estate if you are a member of the regular Public Employee, Guard Firefighter, or Judicial Plans.
If you are a member of one of our public safety plans - Law Enforcement; Warden, Patrol, DCI; Paid Fire; Volunteer Fire & EMT, and you are married, your death benefits will be paid to your spouse. If you are not married, other provisions will apply, depending on the plan.
The option you select when you retire will determine any post-retirement death benefits.
What should I do if I am approaching retirement?
If you are vested, an estimate of your retirement benefit is available by logging into your online pension account. You should also make sure you are financially prepared for the time it will take between receiving your last paycheck from your employer and receiving your first retirement check, which can be up to 60 days after WRS receives the final payroll contribution from your employer.
How do I start my benefit?
Log in to your online pension account to apply for benefits on or shortly before your last working day. You may also download a paper application for retirement and submit it to WRS.
After you have terminated employment with all participating employers, your date of retirement, thus retirement benefits, may become effective any day after your last working day.
If I take an early retirement, with a reduced benefit, will I receive my full benefit once I reach full retirement age?
No. Once you take a reduced benefit, it is permanently reduced and is only increased if a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) is granted.
If I retire and later return to work for a covered agency of WRS, how will my retirement benefit be affected?
If you retire and then return to work for an employer of WRS, under the same plan, you will be considered a rehired retiree and a WRS-9 Rehired Retiree form must be completed. You must make an election to continue to receive your benefit and not contribute to WRS OR stop your benefit and begin making contributions again. If you choose to contribute again, when you retire a second time, you must retire under the same option as your original retirement, with the same beneficiary. Please contact WRS before you make this election.
Is there anything else I need to look into before I retire?
We suggest that you contact your Health Insurance Administrator and a representative from your 457 Deferred Compensation account or 403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity Plan regarding the options available to you through those plans.
I am retiring; when will I get my first check?
If your retirement application is complete and received by WRS, you may expect your first payment from WRS the month following the month we receive final contributions and a termination notice from your employer. Your first payment will be retroactive back to your retirement date.
If you talk with your employer, find out when they will be submitting the final contributions and termination notice pertaining to you. If you work for a school district, find out if they are paying all summer contributions in advance or paying throughout the summer. Once you know when WRS will get notice of termination and your final contribution, you can estimate that your first check will likely be on the retiree payroll date for the month after WRS received your information.
Why is no COLA awarded when WRS' investments are performing well?
The WRS Board and Executive Director are aware that rising prices and inflation are a major difficulty for long-time retirees on a fixed income.
In 2012, the State Legislature passed a law returning the authority to grant pension cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to the Legislature and also requiring 100% funding of the plan before a COLA could be awarded from WRS funds. The Public Employee Pension Plan is moving in the direction of 100% funding through strong investment earnings and contribution increases. However, it will be many years before the plan meets the requirements to grant a COLA from WRS funds.
The WRS Board has advocated for legislatively funded COLAs and has provided the Legislature with a tool for estimating the cost of COLAs. WRS is not aware of any pending legislation to address this issue.
Is my pension income taxable?
Yes, your monthly benefit is reported to the IRS as income, and you are responsible for paying any taxes. You will receive a Form 1099-R annually for tax reporting purposes. If you made contributions to your pension after-tax, such as with a service purchase, the non-taxable portion of your pension paid throughout the year will be reported on your 1099-R form. You will complete a Federal Income Tax Withholding form when you apply for retirement to indicate how much federal income tax you want withheld. Further information on the information contained on form 1099-R is available here...