News

Thirty-day Benefit Enrollment Opportunity for Same-Sex Spouses

As of October 6, 2014, same-sex marriage is legal and recognized in Wisconsin.  This includes a legal same-sex marriage that occurred in another state or country prior to October 6, 2014, as well as same-sex marriage licenses issued June 6 - 13, 2014 in Wisconsin.

Employees who have a same-sex spouse as of October 15, 2014, have a 30-day window ending on November 14, 2014, to enroll their same-sex spouse and that spouse’s dependents in the following benefit plans:

  • State Group Health Insurance
  • Dental Wisconsin Dental Insurance
  • EPIC Benefits+
  • VSP Vision Insurance
  • Individual and Family Life Insurance
  • State Group Life Insurance
    • Add Spouse/Dependent coverage if you have a dependent to insure for the first time
    • Enroll in or add one level of coverage (note – changing the relationship with the same person from domestic partnership to marriage does not allow you to make changes to State Group Life Insurance coverage)

For more information, see Family Changes - Marriage for a complete list of changes which can be made upon marriage. Note: if you marry a same-sex spouse after October 15, 2014, you have 30 days from your date of marriage to make any benefit changes.

All applications to add a same-sex spouse and the spouse’s dependents must be submitted to your institution’s benefits office by 4:30pm on November 14, 2014.  Health insurance will be effective October 6th (the date that Wisconsin recognized same-sex marriage) and all other benefits will be effective the 1st of the month on or following receipt of the application.

All benefit applications can be accessed on the Forms & Publications page. You must submit a paper application to add your spouse and spouse’s dependents to your coverage.

Employees with a same-sex spouse may also want to consider updating their tax withholding.

For additional information, see the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Wisconsin FAQ on the Department of Employee Trust Funds website

For Employees Who Currently Cover Same-Sex Spouse as a Domestic Partner on Benefit Plans

If you already cover your same-sex spouse as a domestic partner on your benefit plans, you must submit new paper applications to change the relationship from domestic partner to spouse.  You will receive an email from your benefits office with specific instructions. Refer to the Family Changes - Domestic Partnership to Marriage page for more information.

The Annual Benefit Enrollment (ABE) period is coming October 6-31, 2014

Don't miss your once-a-year opportunity to enroll or make changes to your benefits.

The Annual Benefit Enrollment (ABE) period begins October 6 and ends on October 31 for all participating plans. If you do nothing, your current insurance coverage will continue in 2015, except that you must re-enroll in Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA ) Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program every year. All changes made during ABE period take effect on January 1, 2015.

Please visit the Annual Benefits Enrollment website to find specific information about the available plans and how to enroll or make changes.

The big news for 2015 is that a new type of health insurance plan will be available to most employees who participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). The new plans are High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA).

Each health plan will also offer an HDHP/HSA option in addition to the current plans. If you choose to enroll in an HDHP, you will pay a lower monthly premium but will need to satisfy a deductible before benefits are payable. The deductible for single coverage will be $1,500 per year and $3,000 per year for family coverage.

The HSA is a tax-advantaged savings account that you will establish to help you pay for expenses that fall under the deductible and may also provide a an important tool for saving for future medical expenses. The HSA belongs to you, even if you leave employment with the UW. You must enroll in the HDHP to have an HSA and vice versa. The UW will make an annual contribution to t your HSA, which is pro-rated for HSAs opened after January 1.

In addition, during this year's ABE period, you may enroll in or make changes to the following plans:

  • State Group Health Insurance – regular coverage or HDHP
  • EPIC Benefits+
  • Dental Wisconsin PPO or Select Plans
  • VSP vision insurance
  • Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA) - Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program requires that you re-enroll every year during the ABE period. There will also be a Limited Purpose FSA for dental and vision services for employees enrolling in the HDHP.

Employees who are enrolled in the Individual and Family Group Life Insurance may increase their existing employee, spouse/domestic partner and/or child coverage through the Annual Increase Option.

