Changes to Disability Benefit Plans Effective January 1, 2018

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is making changes to the disability benefit plans offered, Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTDI) and Disability Retirement. Both plans provide income if a Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) participant becomes totally and permanently disabled. The plans have different eligibility requirements and different benefit calculations.

As of January 1, 2018, the LTDI benefit plan will close to new claims. Current recipients will continue to receive LTDI benefits. Employees with pending LTDI claims will be allowed to finish the claims process into 2018.

The Disability Retirement plan will be available to all eligible WRS participants effective January 1, 2018. Currently, the plan is only available to participants who have been working in WRS-covered employment continuously since October 15, 1992 until the date of disability.

Learn more about WRS Disability Benefit Plans.

Source: UW Service Center

Social Security and Medicare Taxes for 2018

The Social Security wage base has risen to $128,400 in 2018 from $127,200 in 2017. This means that the first $128,400 of an employee's taxable wages are subject to Social Security taxes. You and the UW will each pay 6.2% on taxable wages up to $128,400.

An employee's entire taxable salary is subject to Medicare tax. Both the UW and the employee pay 1.45% on all taxable compensation. Further, any taxable wages that exceed $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) are subject to an additional 0.9% tax. There is no employer match for additional Medicare tax.

Source: UW Service Center

Monthly Pay Date for December Earnings is January 2, 2018

For UW employees who are paid on the 1st of each month, the monthly pay date for December 2017 earnings is Tuesday, January 2, 2018. January 2 is the pay date because January 1 (New Year's Day) is a Federal Reserve holiday.

When a pay date falls on a weekend or Federal Reserve holiday, the pay date is usually the previous business day. An exception to this is the monthly pay date that falls on New Year's Day, January 1.

To avoid tax-related issues, the January 1 pay date for December earnings is paid in the new calendar year and must be the first "official banking business day" following the New Year's holiday. The "official banking business day" is defined as a calendar day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a Federal Reserve holiday.

Source: UW Service Center

Update Your Address by January 5, 2018 for W-2 Tax Form Distribution

As the end of 2017 approaches, make sure your current address is up-to-date for W-2 Tax Form distribution.

In late January 2018, your 2017 W-2 Form will be sent via U.S. mail to your mailing address as listed in the MyUW portal. If you do not have a mailing address, your W-2 will be mailed to your home address. If neither address is in the MyUW portal, your W-2 will be mailed to your office address.

To ensure your W-2 Form is sent to your preferred address, follow these steps:

  1.  Log in to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison.
  2.  Launch the Personal Information module to view your current mailing and/or home address. If the address you prefer for W-2 Form distribution is not displayed, update your mailing and/or home address.
  3.  To update your address, click on the Update my Personal Information link in the Personal Information module. For instructions on updating your address: https://uwservice.wisconsin.edu/help/personal-information.php
  4.  If you want to update your office address, you must contact your human resources office.
  5.  Update your address by the January 5, 2018 deadline in order for your W-2 to be mailed to the address you prefer.

Changing your address in the portal will not change your address for all of the benefit plans in which you are currently enrolled. For instructions on how to change your address for your benefit plans visit: Change in Name or Address.

In addition to the hard copy W-2 Form that you will receive, an online copy of your W-2 Form will be available in late January in the MyUW portal Payroll Information module in the Tax Statements tab.

If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW Service Center

Reminder: Use or Lose December 2017 Floating Legal Holidays

In December 2017 there are two floating holidays: Christmas Eve (Sunday, December 24) and New Year’s Eve (Sunday, December 31). The floating holidays occur because the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve legal holidays are on a Sunday, and the following Mondays, Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year’s Day (January 1) are also legal holidays.

Using Floating Legal Holidays

For University Staff (paid bi-weekly), floating holiday time can be used any time during the calendar year in which it is earned, but must be used prior to December 31.

This means that the December 24 and December 31 floating holidays will need to be used before the end of the calendar year. The December 31 New Year’s Eve holiday will need to be used before December 31.

