The Board of Pensions provides support and resources to help you guide churches and other
PC(USA)-affiliated employers, as well as employees, in determining Benefits Plan eligibility, and in selecting and electing benefits.
Churches must provide installed pastors with coverage under Pastor’s Participation to meet the requirements of Section G-2.0804 of the Book of Order, which states the following:
The call shall include participation in the benefits plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including both pension and medical coverage, or any successor plan approved by the General Assembly.
Churches and other employers may choose to provide Pastor’s Participation to other teaching elders who are regularly scheduled to work at least 20 hours a week, or offer them coverage under menu options. Other employees are eligible for menu options only.
Teaching elders who are in church-validated ministries may participate in Pastor’s Participation, if scheduled to work at least 20 hours a week, or in menu options. In this situation, the teaching elder acts as both employer and employee for enrollment purposes.
Under A Formula of Agreement, ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Reformed Church in America, and United Church of Christ are treated as teaching elders under the Benefits Plan. Ministers of other denominations who are scheduled to work at least 20 hours a week for a PC-affiliated employer are eligible to participate in the plan but as other employees, not teaching elders.
Each year, employers must submit an Employer Agreement through Benefits Connect, the Board’s benefits website, accessible from the pensions.org home page or directly at pensions.org/benefitsconnect. In the Agreement, they
- assign each employee eligible for the Benefits Plan to a benefit group; and
- select benefits to offer each benefit group and employee contribution requirements (where permitted).
During annual enrollment, generally in the fall, employees enroll through Benefits Connect, electing benefits from those the employer makes available to their benefit group. Everyone in the same benefit group must be offered the same benefits.
There are three time periods during which an employee may enroll for, or change, coverage:
- within 30 days of starting employment or an initial benefits waiting period set by the employer (up to 90 days and not exceeding any limit established by law)
- during annual enrollment, usually in the fall
- within 60 days of a qualifying life event, such as a marriage or birth of a child
Cost of Coverage
Coverage costs are determined differently for Pastor’s Participation and menu options.
Under Pastor’s Participation, employers
- contribute 100 percent of the dues for medical coverage in the PPO (preferred provider organization), Pension Plan participation, and Death and Disability Plan coverage;
- offer participation in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), the Dental Plan, supplemental death coverage, and supplemental disability coverage (if eligible);
- may contribute to an employee’s RSP (employee contributions are also voluntary); and
- may require employee contributions for dental and/or supplemental death and disability coverage.
Dues are based on a percentage of effective salary, or the minimum dues rate, whichever is greater, and not more than the maximum dues rate.
Under menu options, employers select benefits to offer employees from the following:
- Pension Plan
- Death and Disability Plan
- medical coverage in the PPO and/or EPO (exclusive provider organization)
- Dental Plan
- supplemental death coverage
- supplemental disability coverage
If employers provide pension and/or death and disability coverage, they must contribute 100 percent of the dues, based on effective salary; employees may not contribute to this coverage.
Under menu options, employers are responsible for paying at least 50 percent of the Member-only cost in the lowest-priced medical coverage they offer, regardless of the coverage the employer selects. So, if an employer offers both PPO and EPO, the employer would be responsible for paying a minimum of 50 percent of the cost of Member-only coverage in the EPO. Employees may be asked to pay up to 100 percent of coverage for family members.
If they offer dental, supplemental death, and/or supplemental disability coverage, employers may choose to contribute toward the cost of coverage, which is based on coverage level.
Employees may contribute to the RSP, if offered, and employers may choose to contribute to the RSP on an employee’s behalf through fixed or matching contributions, or both.
Seminary students who meet a school’s full-time enrollment criteria and are inquirers or candidates under presbytery care may participate in the Medical Plan. The Committee on Preparation for Ministry or another presbytery committee responsible for seminary students should inform students of their eligibility. To enroll in the Medical Plan, the student must
- complete and return the Seminary Student Benefits Plan Membership Application to the Board of Pensions within the annual enrollment period of August 1 to September 30;*
- provide written confirmation of inquirer or candidate status from an authorized representative of the presbytery;
- provide seminary confirmation of full-time student status; and
- send payment for the first month’s coverage to the Board of Pensions.
If a student was not classified as an inquirer or candidate during the annual enrollment, the student can enroll within 60 days of receiving the change in status. A student may also enroll in the Medical Plan if his or her spouse loses coverage; enrollment must be within 60 days of losing coverage.
*If a student first enrolls at the seminary during spring semester, he or she has 60 days from the date the semester begins to enroll for the Medical Plan.