2010 News Archive

Use of Floating Legal Holidays December 25, 2010 and January 1, 2011

All employees eligible to earn and use legal holidays should note that Christmas Day, Saturday December 25, 2010, and New Year's Day, Saturday, January 1, 2011, are floating legal holidays since these holidays fall on a regularly scheduled day off (a Saturday) for most employees.

Classified Employees - Use of Floating Holiday

  1. For classified employees (those paid bi-weekly), floating holiday time can be used anytime during the calendar year in which it is granted, but MUST be used by the end of the calendar year. For example:
  2. The December 25, 2010 floating legal holiday must be used by December 31, 2010.
  3. The January 1, 2011 floating legal holiday must be used by December 31, 2011.
  4. There are no provisions that allow classified employees to carryover floating holiday time into the next calendar year.

Unclassified Employees - Use of Floating Holiday

For unclassified employees (those paid monthly), floating holiday time can be used anytime during the fiscal year in which it is granted (July 1 - June 30), but MUST be used by the end of the fiscal year. For example:

  1. The December 25, 2010 floating legal holiday must be used by June 30, 2011.
  2. The January 1, 2011 floating legal holiday must be used by June 30, 2011.
  3. Unused floating holiday time is lost after June 30.

For both classified and unclassified employees, floating holiday time is allocated to the employee during the pay period in which the holiday falls and will appear on the next leave or earnings statement. When floating holiday time is used before the holiday occurs, the balance will appear as a negative number on the earnings statement and in the leave accounting system.

Source: UW Service Center

Unclassified Monthly Pay Date for December Earnings is January 3, 2011

TO: Unclassified employees paid on the 1st of the month.

If you are normally paid on the 1st of the month, this is a reminder that the Unclassified monthly pay date for December earnings is January 3, 2011 since January 1, 2011 is a Saturday.

When a pay date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Federal Reserve holiday, the pay date is usually the previous business day or non-Federal Reserve holiday. An exception to this normal pay date provision is the Unclassified monthly pay date that falls on New Year's Day - January 1. To avoid tax-related issues, the January pay date for December earnings must be the "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

Change in Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) Contribution Rates for 2011

As you may know, most UW employees currently are not required to contribute anything toward their Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) fund. However, during its annual review process in June 2010, the Employee Trust Funds (ETF) Board approved changes that will now require a modest WRS employee contribution for 2011. The increased rates were deemed necessary by the ETF Board to maintain solid funding of the WRS, which suffered large investment losses during the 2008 downturn of the stock market.

Please note these rates are effective for 2011 and will be reviewed again prior to the 2012 calendar year. Please also note the UW System is prohibited, under the 2009-11 compensation plan and collective bargaining agreements, from paying the increased portion of the required contribution.

Here is what the change means for you:

As of January, employees will be required to pay the following contribution rates of WRS-covered earnings for 2011:

  • Most UW System employees, including faculty, academic staff, and permanent classified staff: 0.2% (two tenths of one percent) contribution rate;
  • Protective employees: 0.8% (eight tenths of one percent) contribution rate;
  • Employees covered by the Building Trades bargaining agreement: 1% contribution rate (no change from 2010); and
  • LTEs: 2.5% contribution rate.

UW System will pay the remainder of the WRS contribution rate for 2011. The WRS contribution rate paid by UW System on behalf of most employees will be 11.4% of earnings (20.5% for protective occupation employees, 10.6% for Building Trades employees, and 9.1% for LTEs).

Any required WRS contributions are automatically deducted from an employee's paycheck. Unclassified employees (paid monthly) will first have a WRS deduction on the January 3, 2011 paycheck and classified employees (paid bi-weekly) will have the first deduction on the January 13, 2011 paycheck. For example, 0.2% of an annual salary of $40,000 amounts to $3.08 per biweekly paycheck and $6.67 per monthly paycheck.

For additional information, see http://www.uwsa.edu/hr/benefits/WRSratefaq.pdf. This document will be updated and expanded to reflect additional FAQs as needed.