For Faculty/Academic Staff/Limited Appointees (paid monthly), floating holiday time can be used any time during the fiscal year in which it is earned, but must be used prior to June 30.

You must make sure you have enough hours in your legal holiday balance to account for the remaining 2017 legal holidays and floating holiday time.

To view your legal holiday balance, log in to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison. Launch the Time and Absence module. Choose the Leave Balances tab to view your balance.

This balance is also available on your Earnings Statement under Leave Balances.
If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW Service Center

Absence Cancellation and Improved Efficiency Now Available in Self Service

On November 6, improved service and efficiencies were implemented in Self Service.

Absence Cancellation
The most noteable improvement is the ability for you to cancel or edit an absence request, even after your supervisor has already approved it.

Have you ever had to cancel time off at the last second? Well now you can go into Self Service and edit or cancel a request on your own, as long as you haven’t already been paid for the leave time on your pay check. You can cancel the absence request entirely, or you can switch the type of leave you are using, the day and the number of hours of leave.

As with anything related to your employment, check with your supervisor before using this new feature. They may have specific requirements for how they want you to change your absence requests.

Improved Efficiency
Since November 6, you may have noticed that a few of the Self Service features you access through the MyUW portal look a bit different. Specifically, if you have viewed your personal information or benefits enrollments, you likely noticed the new ‘look and feel’ intended to be simpler, less cluttered, and to play nicer with your smart phone or other mobile device.

If you haven’t visited the pages, you are encouraged to do so. The pages still work the same. You can still update your Home Address, Emergency Contacts and Marital Status and view your benefit enrollment information. But with the new page design, it should be a little easier to do when you’re on the go.

Source: UW Service Center

What You Need to Know About Your 2018 Insurance Benefits

Review your 2018 Benefit Enrollments

As 2017 draws to a close, now is a great time to review your 2018 insurance coverage and any changes you made during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period which ended on October 27, 2017.

To view your Benefits Summary, log in to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison. Launch the Benefit Information module. Choose the Summary tab at the top of the page and click View Benefits Summary Detail at the bottom of the page. At the top of the Benefits Summary page enter 01/01/2018 in the As Of date field and click Refresh to see your 2018 elections.

2018 Premiums

Premiums for 2018 coverage will be reflected on the pay check dated December 21, 2017 for University Staff (paid bi-weekly) and January 2, 2018 for Faculty, Academic Staff, and Limited Appointees (FA/AS/LI) (paid monthly).

Health Insurance

  • For most employees there are no changes to the employee premium contributions for State Group Health Insurance in 2018 as employee premium contributions will be the same as 2017. Crafts workers and employees paying the less-than-full-time rates may see their premium costs increase.
  • Annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for health insurance plans will reset at the beginning of the new plan year, January 1, 2018.
  • Health insurance plan member cards are typically sent by health plan providers to participants by the end of December. The 2018 plan cards are effective January 1, 2018, and you will need to present your card at appointments that occur on or after January 1, 2018.
  • Employees enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance program and their covered spouses and dependents must select a primary care provider (PCP).
    • Employees that do not currently have a designated PCP, should contact their health plan to request assistance in selecting a PCP for themselves and their dependents.
    • If employees do not select a PCP for themselves and their dependents, their health plan will contact them directly. In most cases, the health plan will auto-assign PCPs and provide information on how to change them.

Pharmacy Benefits

  • Navitus pharmacy cards (prescription drug coverage) for 2018 will only be sent to newly enrolled employees. Participants covered in 2017 will not receive a new card. 
  • Some pharmacies will no longer be in-network including CVS Pharmacy, Target and certain out-of-state pharmacies. 
  • Certain over-the-counter medications will no longer be covered such as steroid nasal sprays (Flonase®) and medication to treat heartburn (Prilosec®).
  • Lumicera and UW Specialty Pharmacy are replacing Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy as the preferred specialty pharmacy. Level 4 preferred drugs (specialty medications) must be filled at one of these pharmacies. Navitus will mail information to affected members.
  • Serve You Rx is replacing WellDyneRx as the mail order pharmacy. Navitus will mail information to affected members.
  • New discount drug list– Prescriptions that are not covered by the pharmacy benefit may be available at a discounted rate. This may include drugs for infertility, weight loss, cosmetic or other lifestyle needs as prescribed.
  • Find in-network pharmacies and formulary lists on the Navitus website, or call Navitus at 1-866-333-2757 with questions.

