Changes to Wisconsin ETF Disability Benefits Programs in the New Year

Until recently, Wisconsin state and local government employees who were unable to continue working to normal retirement age due to disability could be eligible for one of two disability programs: Disability Retirement Benefits (§ 40.63) or Long Term Disability Insurance (LTDI).

Beginning January 1, 2018, however, the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has closed the LTDI program completely. Now, disabled Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employees only can apply for the Wis. Stat. § 40.63 Disability Retirement Benefit.

The good news is the program will be open to all employees; employees no longer have to meet the requirement of having worked in WRS-covered employment continuously since October 15, 1992 in order to be eligible.

Of course, there are other eligibility requirements, such as having enough credible service (see page 11 in the ETF Benefit Handbook) prior to your disability. To be eligible, ETF requires:

  • You have earned at least one-half (0.5) of a year of creditable service in five of the last seven years, or
  • You have earned a total of at least five years of creditable service in the last seven years.1

This service requirement is a more rigorous standard than the former LTDI program, which only required one-third (.33) year creditable service in at least five of the last seven calendar years.
In addition, you will need to stop working due to your disability, obtain proper medical documentation, and get a certification from your employer that your medical condition caused you to stop working and you are not expected to resume service.

If you are a public employee suffering from a medical condition that inhibits your ability to work, you may be eligible for the ETF Disability Retirement program. Contact Hawks Quindel if you would like arrange a consultation with one of its employee benefits attorneys.

1  If your disability is work-related, you may still be eligible if ETF receives your application within two years of your last day worked.

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