Source: UW System Administration

No Change In Social Security and Medicare Wage Bases and Rates for 2011

Note: This news item was revised on January 3, 2011 to reflect new information. View the updated news item: Employee Tax Rate for Social Security Reduced to 4.2% for 2011; Other Tax Law Changes Will Impact Employee Take-Home Pay.

The Social Security and Medicare wage bases, the amount of an employee's salary that can be taxed for Social Security and Medicare purposes, will not change for 2011. The first $106,800 of an employee's wages are taxable for Social Security purposes and an employee's entire salary is taxable for Medicare purposes.

Because there is no cost-of-living adjustment for January 1, 2011, the Social Security (full FICA) wage base for 2011 will be the same as the wage base for 2010, $106,800. The Medicare wage base will not have a dollar limit for 2011.

The employer and employee tax rates will remain the same in 2011. The Social Security (full FICA) rate remains at 7.65% (6.20% Social Security plus 1.45% Medicare) for wages up to $106,800. All wages over $106,800 are subject only to the 1.45% Medicare rate. The rate remains at 1.45% for others who are subject only to Medicare.

The University matches the employee contribution rate and amount for both the Social Security and Medicare components. The amount listed on employee earnings statements as SOC SEC is the total of the Social Security and Medicare tax withholding, which is sometimes referred to as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.

Related Link: Social Security Administration, Maximum Taxable Earnings

Source: UW Service Center and the Social Security Administration

State Group Health and State Group Life Insurance Premium Holiday

UW employees that are enrolled in State Group Health (SGH) and/or State Group Life (SGL) insurance will not have a premium deduction taken from their November earnings for either of these plans.

Employees currently pay SGH and SGL insurance premiums two months in advance of coverage. Beginning with coverage for January 2011, the premiums will be paid one month in advance of the coverage month. During the transition period, employees will not have SGH and SGL premium deductions for one month this is considered a premium holiday. Normal payroll deductions will resume after the one-month premium holiday.

The one-month premium holiday applies to SGH and SGL premium deductions only. All other benefit premium deductions will still be taken from your November earnings.

The following paychecks will be affected:

Classified employees (those paid bi-weekly): No SGH insurance deduction on the November 18, 2010 paycheck, and no SGL insurance deduction on the December 2, 2010 paycheck.

Unclassified employees (those paid monthly): No SGH or SGL insurance deductions from the December 1, 2010 paycheck.

Your earnings statement during the premium holiday: On your earnings statement(s) affected by the premium holiday, you will not see the monthly amount you pay for SGH or SGL. If enrolled in SGH insurance, you will see the statement "HLTH PREM HOL" instead of the name of your health plan, and the word "YES" instead of the monthly premium.

If enrolled in SGL insurance, you will see the statement "LIFE PREM HOL" instead of the name(s) of the SGL levels in which you are enrolled, and the word "YES" instead of the monthly premium.

For additional information, see the Premium Holiday FAQ or contact your benefits office.

Source: UW System Administration

Retirement Investing Webinar November 4 and 5

T. Rowe Price, one of the investment companies in the UW TSA 403(b) Program, will be offering the webinar “Retirement Investing from Beginning to End” presented by Drew Kessler. Drew is a Retirement Specialist in T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services. He is passionate about educating investors on retirement planning and setting them up for retirement success.

This 40-minute program will explain asset classes, review the concepts of risk and return and help employees make the most of their investment choices. The plan's investment options are discussed and profiled using market capitalization, investment style, and geographic characteristics. There will also be a question and answer period during the webinar.

Details about the webinar are available online at: http://www.uwsa.edu/hr/benefits/retsav/trpwebinar.htm.

Source: UW System Administration

Benefit Enrollment and Change Period Begins October 4

There are important changes to your benefits for 2011 that may require you to take action during the Benefit Enrollment & Change Period that begins on October 4, 2010 and ends on October 29, 2010 for most plans. This is the only time during the year when you are eligible to make benefit plan changes unless you have a life event (marriage, birth, divorce...) that allows you to add or change benefits. All benefit enrollments and changes made during this period will be effective January 1, 2011.

