Retirement

403(b)

Our 403(b) program has been nationally recognized by Forbes magazine and the Los Angeles Times as a low cost, soundly managed retirement savings option for Wisconsin public school employees.

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The 403(b) is a great way for public employees to save for retirement. It’s similar to the 401(k) offered in the private sector.

Our 403(b) program has been nationally recognized by Forbes magazine and the Los Angeles Times as a low cost, soundly managed retirement savings option for Wisconsin public school employees.

Roth vs Traditional

403(b) contributions can be before-tax or after-tax (Roth) or a combination of the two.

Roth contributions are taxed now, but qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free. When you retire, you owe nothing on years of compounded earnings which may be a significant amount.

Before-tax contributions reduce your taxable income and payment of the taxes is deferred until you withdraw the money. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

What is a Roth 403(b)?

Roth contributions are after-tax, which means you pay taxes now on your contributions, but all qualified* withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free.

This is different from 403(b) contributions that are made on a before-tax basis. Before-tax contributions reduce your taxable income and defer taxes until you withdraw the money.

So the question is, do you want to pay the taxes on your contributions now or when you retire?

*For qualified withdrawals from the Roth 403(b), the participant must be age 59½ or older and have had the account for at least five years.

Roth vs. Traditional 403(b)

  • 403(b) contributions can be before-tax, or Roth (after-tax), or a combination of the two.
  • Roth contributions are taxed now, but qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free. When you retire, you owe nothing on years of compounded earnings—which may be a significant amount.
  • Before-tax (traditional) contributions reduce your taxable income and payment of the taxes is deferred until you withdraw the money. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

What is the benefit of after-tax savings?

One of the greatest benefits of Roth savings is the ability to reduce your tax liability in retirement.

For decades, the assumption has been that most people would be in a lower tax bracket in retirement and thus would benefit from before-tax savings. However, changes in tax policy, including lower tax rates, the taxation of Social Security, and other deductions available under the tax code, increase the chances that you could be in the same or higher tax bracket when you retire.

These changes mean that before-tax savings alone may not be the optimal tax strategy in every situation.

What does this mean to me?

In retirement, Wisconsin public school employees typically have at least three sources of income: the Wisconsin Retirement System, Social Security, and individual retirement savings. All are taxable as ordinary income in retirement. Any tax savings realized today could be more than offset by a higher tax bill in retirement.

How can I start making Roth 403(b) contributions?

WEA Member Benefits offers the Roth feature to its plan sponsors (employers). However, districts are not required to offer the Roth 403(b) feature in their plan, so check with your employer to see if they offer this feature. Current participants whose employer offers the Roth 403(b) need to complete a new Salary Reduction Agreement (SRA) and choose investment allocations for their Roth contributions. If you do not have a 403(b) account with Member Benefits, you will need to complete an enrollment application as well.

Why consolidate your retirement accounts with WEA Member Benefits?

Low cost

Multiple accounts means multiple costs. Excessive costs can eat away at your account balance, leaving you with less money in retirement. With Member Benefits, you enjoy:

  • ONE low administrative cost with an annual fee cap.
    • 403(b) program: Annual administrative costs of 0.35%.
      Annual cap: $500
    • IRA program: Annual administrative cost of 0.45%.
      Annual fee cap: WEAC member = $600 / Non-WEAC member = $750
  • No-load mutual funds.
  • No transfer fees.
  • No surrender penalties or withdrawal charges.

Investment choices

No-load mutual funds, representing all asset classes, and our Prudential Guaranteed Investment (see also Guaranteed Long-Term Fund Fact Sheet) provide the flexibility you need to manage risk and build a diversified portfolio.

Learn more about investment strategies.


Steps to transfer funds to Member Benefits

Follow the steps below to move a retirement account(s) to Member Benefits. You can get personal assistance from one of our Retirement Specialists at any time.

Step 1

Obtain a statement from your existing retirement account. Your account statement needs to indicate what type of retirement account you have (403(b), 401(k), Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 457(b), 401(a), or a different type of qualified plan).

Step 2

Verify you can transfer a retirement account into your existing or new retirement account with Member Benefits by reviewing the IRS rollover chart or by signing up for a consultation with a Member Benefits Retirement Specialist.

Step 3

Call the financial institution that holds your account. Ask them the following questions:

  1. Do they require their own forms for transferring funds to a different company?
  2. Do they require a notary or signature guarantee?
  3. Will they charge you a fee for moving the account to us? Are there any surrender fees that will be charged for moving your account?
  4. What is the address or fax number Member Benefits should send the forms once they are complete?
  5. Does the account need to be liquidated or moved to cash before the rollover request is submitted to them?

Step 4

Choose from one of the following options.

  • Option 1. Call WEA Member Benefits at 1-800-279-4030, Extension 8568. You can speak directly to a Specialist who will walk you through the process for moving your old account to your existing WEA Member Benefits Account. If you don’t have an existing account, we will enroll you into the appropriate account.
  • Option 2. Schedule a meeting with a Member Benefits Retirement Specialist. One of our Specialists will walk you through the process of moving your existing account to your existing or new account with WEA Member Benefits.
  • Option 3. Click the link below to upload your statement and fill in the digital form to begin the process of transferring your outside accounts to Member Benefits.

WEA Member Benefits Exchange/Transfer/Rollover Form


Be sure to consider all of your available options and the applicable fees and features of each option before moving your retirement assets.

See our fees listed below and find out why fees matter and how they impact your current and future savings.

Compare our fees with other providersWEA TSA Trust
Annual administrative fee (capped annually at $500)0.35%
Surrender chargesNone
Sales commissionNone
Mortality and expense (M&E) feeNone
Fees to open, or close accountNone
Inactive account* minimum annual fee$25
Other administrative feesNone

*Inactive accounts are accounts with no contributions within a calendar year.

Mutual fund management and redemption fees apply. See Investment Spectrum.

How can you keep your money working for you in retirement?

yourINCOME PATH™ can help!

yourINCOME PATH is the suite of options and support we offer to help turn your retirement savings account balance into income during retirement.

We offer several income management options to fit your unique goals and needs during retirement. And Member Benefits provides these services at no additional cost.*

Visit the yourINCOME PATH page to read more about the program and review retirement income management strategies, then learn how to get started on your own income strategy.

Member Benefits is here for you to and through retirement.

Learn more about yourINCOME PATH

 

*If you choose to invest in the WEA Tax Sheltered Annuity or WEA Member Benefits IRA program, fees will apply. Consider all expenses before investing.

Because we are a member organization, our 403(b) program is designed with unique qualities that set us apart from other commercial providers.

Low fees

One low annual administrative fee with an annual fee cap, keeps more of your money working for you.

  • Low annual administrative fee of 0.35%. Annual fee cap of $500.
  • No-load mutual funds
  • No transfer fees
  • No surrender penalties or withdrawal charges

*Minimum annual fee of $25 for inactive accounts. Inactive accounts are accounts with no contributions within a calendar year.

More about our 403(b) fees.

Member focused

  • We operate as a trust which reinvests any profits back into programs that benefit participants.
  • We exclusively serve Wisconsin public education employees.
  • No commissions are paid to Member Benefits staff.
  • We have no shareholders.

Investment choices

No-load mutual funds, representing all asset classes, and our Prudential Guaranteed Investment provide the flexibility you need to manage risk and build a diversified portfolio.

See more about investment strategies.

Personal service and consultations

When you call us, you will talk to a live person. Our experienced consultants will take the time to help you develop a plan that is right for you. Schedule a personal phone consultation at a time convenient for you.

Access 24/7

Access your account online.