If an employee experiences an employment change, typically their benefits will be affected. When notified of a life event, counsel the employee on all of their benefit options.

Retirement can be a difficult decision for employees. In this section institution benefits administrators will find tools to assist with counseling and helping employees through the retirement process.

Employees are eligible to retire and start to receive a WRS benefit when they:

  • Are at least 55 years old (at least 50 if covered by the Protective WRS category); and
  • Are vested* in the WRS; and
  • End all WRS-covered employment.

Normal retirement age is when an employee is eligible for a full retirement benefit that is not subject to an age reduction factor. Normal retirement age is 65 (53 or 54 for Protective WRS category).

*Employees who are first covered by the WRS on or after July 1, 2011 must have five years of WRS creditable service to be vested in the WRS. Employees who were covered by the WRS prior to July 1, 2011 are immediately vested in the WRS. Once vested, an employee is eligible to receive a retirement benefit. A full year of creditable service is determined as follows:

  • For faculty, academic staff, or limited appointees 1,320 hours from 7/1 – 6/30.
  • For university staff employees, 1,904 hours from 1/1 – 12/31.
  • Note: An individual can only earn 1.0 year of creditable service in a 12-month period, no matter how many hours an employee is in paid status. Employees may earn a partial year of creditable service. A partial year is a percentage of the year equivalent to the hours spent in paid status (i.e. actual hours worked, vacation, sick leave or other paid leave status) divided by the number of hours required for a creditable year of service.

Employees are eligible for a WRS retirement annuity or lump sum retirement benefit once they have five years of creditable service.


Access calculators on ETF’s website. The calculators on ETF’s website provide unofficial estimates based on the information the benefits administrator or employee enters. Calculators do not access the employee’s personal account information and the results shown are not guaranteed.

Encourage employees to request a retirement estimate from the Wisconsin Retirement System Retirement Estimate Request tool. This tool is for retirement estimates only, it is not an application for benefits. Employees may also contact ETF at (877) 533-5020 to request a retirement estimate, schedule an appointment, or for general retirement information. 


Upon retirement (regular or disability), layoff or death, eligible employees can use their unused sick leave credits to pay post-termination State Group Health Insurance premiums for themselves and their spouse and/or dependents.

ETF requires that employers submit sick leave certifications to ETF within 30 days of an employee's termination or retirement. This deadline provides time for benefits administrators to finalize the employee's remaining sick leave hours.

Regardless of whether the employee indicates they are taking their WRS retirement benefit submit the employees Sick Leave Conversion Credits through ETF's On-line Network for Employers (ONE) system. Enter “retirement” as the termination reason. 

ETF requires online submission of Sick Leave Conversion Credits through the online Accumulated Sick Leave System on the ETF’s On-line Network for Employers (ONE) system. To request access to ETF’s On-line Network for Employers (ONE) system, review ETF Online Tools - Requesting Access pdf

Resources to assist with Sick Leave Credit Conversion Program counseling:

Sick Leave paper certification forms (used prior to 1/1/2014) can be used to check the information entered into ETF One. The forms will not be accepted by ETF and are only available to check the information entered into ETF One.



An estimate of State Group Life Insurance premium in retirement can be completed for the employee using the State Group Life Insurance Estimator xlsx .

Employees may be able to convert their basic group life insurance coverage to pay premiums for health insurance or long-term care insurance. Review the Converting Your Life Insurance to Pay Health or Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums web page for more information.


The EAP provides employees and members of their household with confidential resources to address personal concerns and/or legal/financial situations. Services are provided at no cost to the employee and/or the members of their household for 12 months following separation. Go to the EAP web page for additional information.


Updated: 11/23/2022