Retirement Benefits

 


 

 

 

Retirement Benefits Overview:


  • The Employees' Retirement System of the County of Milwaukee (The 'Retirement System') was created to encourage qualified personnel to enter and remain in the service of the County of Milwaukee (The 'County') by providing for a system of retirement, disability and death benefits for its employees. The Retirement System was created by Section 201.24 of the General Ordinances:  (The 'Ordinance' of the County) The authority to manage and control the Retirement System is vested in the Pension Board.

  • The Pension Board consists of nine members - three members appointed by the County Executive (subject to confirmation by the County Board of Supervisors), two members appointed by County Board Chairman (subject to confirmation by the County Board of Supervisors), three employee members elected by the employee participants and one retiree member elected by retired participants.

  • The following discussion is a brief synopsis of the various regulations:

    • Please keep in mind that this is a technical area which is regulated by Federal and State laws, Milwaukee County Ordinances and labor contracts.

    • If you need further clarification, please contact the Retirement Division.

 Eligibility and Enrollment:

  • Most Milwaukee County employees are considered mandatory members of ERS. 
  • Employees who are ineligible to participate in ERS are described below.
  • You will be asked to complete a membership form and to designate a beneficiary at the New Employee Orientation session.   

Some employees are excluded from membership in ERS:


  • All Milwaukee County employees who are hourly without a scheduled workweek and employees paid on a per call or fee basis, seasonal employees, emergency appointments (EA), athletic officials, student workers, interns, trainees, non-civil service positions including resident physicians, members of boards and commissions (except members of the County Board of Supervisors) are not eligible to receive an ERS retirement benefit. 

 Required Contribution- Account Balances:

  • A terminated employee's right to the distribution of his or her membership account is governed by Milwaukee County Code of General Ordinances section 201.24(3.5). 
    • Members shall not be eligible to receive a refund of the portion of the membership account attributable to employee contributions if the member's employment with the County was terminated due to fault or delinquency on the member's part or if the member or a beneficiary of the member is eligible, at the time the request for a refund is made, for the present receipt of any monthly annuity benefit under Ordinance sections 201.24(4.1), (4.5), (6.1), (6.2), (6.4), (7.1) or (7.2).   

    • Membership Account balance includes the employee contributions made to ERS during employment with Milwaukee County; at termination a member can leave their funds in the plan or they may withdraw their contributions. 

  • If a member terminates and does not request to withdraw their contributions, their prior employee contributions will remain in ERS and they will maintain the membership in the plan. If vested, the member remains eligible for a benefit according to the terms of the ERS Ordinances and Rules. 

  • If a member terminates and is not vested in a pension benefit, and does not return to service with Milwaukee County and become vested according to the requirements of the ERS Ordinances and the balance of the Membership Account will be forfeited and the member will not be entitled to a pension benefit under this plan at any time. A member can elect to receive a distribution of the balance of my ERS Membership Account under the terms of Milwaukee County Ordinance section 201.24(3.5). 

  • By cashing out their Membership Account, any service credit under ERS is terminated and ERS membership will cease resulting in no further right to any benefit under this plan. If the terminated member returns to County employment and accrues new service, any benefit received will be based only on the new service accrued. 

  • This termination of service credit and future pension benefit applies even if I am vested in a pension benefit or become vested in a pension benefit in the future and would otherwise receive a pension benefit under the terms of the Ordinances and Rules.

  •  The election to withdraw Membership Account balances must be made within 180 days after termination of employment and is irrevocable once made. 

 


If an election is not made within 180 days after termination of employment, the Membership Account will be maintained with ERS.


 

 Pension Benefits:

  • The normal retirement benefit is a monthly pension for the life of the member beginning at normal retirement age.
  • The pension amount is determined by the following formula: 

    • Multiplier x Creditable Service x Final Average Salary. Optional forms of payment that are the actuarial equivalent of the member’s benefit may be elected upon retirement.

  • For most members, the normal retirement age is either 60 or 64 depending on ERS enrollment date and collective bargaining agreement. A few labor agreements also require a minimum of 5 years creditable service in addition to the age requirement. For deputy sheriff members, the normal retirement age is 57 or age 55 with 15 years of creditable service. 

