Domestic Partner Benefits
Last revised October 10, 2017
The law that provided members and their domestic partners certain benefits when the member registered the domestic partnership has been changed by 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, which was signed into law as part of the 2017-2019 state biennial budget on September 21. The following explains how the law change affects members and their domestic partners.
Some previous benefits, including health insurance, will no longer be available to domestic partners as of January 1, 2018. See below for information about how this law impacts benefits administered by ETF. Note the effective dates of the changes. For additional details about benefit changes, please contact your employer’s payroll or benefits office (or ETF if you are retired).
If a member wants to to end this partnership, or if the member and domestic partner have married, submit to ETF an Affidavit of Termination of Domestic Partnership (ET-2372) available online at etf.wi.gov or by contacting ETF. This will terminate the domestic partnership for all purposes with ETF; there is no partial termination of a domestic partnership.
Health Insurance Coverage
Group health insurance coverage for a member's domestic partner and partner’s dependent children (who are not also the member's dependent children) will end at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2017. The domestic partner and partner’s dependent children will receive a COBRA opportunity to continue existing health insurance coverage for 36 months, provided the partner enrolls and pays the full monthly premium. The member's employer (or ETF, if retired) will send the COBRA information to the partner. If the member should pass away prior to January 1, 2018, the domestic partner may continue health insurance coverage if covered by the state group health plan at the time of the member's death.
Wisconsin Retirement System Benefits
The member's current Wisconsin Retirement System benefits—specifically the member's WRS death benefits, and WRS joint and survivor annuities—will not change.
- WRS death benefits are always paid per the most recent, valid beneficiary designation on file with ETF prior to the member's death. If a beneficiary designation is not on file, death benefits will be paid to the registered, surviving domestic partner according to standard sequence. Beneficiary information does not automatically change when a life event occurs, such as a marriage or a domestic partnership termination. Be sure to keep beneficiary information filed with ETF up to date.
- A WRS joint and survivor annuity will still be paid to the member's domestic partner if the domestic partnership has been registered with ETF for at least one year at the time the member begins their annuity.
Sick Leave Credit Programs
If the member is a state employee, the member's domestic partner and partner’s dependent children may not use the member's accumulated sick leave credits if the member passes away on or after January 1, 2018. If the member passes away prior to January 1, 2018, the domestic partner and partner’s dependent children may use accumulated sick leave credits, if they were covered on the member's group health insurance on the member's date of death. For more details, see the Sick Leave Credit Conversion Program (ET-4132) brochure, available online or by contacting ETF. Local government employees should contact their employer about sick leave benefits.
Spouse and dependent coverage for the member's domestic partner and partner’s dependent children (who are not also the member's dependent children) will end at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2017. If the member has no other eligible dependents, the member will need to cancel spouse and dependent coverage by submitting a Life Insurance Application/Cancellation/Refusal (ET-2304) form to their employer. If the member has other eligible dependents, the member may maintain this coverage. This form is available online or from the member's employer.
Conversion to an individual policy is available for a member's domestic partner and/or dependent children by submitting a Conversion of Group Life Insurance Enrollment (ET-2306) form to Securian by January 31, 2018.
The member's life insurance death benefit will be paid according to the most recent, valid beneficiary designation on file prior to the member's death. If a beneficiary designation is not on file, death benefits will be paid to the registered, surviving domestic partner according to standard sequence.
Duty Disability Death Benefits
If the member is currently receiving a duty disability benefit and the domestic partnership was registered with ETF before the duty disability qualifying date, the domestic partner’s eligibility for a death benefit will not change.
If the member is a protective occupation employee and qualifies for a duty disability benefit before January 1, 2018, the domestic partner may be eligible for a death benefit if the domestic partnership was registered before the duty disability qualifying date. Act 59 also specifies that if the domestic partnership was registered before the member qualified for duty disability, and the member and partner subsequently marry, the partner’s eligibility for a duty disability death benefit will be maintained as the spouse.
Duty disability death benefits will not be payable to the domestic partner if the member qualifies for duty disability on or after January 1, 2018.
Supplemental Benefits Insurance Coverage
Supplemental benefits coverage for the member's domestic partner and partner’s dependent children (who are not also the member's children) will end at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2017. This includes supplemental benefit plans administered by Anthem DentalBlue, Zurich (accidental death and dismemberment), EPIC Benefits+, EPIC Dental WI and VSP. The domestic partner will receive continuation (COBRA) coverage information.
Wisconsin Deferred Compensation
If order for the domestic partner to receive the member's Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) account after the member's death, the member must file a beneficiary designation listing the domestic partner with Empower Wisconsin. Without a beneficiary designation on file, domestic partners will no longer receive the member's account after death, because Act 59 specifies partners are not included under standard sequence for the WDC for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2018. Visit www.wdc457.org to learn how to file a beneficiary designation.
The WDC will no longer be able to accept a domestic relations order (DRO) allocating a part of a member’s account to a domestic partner after January 1, 2018. If a member terminates their domestic partnership, the former partner cannot be allocated a part of the member's account through a DRO.
Long-Term Care Coverage
The member's domestic partner will no longer be able to participate in the ETF-associated long-term care insurance after 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2017. Domestic partners will be contacted by HealthChoice with options on how to transition to an individual long-term care policy.
Employee Reimbursement and Health Savings Account Funds
Per IRS regulations, if the member's domestic partner and/or and your partner’s dependent children are the member's legal tax dependents, then the member can continue use their Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA) and/or Health Savings Account (HSA) funds to pay for eligible expenses.
Please contact your employer’s payroll or benefits office, or ETF with questions.
Please note: Recent law changes since the last revision to this content may mean that some information is no longer accurate. ETF will be updating information as soon as possible. The law that provided domestic partner benefits has been changed by 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, which was signed into law as part of the 2017-2019 state biennial budget on September 21, 2017. You can find more information on the changes here.
Please Refer to the Following Domestic Partner Benefits Materials
for More Information:
Domestic Partner Benefits brochure (ET-2166)
Affidavit of Termination of Domestic Partnership
Beneficiary Designation form (ET-2320)