Detailed benefit information will be available in late September both online at www.uwservice.wisc.edu/2011 and in My UW System. Information for UW-Madison employees will be available on the Work Record tab in My UW. Please also watch your email for details.

You may take the following actions during the benefit enrollment and change period:

  • Change health insurance plans
  • Change from single to family health insurance or add additional eligible family members to family health insurance (including married children under age 26 and unmarried children under age 27)
  • Enroll in plans that have an open enrollment (vision, dental, EPIC Benefits+)
  • Enroll in Employee Reimbursement Account (medical expense and dependent care)
  • Cancel vision or dental coverage for the 2011 plan year (must submit application by December 1)
  • Remove eligible dependent children ages 19-27 or a domestic partner from benefit plans

Watch for benefit plan changes for 2011:

  • Stand-alone dental insurance - there will be a new dental plan, Dental Wisconsin, offered
  • EPIC Dental & Excess Medical changed its name to EPIC Benefits+ and has added an optional vision insurance benefit to its plan
  • Married children under age 26 will be eligible for coverage under State Group Health Insurance
  • Many over-the-counter drugs will no longer be a reimbursable medical expense under the Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA) program.
  • Coverage and benefit levels under the Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance plan will be expanded.

Prior to the Benefit Enrollment & Change Period, you should review the benefit plans in which you are currently enrolled by looking at the benefit deductions on your earnings statements and at your most recent UW System University Staff Benefits Statement. Most employees can access their earnings and benefits statements in My UW System. UW-Madison employees can access their earnings statements in My UW, under the Work Record tab.

Source: UW System Administration

ETF Launches "myETF Benefits" System

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) recently launched the "myETF Benefits" system, a new online service that allows employees covered under the State Group Health Insurance program to view their health insurance coverage information online. Employees may also see information on different benefit topics and view historical changes related to their health insurance coverage.

Employees across the UW System will continue to use a paper health insurance application to enroll in and make changes to health insurance coverage. On-line enrollment for State Group Health and other insurances will be implemented with the new UW System Human Resource System (HRS) scheduled for implementation later in 2011.

Note: Employees of other state agencies and local municipalities will be able to use the electronic enrollment function of the "myETF Benefits" system to enroll in and make changes to health insurance coverage this year. See ETF's website for detailed information about to access the "myETF Benefits" website: http://www.etf.wi.gov/news/ht_20100809.htm.

Source: UW System Administration

Multiple (Summer) Deductions for Unclassified Nine-Month Appointees

UW Unclassified appointees (Academic Staff, Faculty, Graduate Assistants, and Employees-in-Training) who have nine-month (academic year) appointments and certain other Unclassified employees who are expected to return to UW employment in the Fall will have multiple insurance deductions taken from May earnings (payable June 1) so that insurance coverage continues through the summer months. Since most insurance premiums are paid in advance of coverage, the additional three deductions from May earnings (for June, July and August) will maintain coverage until deductions resume with September earnings.

Multiple deductions are not taken for Tax-Sheltered Annuities, Deferred Compensation or the Employe Reimbursement Account (ERA) program. Deductions for these programs will automatically resume on the October 1 pay check.

If you are a UW Unclassified appointee with a nine-month appointment, and you work during the summer, you will not have multiple insurance deductions taken from May earnings.

Please contact your benefits office if you have questions about the Multiple (summer) deductions.

Source: UW Service Center

2010 Staff Benefits Statements Now Available

UW employees now have access to their Staff Benefits Statements in the My UW System portal. The benefits statement provides employees with an overview of their benefit and insurance plans, coverage level and the projected annual costs paid by the employee and the University. The estimated premium, Social Security and retirement projections for the calendar year are based on salary information and benefit enrollments in effect on April 1, 2010. Employees should review their statement for benefit enrollments and coverage levels; a detailed explanation of the statement is available online: Explanation of UW Staff Benefits Statement

Please contact your benefits office if you have questions about your statement.