  • Depending on enrollment date and collective bargaining agreement, some active members are eligible to retire when their age added to their years of creditable service equals 75 (the “Rule of 75”).  The multiplier is determined by Ordinance, collective bargaining agreement and ERS enrollment date:

    • At this time, the multiplier percentage can be 1.5%, 1.6%, 2% or 2.5%. 
  • A member’s 3 or 5 consecutive years of highest earnings are used to calculate their final average salary as defined by Ordinance and labor agreement.

  • Annually after retirement the monthly benefit is increased by 2% of the benefit paid for the first full month of retirement. 

  • By Ordinance, the maximum benefit (excluding post-retirement increases) payable to a member cannot exceed the sum of 80% of the member’s final average monthly salary.

  • An ERS member who meets the requirements for an accidental or ordinary disability retirement benefit is entitled to an amount computed in the same manner as a normal pension but not less than 60% of the member’s final average salary for accidental disability. A total of 15 years of creditable service is required to apply for ordinary disability.

  • A member who is 55 years of age and has 15 years of credited service may elect to receive early reduced retirement benefits. 

    • The member would be entitled to a benefit computed in the same manner as a normal pension with a lifetime reduction of 5% for each year prior to the normal retirement date.

  • Vesting is defined as the right to a pension benefit. (The current vesting requirement is 5 years of credited service for most employees and 10 years of service for Deputy Sheriffs.

  • Members who terminate Milwaukee County employment after becoming vested but before they are eligible to receive a benefit are known as deferred vested.

  • Deferred vested members can receive pension benefits beginning the month following attainment of normal retirement age.

 Survivor Benefits:

  • Upon the death of an active ERS member who is not yet eligible to retire (and usually after one year of service depending on labor agreement), the surviving dependent spouse with one dependent child (as defined by Ordinance) will receive 40% of the deceased participant’s salary offset by an amount equal to Social Security benefits payable to the spouse.

    •  An additional 10% of salary, offset by Social Security, is paid for each dependent child.

    •  The total benefit, if there are more than five eligible dependent children, generally cannot exceed 90% of salary including Social Security benefits.

  • Upon attaining age 60 (if not remarried), the dependent spouse will receive 50% of the normal retirement benefit considering projected service to the time the deceased employee would have attained age 60. If there is no dependent spouse or child, the death benefit payable to a designated beneficiary is equal to 50% of the deceased participant’s final average salary, but not to exceed $2,000.

    •  In order to receive lump sum benefits, you will be asked to complete a beneficiary designation form upon enrollment in ERS. 

    • Please remember to keep your beneficiary designation current. 

    • Special survivor provisions cover Deputy Sheriffs if their death occurs as a result of an accident in the actual performance of duty.

 

 Military Service Credit:

  • ERS members may qualify for additional pension service credit for time served in the United States Armed Forces between January 1, 1938 and December 31, 1974. 

  • The maximum military credit (or fractions thereof) is four (4) based on total County pension service credit upon retirement as follows:

 

Years of County Service

Years of Military Credit

5

Up to 1

10

Up to 2

15

Up to 3

20

Up to 4 (maximum)

  • Military service credit cannot be used toward determining pension service credit required for vesting or retirement.

  • To request for military service credit, you will need to complete an application form and provide a copy of your Form DD214 (military discharge).

 


Application forms are available from the ERS office.


 

 OBRA:

  • The OBRA 1990 Retirement System of the County of Milwaukee (known as OBRA) was established to provide retirement benefits for temporary, seasonal and other non-traditional employees who do not elect to enroll in ERS. 

  • The OBRA system is non-contributory. 

  • OBRA members are immediately vested and earn a benefit equal to 2% of their covered salary for each year of OBRA service. 

  • Benefits are payable at age 65. 

  • OBRA has no provision for death, survivor or disability benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Milwaukee County is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer that is actively seeking qualified applicants for various positions throughout County government. Milwaukee County does not discriminate based on age, ancestry/national origin, arrest/conviction record, color, creed, disability, marital status, military membership, race, sex or sexual orientation.

 

If special accommodations are needed, please contact 414-278-4143

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