Wellness Wisconsin Program

To be eligible for the Wellness Incentive for 2018, a health screening, health assessment and a health engagement activity (new) will need to be completed. Watch for more information from StayWell early in 2018.

Uniform Dental Benefits

  • Bitewing x-ray coverage reduced from 2 per year to 1 per year.
  • Sealant benefit – maximum age for sealants increased from 16 to 19 years of age, once per lifetime for first and second molars only.
  • New - Medicament coverage – Medicament is a topical alternative to a filling intended to be a short-term solution, typically for primary teeth. The rate of application is low and used in limited situations. For example, application of medicament could be used as an alternative to general anesthesia for a primary tooth cavity in a child with special needs.
  • New - Evidence-Based Integrated Care Plan (EBICP) benefits – Expands benefits for specific health conditions which are considered to be at risk for adverse dental impacts. EBICP also provides additional dental cleanings.

Dental Wisconsin – Select Plan & PPO Plan

  • Premiums for Select Plan are increasing slightly, Premiums for the PPO Plan are decreasing slightly
  • Annual maximum benefit increased from $1,000 to $1,250 per member
  • Waiting periods for basic and major restorative services have been removed
  • Waiting period for orthodontics may not be waived
  • If you enrolled during ABE, you will be subject to: 
    • Graduated dental benefits: 
      • 2018: $600 annual maximum benefit
      • 2019: $800 annual maximum benefit
      • 2020: $1,250 annual maximum benefit (full benefit)
    • Orthodontic waiting period is 24 months

EPIC Benefits+

  • Premiums are decreasing
  • Waiting period for orthodontics may not be waived
  • If you enrolled during ABE, you will be subject to: 
    • Graduated dental benefits: 
      • 2018: $750 annual maximum benefit
      • 2019: $1,000 annual maximum benefit
      • 2020: $1,500 annual maximum benefit (full benefits)
    • Orthodontic waiting period is 24 months

VSP 2018 Changes

  • No change to premium
  • Increase in contact lens and frame allowances from $130 to $150
  • Contact lens exam copay reduced from $60 to $40
  • New - Full coverage for UV protection coating on eyeglass lenses
  • New - Primary EyeCare Supplemental Coverage, which includes additional benefits at a $20 copay
    • Treatment for eye pain or infection
    • Testing for sudden vision changes
    • Cataract monitoring exams
    • Retinal screenings

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

  • If you enrolled in the FSA for 2018, your first deduction for 2018 elections will be on the January 2, 2018 pay check for employees paid monthly, and the January 4, 2018 pay check for employees paid weekly. 
  • TASC cards will be sent to all new participants. 
    • Current FSA participants (those who participated in 2017 and have elected to continue participation in 2018) will not receive a new TASC card. Current participants should continue to use the TASC card that they have which will be loaded with their 2018 elected amount. 
  • December 31, 2017 is the last day to incur expenses for the 2017 plan year. 
  • March 31, 2018 is the last day to submit claims for 2017 FSA expenses. However, participants should substantiate all 2017 claims as soon as possible or be at risk of having payroll withholding.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

  • If you enrolled in HSA for 2018, your first deduction for 2018 elections will be on the January 2, 2018 pay check for employees paid monthly and the January 4, 2018 pay check for employees paid bi-weekly.
  • For 2018, the HSA annual maximum contribution increased from $3,400 to $3,450 for single coverage and from $6,750 to $6,900 for family coverage.

Individual and Family Life Insurance and UW Employees, Inc. Life Insurance Premiums

  • If you are moving into a new premium age category as of January 1, 2018, your premium will increase on the pay check dated December 21, 2017 for employees paid bi-weekly, and January 2, 2018 for employees paid monthly. Any premium change due to coverage level increases made during the Individual and Family Annual Increase Option period will also begin on these pay checks.