UW Employee's Inc. Coverage Increases

Effective on October 1, 2014 all coverage levels of the UW Employees, Inc. Life Insurance program are increasing by $3,000 with no additional cost to participants.

New Coverage Levels
Age (as of Jan 1)New Benefits AmountMonthly Cost
Under 35 $33,000 $1.00
35 - 39 $28,000 $1.25
40 - 44 $25,000 $1.60
45 - 49 $18,000 $2.00
50 - 54 $15,000 $2.40
55 - 59 $13,000 $3.80
60 - 64 $12,000 $4.35
65 and over $7,000 $3.00

The UW Employees, Inc. Life Insurance program provides affordable decreasing term life insurance coverage based on age. In addition to benefits payable at the time of death, the plan offers an Accelerated Death benefit if an employee is diagnosed as terminally ill with a life expectancy of 12 months or less, and an opportunity to convert coverage at the end of employment.

If you did not enroll in the plan when initially eligible, you may apply for coverage through Evidence of Insurability (acceptance not guaranteed).

See the Plan Brochure or Plan Certificate for more information and always remember to keep your Beneficiary Designation up-to-date.

It’s Easy to Invest in the TSA Program

$8 biweekly or $20 per month - that is all it takes to start your UW TSA 403(b) account and save for retirement! Saving early is the easiest way to accumulate money because time is on your side. Once you set aside some money, you may find – as many others have reported – that you don’t even miss it. And remember – there are no administrative fees, low-cost investments, and free counseling in person or on the phone if you need help.

Keep your long-term goals in mind and decide what’s truly important to you. Perhaps you can cut down on movies and dining out, tighten your clothing budget, or find less expensive ways to entertain at home.

Find out more and how to enroll in the UW TSA 403(b) Program.

2015 WRS Contribution Rates Announced

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) announced the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contribution rates for 2015. Your contribution rate is determined by your WRS employment category. Most UW employees are covered by either the general or teacher WRS category. High level administrators (chancellors, president, vice presidents, provosts…) are covered by the executive category, and those whose main duties are related to law enforcement or the protection of the public (police officers, fire fighters…) are covered by the protective category.

2014 and 2015 WRS Contribution Rates
  General/TeacherExecutivesProtectives w/ Social Security
  201420152014201520142015
Employee Contribution 7.00% 6.80% 7.75% 7.70% 7.00% 6.80%
Employer Contribution 7.00% 6.80% 7.75% 7.70% 10.10% 9.50%
Total 14.00% 13.60% 15.50% 15.40% 17.10% 13.20%

WRS contribution rates are set on an annual basis. The 2015 contribution rates will apply to all paychecks paid in 2015 beginning on January 2, 2015 for unclassified employees paid monthly and January 8, 2015 for classified employees paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage in Wisconsin

UPDATED June 18, 2014: On June 13 2014, the federal district court issued a stay of its June 6, 2014 ruling, when U.S. District Judge, Barbara Crabb, ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage in Wisconsin is unconstitutional. That stay will remain in effect pending further appeals. If you’re currently covering your same-sex spouse for State Group Health insurance and are subject to imputed income, there will be no changes made until guidance is provided by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF).

We ask for your patience as we await guidance from ETF. Until that guidance is received,, if you are recently married and/or want to enroll your same-sex spouse for State Group Health insurance, you must still create a domestic partnership. See Domestic Partnership for details.

See ETF’s statement on the Impact of Recent Federal Court Ruling on WRS for more information.

Save for Your Future with the TSA 403(b) Program

Think of the things you plan for - vacation, a new vehicle, your home. Have you planned for your future retirement? Take advantage of an opportunity to supplement your retirement savings by participating in the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program. It is easy with an automatic payroll deduction - and it feels good to save!

Benefits

There are many benefits of participating in the UW TSA Program, including:

  1. It's an easy way to accumulate additional savings you will need to supplement your retirement income.
  2. You can make either pre-tax or Roth after-tax contributions or a combination of both options.
  3. It is a flexible, low-cost program with a wide array of investment options.
  4. It's portable. You may rollover your contributions to another qualified plan if you leave UW employment.