The statement is produced once a year for employees covered under the Wisconsin Retirement System; employees on unpaid leave of absence and graduate appointees do not receive a statement.

Source: UW Service Center

COBRA Premium Assistance Program Extended

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), includes provisions that provide COBRA premium assistance to employees who are involuntarily terminated from employment who continue health insurance and other related medical benefits through COBRA provisions. On April 15, 2010, ARRA was amended for a third time by the Continuing Extension Act of 2010. Prior to this amendment, only employees who involuntarily terminated employment at any point from September 1, 2008 through March 31, 2010 were eligible to apply for COBRA premium assistance. This recent amendment expanded eligibility to include anyone who involuntarily terminates employment through May 31, 2010.

If eligible for COBRA premium assistance, the University of Wisconsin will pay up to 65% of the COBRA premium for health insurance and other medical-related insurance premiums for up to 15 months of COBRA coverage.

UW employees who carry health insurance or any other medical related benefits who terminate employment through May 31, 2010, will be sent a COBRA notice and packet of information describing how to apply for COBRA premium assistance from their staff benefits office.

For more information:
UWSA COBRA Premium Assistance Page
Department of Labor COBRA Premium Assistance Page

Source: UW System Administration

ETF "Your WRS Benefits" Live Webcast April 15, 7-9pm

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) will broadcast a live interactive employee benefits presentation for Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) participants considering or planning retirement in the near future.

Topics covered include WRS retirement, separation and survivor benefits, as well as health and life insurance benefits options at retirement. Online viewers will be able participate in the presentation by emailing questions directly to the presenter.

Your WRS Benefits 2010 Video (April 15, 7-9pm): Click to view the video presentation

Viewing requirements:

  • High speed (broadband) internet connection
  • Windows Media Player
  • Speakers or a headset

This video will also be available beginning April 16, 2010 in the ETF Video Library for on demand viewing at anytime.

Source: Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF)

Wisconsin Retirement System Annual Statement of Benefits

UW employees covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) in 2009 will be receiving their annual WRS statement in campus mail beginning the week of April 12, 2010. The statement provides employees with information about their individual WRS account as of January 1, 2010. The statement includes:

  • 2009 WRS earnings and creditable service;
  • Total years of WRS creditable service;
  • The 2009 effective rate of interest and contributions applied to your account;
  • Additional contribution information (if applicable);
  • Primary beneficiary, if you have filed a beneficiary designation since 1982;
  • Separation benefit and death benefit calculations;
  • Formula benefit data and money purchase balance information showing the data used to calculate your retirement benefit. If you participate in the Variable Fund, it will also list your Variable account excess / deficiency as of January 1, 2010.

Employees should review their statement. A complete explanation is included with the statement. In addition, employees can view the Employee Trust Funds "Your Annual Statement of Benefits" video for detailed information on how to interpret their statement.

Note: Classified employees may notice that their 2008 earnings are higher than their 2009 earnings. This is due to there being 27 pay periods in 2008 and 26 pay periods in 2009. All employees receive full WRS credit for any furlough time taken.

Related link: 2010 Variable Fund Effective Rate and Variable Annuity Adjustment (revised March 26)

If you have questions, please contact your campus benefits office.

Source: UW Service Center

ETF Releases Revised State Group Life Insurance Booklet

Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has released an updated edition of the Wisconsin Public Employers Group Life Insurance booklet. The plan, available to all UW employees who enroll and have completed six months of service under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), provides Basic, Supplemental, and Additional levels of coverage that are based on an employee's previous calendar year earnings, as reported to WRS. An employee can elect to have up to 5 times their annual income in coverage. Spouse/Domestic Partner and dependent coverage is available.