Income Continuation Insurance

  • The Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) premium will be increasing by 20%, effective February 1, 2018.

Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) Contributions

Employee and Employer Contribution Rates
The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employee and employer contributions rates for 2018 will decrease slightly for most employees. The employer contribution rate will decrease 0.1% from 6.8 to 6.7%, and the employee contribution rate will decrease 0.1% from 6.8 to 6.7% for a total decrease of 0.2%.

Protective employees without Social Security will see a 0.1% decrease in WRS contributions. Decreases will occur on the January 4, 2018 pay check for employees paid monthly, and the January 2, 2017 pay check for employees paid bi-weekly. Protective employees with Social Security will see no change in their contribution rate.

Additional Contributions
In addition to the employee-required contribution, employees may also contribute extra money to their WRS account on a post-tax basis. These deductions can be made through either payroll deduction or by sending a check to the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF).

Additional contributions begin to earn interest on January 1 after ETF receives contributions. Payments received in 2017 will not earn interest for calendar year 2017, but will begin earning interest on January 1, 2018. You may want to consider this when deciding what time of year to submit additional contributions to your account.

There is a limit to the amount that you can contribute on an annual basis. Use the Maximum Additional Contribution Worksheet to determine how much you can contribute this year. To elect additional contributions, complete the Additional Voluntary Contributions Form and submit it to your human resources office.

See the Additional Contributions Brochure for more information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

2018 Tax-Sheltered Annuity and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Limits

The IRS recently announced the 2018 contribution limits. These contribution limits apply to the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program (TSA) and the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 Program (WDC).

In 2018, employees may contribute a basic maximum of $18,500 to the TSA Program. Employees age 50 and over can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,500. These same limits apply to WDC. Employees can contribute the maximum to both programs for a total of $37,000 (under age 50) or $49,000 (age 50 or older).

If you have 15 years or more of service with the UW and have contributed less than an average of $5,000 per year over your UW employment, you may have an additional "catch-up" opportunity with the TSA Program. Contact your human resources office for more information.

Both pre-tax and Roth (after-tax) contributions count towards the annual limit. Note: IRAs are a type of retirement account separate from the UW 403(b) and WDC Programs and have separate limits.

If you want to change your TSA deduction for 2018 or enroll in the program, submit your TSA Salary Reduction Agreement to your human resources office in early December. If you are enrolling for the first time, enroll with the provider(s) of your choice either online, by EZ Enrollment form, or via paper application prior to submitting your Salary Reduction Agreement. Clearly mark the form as calendar year 2018.

For questions on the TSA program go to the TSA website or contact your human resources office.
To change your WDC contribution call the WDC office at 1-877-457-9327 or access your account at the WDC website. The WDC website also has information about enrolling in the program. WDC changes must be made with Empower, the third-party WDC plan administrator, in early December 2017, so that there is adequate time to electronically send the information to the UW Service Center.

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS News Online, November 2017

External link: http://etf.wi.gov/news/WRS_news_11132017/WRS_News_11132017.asp

Control Your Financial Future with the ETF Financial Fitness Program

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is offering a Financial Fitness Program that can assist you in taking control of your financial future. The program is available to all Wisconsin Retirement System members and offers free online financial educational resources for 12 months and a free consultation with a financial advisor.

To start, take the Financial Fitness Checkup, a confidential and secure online survey that helps you discover your strengths and weaknesses in personal finance knowledge. Taking the checkup takes approximately 10 minutes. Once you complete the checkup, you’ll have access to other no-cost services, such as:

  • Financial Fitness Academy (a $200 value)
  • The Academy provides access to online tutorials on budgeting, investments, retirement planning, debt management and many other topics. You will also gain access to calculators and other tools.
  • Financial Fitness Coaching
    You will receive one-on-one counseling time with an Ameriprise financial advisor to help you set goals, create a plan, and answer questions free of charge for up to 30 days.

Visit the ETF Financial Fitness Program website for more details and to sign up!