Enrollment

If eligible, you may enroll in this voluntary program at any time. All permanent, project and limited term employees (LTEs) of the University of Wisconsin as well as rehired annuitants, student hourly employees, and graduate assistants - with the exception of some employees-in-training, fellows, and interns - are eligible to participate. You make the entire contribution; there is no employer match. Investment options include a wide array of mutual funds and fixed and variable annuities managed by six authorized investment companies. For a description of our investment companies and how to enroll, see the Quick Guide to the UW TSA Program.

To find out more about the program, take a look at the TSA Q&A, which provides answers to some frequently asked questions.

T. Rowe Price Offers Recorded Webinar

T. Rowe Price, one of the investment companies in your UW TSA 403(b) Program, offers the recorded webinar Retirement Investing From Beginning to End.

Retirement Investing From Beginning to End – This 20-minute program is a comprehensive presentation that explains asset classes, reviews the concepts of risk and return, and helps you make the most of your investment choices. The plan’s investment options will be discussed and profiled using market capitalization, investment style, and geographic characteristics.

To view this recorded webinar, just click here.

New UW System Personnel System Approved - Effective July 1, 2015

On April 23, 2014, the state Legislature's Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) approved the new personnel systems for UW-System and UW-Madison. These new personnel systems are required by legislation and will be effective on July 1, 2015.

For more information about the approval, see the UW System press release

For information about the new University Personnel System (UPS), see the UPS website.

T. Rowe Price Offers Live Webinars April 1, 2 and 3

T. Rowe Price, one of the investment companies in your UW TSA 403(b) Program, again offers the well-received webinar Retirement Investing From Beginning to End. This is a live presentation over the web, and there will be time for you to ask questions and get your questions answered.

Retirement Investing From Beginning to End – This 40-minute program is a comprehensive presentation that explains asset classes, reviews the concepts of risk and return, and helps you make the most of your investment choices. The plan’s investment options will be discussed and profiled using market capitalization, investment style, and geographic characteristics.

  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

You may sign up and watch the presentation on your own computer. Listen to the audio portion on the telephone. Register for the live webinar.

New ETF Video: Interest Rates and Annuity Adjustments

The Department of Employee Trust Funds released an online video explaining how this year's Wisconsin Retirement System effective rates and annuity adjustments were calculated. The 13-minute presentation also covers the Core Fund smoothing process and the actuarial factors used in determining annuity adjustments. See ETF's news release for access to the video.

2013 Effective Rates and Annuity Adjustments for Wisconsin Retirement System Announced

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has announced the final Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) interest rates for 2013. The Core Fund effective rate of interest is 10.9% and the Variable Fund effective rate of interest is 31%. Interest rates are applied to the balance of employees' WRS accounts as of January 1, 2013. The rates are based on investment performance earned by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB). Click here for ETF's news release regarding 2013 interest rates.

ETF also announced Core and Variable annuity increases for retired members of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). The 2013 Core annuity adjustment is 4.7% and the Variable annuity adjustment is 25.0%. The rates go into effect May 1. Click here for ETF's news release regarding annuity adjustments.

No TSA Participant Fee in 2014!

Great news! There is no TSA annual fee for employees who contribute to the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program in 2014! The TSA Program is your supplemental retirement savings program.

As background, in 2012 the TSA fee was $15, which the Program was able to reduce to $12 in 2013. The University negotiated with TSA investment companies, so that the companies take on some of the administrative burden – and in 2014 the fee has been eliminated!

The UW TSA 403(b) Program is a low-cost program with great investment options. All funds are no-load: there are no sales commissions or broker fees. UW TSA investment companies have no annual fees. You have access to funds with special low-cost share classes like Fidelity K shares and TIAA-CREF Institutional-share class.

With as little as $20 for monthly employees or $8 for biweekly employees, you can start a TSA deduction. If you already participate in the UW TSA 403(b) Program, consider increasing your deferral. If you are not participating in the program, go to the TSA webpage to find out how to save for your future. Don’t delay!