State Group Life Insurance plan changes announced January 22, are described in the revised booklet:
- The Annual Premium Rate Change for UW employees has been changed from March 1 to April 1.
- References to "spouse" in the revised booklet include a "domestic partner", as defined in Wis. Stats. 40.02(21d), of an employee insured under this life insurance program and for whom the employee has submitted a Affidavit for Domestic Partnership, ET-2371with ETF.
- Active employees who reach age 70 and have Additional coverage no longer need to submit an enrollment form to continue Additional coverage beyond age 70.

With the release of the revised plan booklet, ETF has also updated two forms to reflect the plan changes; Life Insurance Application/Cancellation/Refusal, ET-2304, and Life Insurance Evidence of Insurability, ET-2305.

The 2010 premium table can be found at the State Group Life Insurance Premiums Page.

For more information on domestic partnership provisions, see Domestic Partner Benefits, ET-2370.

Related Link: Wisconsin Public Employers Group Life Insurance Program

Source: Employee Trust Funds

ETF Issues Statement on the Federal Health Insurance Act

The recently-enacted federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) and the health care reconciliation bill (H.R. 4872), which, as of this writing, is being considered by Congress, will make changes to health insurance coverage. The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF), the state agency that administers the state and local group health insurance programs, is currently in the process of reviewing both the Act and the reconciliation bill to determine the impact they will have on the programs administered by ETF. The Act and reconciliation bill contain a substantial amount of language (the Act has nearly 2500 pages). Therefore, we would appreciate your patience as we carefully review the Act and the reconciliation bill in their entirety. We will provide more information about the impact of the Act on the state and local health programs as it becomes available.

Source: Employee Trust Funds

IRS Consumer Alert: Unsolicited Email Warning

The IRS does not send taxpayers unsolicited e-mails about their tax accounts, tax situations or personal tax issues. If you receive such an e-mail, most likely it's a scam.

IRS impersonation schemes flourish during filing season. These schemes may take place via phone, fax, Internet sites, social networking sites, and particularly e-mail.

Many impersonations are identity theft scams that try to trick victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts. Some e-mail scams contain attachments or links that, when clicked, download malicious code (virus) that infects your computer or direct you to a bogus form or site posing as a genuine IRS form or Web site.

Some impersonations may be commercial Internet sites that consumers unknowingly visit, thinking they're accessing the genuine IRS Web site, IRS.gov. However, such sites have no connection to the IRS.

For more information on scams and what to do if you're subject to one, see:
Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS
Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft and How to Report and Identify Phishing
E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites

Source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

ETF Extends Deadline to Remove Health Insurance Adult Child Dependents Age 19-26

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is extending the deadline for State Group Health Insurance subscribers to delete adult child dependents age 19-26. This opportunity is only available if a subscriber wishes to delete a dependent age 19-26, not add a dependent. This is not an opportunity to remove a domestic partner.

The deadline was extended to assist subscribers who currently cover a non-tax dependent age 19-26 on their health insurance, but may want to remove the dependent due to the imputed income tax liability. A subscriber can also delete a tax dependent age 19-26 from their plan during this extension period.

The subscriber must submit a completed Health Insurance Application/Change Form, ET-2301 to their employer to delete an adult child dependent age 19-26. The application must be received by the employee's benefits office on or before March 15, 2010. The coverage end date will be the end of the month following receipt of the application. For applications received in February 2010, the coverage end date for the adult child dependent will be February 28, 2010. For applications received between March 1 and March 15, 2010, the coverage end date is March 31, 2010. There will be no retroactive deletions for these dependents.

COBRA is not available for dependents that are voluntarily cancelled.

Send questions to: benefits@ohr.wisc.edu

Related Links:

Imputed Income and Health Insurance Benefits
ETF - Benefit Eligibility for Adult Children up to Age 27 [Note: broken link removed.]

Source: Employee Trust Funds (ETF)

ETF Releases Revised Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) Booklet

Employee Trust Funds has released the latest edition of the Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) Booklet. The plan, available to all UW employees who enroll and have completed six months of service under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), provides up to 75% of the higher of an employees' previous calendar year earnings, as reported to WRS or a projected salary due to a change in an employees' rate of pay prior to a disability, in the event an employee become disabled. The plan provides a maximum of $4,000 per month for standard ICI coverage and up to $7,500 per month with supplemental coverage.