Source: UW System Human Resources

ALEX: Your Personalized Benefits Counselor

The UW System introduced a new interactive benefits decision tool, called ALEX, for the recent Annual Benefits Enrolllment (ABE) period. ABE is over for 2018 elections but ALEX is here to stay!

ALEX is a personalized benefits counselor that can help you understand the benefits plans and options that are offered to you and your family. Whether you’re a new or longtime employee, ALEX is available to anyone at anytime to learn more about the benefits that are offered or that you have selected. Even if you don’t have a current enrollment opportunity, ALEX can be a helpful tool.

ALEX reflects the 2018 benefits and premium amounts. In early December, ALEX will be enhanced to include modules about the life insurance plans, Income Continuation Insurance, the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), as well as the supplemental retirement plans [Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC). There will also be some enhancements based on employee feedback received during ABE.

We hope that you will make it a habit to visit ALEX with your basic benefits questions!

Source: UW System Human Resources

Health Plan Changes for 2018

The following health plan changes to the 2018 State Group Health Insurance program were approved by the Group Insurance Board on August 30, 2017.

The following health plans have elected not to participate in the program in 2018:

  • Anthem Blue Preferred Northeast
  • Arise Health Plan
  • Health Tradition Health Plan
  • Humana Eastern and Western
  • UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin

Other Plan Changes

Network Health Northeast and Network Health Southeast will combine into Network Health to offer one coverage area. Participants were auto-enrolled in the new combined plan, Network Health, unless they took the option of selecting a different plan during the Annual Benefit Enrollment (ABE) period that ended Friday, October 27.

Gundersen Health Plan, Physicians Plus and Unity Health Insurance will be offered under the name Quartz. Participants of these plans were auto-enrolled in either Quartz-Community or Quartz-UW Health, unless they took the option of selecting a different plan during ABE.

WEA Trust will replace WPS as the new administrator of the Access Plan and the State Maintenance Plan (SMP) for 2018.

SMP will only be available in Florence county. SMP is not available in Bayfield, Buffalo, Forest, Iron, Marquette, Menominee and Pepin counties.

If you are currently enrolled in the SMP, and you live OUTSIDE of Florence county, you should have re-enroll in the SMP or selected a new health plan during ABE. If you are currently enrolled in the SMP, and you live IN Florence county you will continue to be enrolled in this plan unless you selected a new health plan during ABE.

Health Plans Being Offered in 2018

The Group Insurance Board approved the following health plan carriers to be available in 2018.

Health Plan and High Deductible Health Plan:

  • Dean Health Insurance and Dean Health Insurance-Prevea360
  • Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire
  • Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
  • HealthPartners Health Plan
  • Medical Associates Health Plans
  • MercyCare Health Plans
  • Network Health
  • Security Health Plan – Central and Valley
  • Quartz – Community and UW Health (formerly Gundersen, Physicians Plus and Unity)
  • WEA Trust – East, Northwest Chippewa Valley and Mayo Clinic Health System

Access Plan, Access High Deductible Health Plan and State Maintenance Plan (SMP):

  • WEA Trust

Questions

If you have questions, please contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Domestic Partnership Impacts - 2017-19 State Budget Bill Signed

On September 21, 2017, Governor Walker signed the 2017-2019 State Budget Bill (2017 Wisconsin Act 59). The budget bill contains a provision that eliminates the Chapter 40 domestic partnership program which will impact employees who are in a domestic partnership.

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has completed its initial review of the budget bill to identify all implications for the Wisconsin Retirement System and ETF-administered benefit programs (including health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance and flexible spending accounts). An ETF summary of the budget bill is available below.

Targeted communications will be mailed by ETF to employees who currently cover a domestic partner and/or dependent step-children to inform them of the impacts of the budget bill and any action they may need to take. Information about continuation of coverage (for up to 36-months) will be sent to affected domestic partner and dependent step-children in late December 2017. The notices will be sent by the UW Service Center.

Resource: ETF Summary of 2017 Wisconsin Act 59

Source: UW System Human Resources

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