2014 Tax-Sheltered Annuity and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Limits Announced

The IRS announced that because inflation has been very low there are not cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to the dollar limitations for 2014 contributions to the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program (TSA) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 Program (WDC). (The same limits as 2013.)

In 2014, employees may contribute a maximum of $17,500 to the TSA Program. Employees age 50 and over can contribute an additional $5,500 for a total of $23,000. These same limits apply to WDC. Employees can contribute the maximum to both programs for a total of $35,000 (under age 50) or $46,000 (age 50 or older).

If you have 15 years or more of service with the UW, you may have an additional "catch-up" opportunity with the TSA Program. Check with your human resources/benefits office to see if you are eligible. For more information, see the web page on TSA limits.

Both pre-tax and Roth after-tax 403(b) contributions count towards the annual limit. For example, if you are under 50, you could contribute $8,500 pre-tax and $9,000 Roth after-tax to each program. Please note Roth IRAs are an investment completely separate from the UW 403(b) Program.

Employees currently enrolled in the TSA Program can easily change TSA contributions for 2014 by submitting a Salary Reduction Agreement (SRA) to their human resources/benefits office. See the TSA website for more information about enrolling in the program.

If you want to change your deduction for 2014, you should submit your TSA Salary Reduction Agreement to your human resources/benefits office in early December. Clearly mark the form as calendar year 2014.

To change your WDC contribution or enroll in the WDC Program, call the WDC office at 1-877-457-9327 or enroll online.

WDC changes must be made with Great-West Retirement Services in early December 2013, so that they have adequate time to electronically remit the information to the payroll office.

If you want to maximize your TSA and/or WDC contributions for 2014, see the chart below to determine how much to contribute per paycheck.

Contributions by Paycheck
Number of Paychecks Annually 2014 Annual Maximum 2014 Amount per Paycheck
9 paychecks (under age 50) $17,500.00 $1,944.44
9 paychecks (age 50 and over) $23,000.00 $2,555.55
12 paychecks (under age 50) $17,500.00 $1,458.33
12 paychecks (age 50 and over) $23,000.00 $1,916.66
26 paychecks (under age 50) $17,500.00 $673.07
26 paychecks (age 50 and over) $23,000.00 $884.61

Note: No deductions are taken during the summer for employees paid on an academic year basis (9 paychecks annually).

2014 WRS Contribution Rates Announced

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) announced the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contribution rates for 2014. Your contribution rate is determined by your WRS employment category. Most UW employees are covered by either the general or teacher WRS category. High level administrators (chancellors, president, vice presidents, provosts...) are covered by the executive category, and those whose main duties are related to law enforcement or the protection of the public (police officers, fire fighters...) are covered by the protective category.

WRS contribution rates are set on an annual basis. The 2014 contribution rates will apply to all paychecks paid in 2014 beginning on January 2, 2014 for unclassified employees paid monthly and January 9, 2014 for classified employees paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

2013 and 2014 WRS Contribution Rates
 General/TeacherExecutivesProtectives w/
Social Security
2013 2014 2013 2014 2013 2014
Employee Contribution 6.65% 7.00% 7.00% 7.75% 6.65% 7.00%
Employer Contribution 6.65% 7.00% 7.00% 7.75% 9.75% 10.10%
Total 13.30% 14.00% 14.00% 15.50% 16.40% 17.10%

See the ETF press release for additional information about how contribution rates are set.

ETF Announces State-Wide WRS Presentations

ETF announced it will be offering two new WRS presentations across the state of Wisconsin. The first presentation is for new and mid-career employees (more than 5 years from retirement). This session will discuss how to enhance your retirement benefit, vesting requirements, contribution rates and much more.

The second session ETF will be offering is for employees nearing retirement. The information will include annuity options, retirement benefit calculations, annuity adjustments and more.

See ETF's Learning Opportunities page for information on these WRS presentations. Also available - group appointments, webinars and a video library.


archived news 2013