Notice of Hearing
Employee Trust Funds
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) proposes an order pursuant to s. 227.14
, Stats., to amend sections ETF 20.35 (1) (b)
, (4) (c) 3.
, (7) (a)
, and (8) (b)
; and to create sections ETF 20.35 (8) (d)
, and (10)
, relating to the division of Wisconsin retirement system accounts under a qualified domestic relations order.
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011
Time: 1:00 P.M.
Location: 801 W. Badger Road
Conference Room GA
Madison, WI 53713
Persons wishing to attend should come to the reception desk located up the stairs and directly to the left (or by elevator) from the main entrance to the building.
Submittal of Written Comments
Comments may be submitted to: Lucas Strelow, Policy Analyst, Department of Employee Trust Funds, 801 W Badger Rd, Madison, WI 53713-7931, P.O. Box 7931 (use ZIP Code 53707 for PO Box); Phone: 608-267-0722; E-mail: email@example.com,
no later than 4:30 p.m., Central Standard Time, on October 24, 2011
Copies of Proposed Rule
Copies of the proposed rule are available without cost from the Office of the Secretary, Department of Employee Trust Funds, P.O. Box 7931, Madison, WI 53707-7931. The telephone number is: (608) 266-1071.
Analysis Prepared by Department of Employee Trust Funds
Explanation of Statutory Authority
By statute, the ETF Secretary is expressly authorized, with appropriate board approval, to promulgate rules required for the efficient administration of any benefit plan established in ch. 40
of the Wisconsin statutes. Also, each state agency may promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of any statute enforced or administered by the agency if the agency considers it necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute.
Related rules or statutes
There are no other rules that clarify the circumstances under which ETF will handle the division of WRS accounts and annuities.
Plain language analysis
These rule changes add language for domestic partner QDROs, address tax concerns under IRC S. 415 (b), clarify procedure, and provide ETF with more flexibility in handling QDROs received out of sequence. These changes include the following:
In order to remain in compliance with 2009 Wisconsin Act 28
, language must be added throughout ETF 20.35 to make QDROs applicable to domestic partnerships.
Currently, ETF 20.35 has no procedure to follow when multiple QDROs are received out of sequence in relation to their decree date. In other words, if the department receives more than one QDRO awarding a portion of the participant's WRS account or annuity to different “alternate" payees, but the award received by ETF first was issued by the court on a later date than the other(s), ETF has no rule for choosing which payee should receive the award. The newly proposed rule, under ETF 20.35 (9), divides the account chronologically in the order in which the department receives the QDRO. This policy is meant to encourage the timely submittal of QDROs to ETF and to manage the inherent difficulty of payment of a QDRO received out of sequence.
An amendment, under ETF 20.35 (3) (c) (5), is added to address add-on service for part-time non-teaching staff. Language governing creditable service for these individuals was not included in the previous rule.
An amendment to the rule, under ETF 20.35 (8) (d), fills a gap in procedure regarding retroactive annuity payments. The rule clarifies that no interest is payable from ETF on retroactive annuity payments made to alternate payees for any months prior to ETF's receipt of a QDRO. No interest is due because the WRS account is divided only when the QDRO is received by ETF, rather than at the time of its decree date.
An amendment, under ETF 20.35 (6) (c), changes the language to invalidate QDROs received after the alternate payee's date of death. Previously, language only invalidated a QDRO upon the participant's death.
• An amendment, under ETF 20.35 (8) (c), addresses retroactive corrections that result in a benefit below statutory thresholds. The amendment clarifies that retroactive corrections below the threshold are not payable.
Finally, in order to ensure compliance with the Internal Revenue Code, an amendment to the code, ETF 20.35 (10), addresses how to apply IRC 415 (b) limits to the participant's and alternate payee's aggregate benefits. The department is given flexibility under the amendment to make necessary adjustments to the participant's and alternate payee's benefits on an equitable pro rata basis to assure tax compliance.
Comparison with federal regulations
There are no existing federal regulations that specifically address how public retirement plans are to administer domestic partner QDRO's. IRC 415 (b) limits are, however, one federal statutory limitation that the proposed rule change stands to address. The amendment is written to ensure continued compliance with these federal tax laws, which provide for a general dollar limit that the plan can pay an annuitant annually.
Comparison with rules in adjacent states
Illinois – The State of Illinois does not have domestic partnerships, and the state's civil unions are not given pension rights. The State Retirement System of Illinois (SRS) does not include domestic partnership or civil union language in its QDRO rule. SRS also does not have a rule in place for multiple QDROs received out of sequence, nor does it have a rule addressing compliance with S. 415 (b) of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the aggregate benefits paid to participant and alternate payee.
Iowa – Iowa allows same-sex marriage, but uses the term “administrable domestic relations order" or “ADRO" to govern a domestic relations order that divides the marital property of same gender spouses. The Iowa Public Employee Retirement System (IPERS) has incorporated the ADRO into its domestic relations order rule, primarily as an addition to existing language. IPERS does not have a rule in place for multiple QDROs (or ADROs) received out of sequence, nor does it have a rule addressing compliance with S. 415 (b) of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the aggregate benefits paid to participant and alternate payee.
Michigan – Michigan's Constitution bans same-sex marriage and other kinds of same-sex unions. Domestic partnership language is not within the State Employees Retirement System of Michigan regulations on QDROs. The State Employees Retirement System of Michigan also does not have a rule in place for multiple QDROs received out of sequence, nor does it have a rule addressing compliance with S. 415 (b) of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the aggregate benefits paid to participant and alternate payee.
Minnesota – Minnesota does not provide for domestic partnerships, and the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) does not include language for them in its QDRO rule. MSRS also does not have a rule in place for multiple QDROs received out of sequence, nor does it have a rule addressing compliance with S. 415 (b) of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the aggregate benefits paid to participant and alternate payee.
Summary of data and analytical methodologies
The proposed rule amendment is intended to make ETF's QDRO rule clearer and more flexible, as well as to bring it into closer harmony with state and federal statutes.
Analysis and supporting documentation used to determine effect on small business
The rule does not have an effect on small businesses because private employers and their employees do not participate in, and are not covered by, the Wisconsin Retirement System.
Small Business Impact
There is no effect on small business.
The rule will not have any fiscal effect on the administration of the Wisconsin Retirement System, nor will it have any fiscal effect on the private sector, the state or on any county, city, village, town, school district, technical college district, or sewerage districts.
Agency Contact Person
Lucas Strelow, Policy Analyst, Department of Employee Trust Funds, 801 W Badger Rd, Madison, WI 53713-7931, P.O. Box 7931 (use ZIP Code 53707 for PO Box); Phone: 608-267-0722; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org