New 2010 Premium Rates, effective February 1, are based on employees' 2009 average monthly WRS earnings (total earnings rounded to the next higher thousand and divided by 12) and accumulated sick leave (or elimination period for UW Faculty). Premium categories for UW classified employees are based on the employee's accumulated sick leave hours as of the prior year's last complete payroll period. For 2009, this was pay period 26B (December 6, 2009 through December 19, 2009).

The 2010 ICI premium rate charts can be found at: Insurance Premium Pages

Related Link: ETF Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) Page

Source: Employee Trust Funds and UW Service Center

Employee Reimbursement Accounts (ERA) Customer Alert


By now you have received your new myFBMC Visa Payment Card. Please be aware that only 2010 monies have been loaded onto the new card.

If you have a carryover balance in your account from 2009, this balance will not be reflected on your new FBMC card. Reimbursement requests must be submitted to FBMC via paper claim form by April 15. In future plan years, any previous year's balance will be loaded on the FBMC card.

Please be advised that you will be receiving in the mail additional information regarding card usage and instructions for submitting required documentation.


Services received between January 1 and March 15, 2010 may be reimbursed from funds remaining from the 2009 plan year. The deadline for submitting 2009 claims is April 15, 2010. All claims must be received by the Fringe Benefit Management Company or postmarked by April 15 to be reimbursed from 2009 funds.

Questions? Please refer to the myFBMC Payment Card FAQs located at www.myFBMC.com or contact FBMC Customer Service at 1-800-342-8017 (Mon-Fri, 7 am to 10 pm EST).

Related Link: myFBMC General FAQs

Source: Fringe Benefits Management Company (FBMC) and UW-Madison Office of Human Resources

2009 Annual Tax Mailings

Individuals receiving monies paid to them in calendar year 2009 via the payroll system should expect to receive their 2009 annual tax form [W-2, 1042S and/or Fellowship Informational Letter] approximately January 25, 2010. The forms will be mailed to the employee's home address. Employees should always make certain the University has their correct U.S. mailing address. To update your U.S. mailing address, please contact your payroll department.

Source: University of Wisconsin Service Center

ERA Introduces Payment Card for 2010 Medical Reimbursement Program

If you enrolled in the ERA medical reimbursement program for 2010, Fringe Benefit Management Co. (FBMC) you were sent a payment card in the mail from Fringe Benefit Management Co. (FBMC). This is the first year that the payment card is available to use and it is anticipated that 85% of medical claims will be handled with the payment card. Here are some helpful tips:

  • You can choose whether to use the card. If you use it, you must activate it on-line or by phone.
  • When used, the card will be swiped like a credit card. There is no pin number.
  • Remaining 2009 money in a medical account must be claimed with a paper form.
  • When receiving products and services from your health provider or pharmacist that require a Letter of Medical Need, secure the letter and submit it along with your Payment Card claim form or transmittal Sheet and documentation. Although your transaction will be accepted at the point of sale (as long as you have not exceeded your annualized contribution limit), it is deducted from your account and could be subject to payback if your letter and documentation are not submitted.
  • If your provider does not accept your Payment Card, or if your expense is greater than your available balance, pay for your service or purchase by cash, check or credit card. Then submit a paper claim with the appropriate accompanying documentation. Your claim will be processed and eligible expenses will be reimbursed to you by check or through direct deposit.
  • You will receive monthly statements in 2010. In addition to showing the account balance, the statement will indicate whether additional documentation is needed to pay a specific charge. If the documentation is not received by FBMC within 60 days, they will turn the card off . You must then submit paper claim forms.
  • Your eligible dependents can use the Payment Card. For your convenience, FBMC will issue you two cards initially.

Related Link: FBMC, Frequently Asked Questions - Payment Card

Source: University of Wisconsin System Benefits