New benefits for 2021 Q&As

Q1: Why is the Benefits Plan changing?

The changes to the Benefits Plan for 2021 provide employers with more choices and flexibility to serve more people with benefits that support wholeness.

New disability options and an expanded Term Life Plan provide affordable alternatives to commercial equivalents.    

Minister’s Choice is a new benefits package for ministers that offers important financial protection and expands access to assistance and education programs, such as CREDO and Sabbath Sabbatical Support. Employer cost is 10 percent of effective salary.    

All aspects of the Benefits Plan continue to have the added advantage of the administrative resources and personalized service support from the Board of Pensions as well as reflect the stability brought by generations of careful and thoughtful financial stewardship.

Q2: Who can participate in the new plans available in 2021?

  • Minister’s Choice is available to any minister who normally works at least 20 hours weekly.
  • The new Temporary Disability Plan is automatically included as part of the Pastor’s Participation and Minister’s Choice packages for 2021. The Temporary Disability, Long-Term Disability, and Term Life plans are available to any employee who normally works at least 20 hours weekly.
  • Participation in the Benefits Plan continues to be available to any employee who normally works at least 20 hours weekly. This 20-hour requirement does not apply for participation in the Retirement Savings Plan, Employee Assistance Plan, Dental Plan, or Vision Eyewear Plan.
  • Installed pastors must be enrolled in Pastor’s Participation and are not subject to the 20-hour weekly requirement. 

Q3: How is the Long-Term Disability Plan different from long-term disability coverage in the Death and Disability Plan?

The Long-Term Disability Plan is a separate plan from the Death and Disability Plan. Both plans include coverage for long-term disabilities lasting longer than 90 days, replace 60 percent of income, and are completely employer paid. The key differences between the two plans are as follows:

  • The Long-Term Disability Plan benefit is based on 60 percent of the member’s effective salary, up to $285,000. The Death and Disability Plan benefit is based on the greater of effective salary up to $110,000 or the applicable median.
  • Supplemental disability benefits are not available to participants in the Long-Term Disability Plan because the Long-Term Disability Plan covers salary up to $285,000.
  • The Long-Term Disability Plan provides benefits up to the Social Security normal retirement age (currently age 67 for those born in 1960 and later), not age 65, as under the Death and Disability Plan.
  • The Long-Term Disability Plan may be offered to employees who are not enrolled in the Death and Disability Plan who work at least 20 hours weekly. The Death and Disability Plan is included in Minister’s Choice and Pastor’s Participation, and may be offered to those who work at least 20 hours weekly.

Q4: How is Minister’s Choice different from Pastor’s Participation?

Minister's Choice includes all of the benefits of Pastor's Participation except for medical coverage. However, employers can combine Minister’s Choice with any one of the Medical Plan options as well as other benefits from our Retirement Programs, Health Programs, and Tax-Advantaged Accounts.

Q5: Why is the Board of Pensions offering Minister’s Choice?

The Board recognizes that some ministers may not need the medical coverage offered through Pastor's Participation. Minister's Choice expands access to the unique Financial Protection Programs included in Pastor's Participation to ministers who are scheduled to work at least 20 hours weekly.  

Through Minister’s Choice, employers can provide ministers with Defined Benefit Pension Plan, Death and Disability Plan, Temporary Disability Plan, and Employee Assistance Plan benefits, and access to assistance and education programs, for 10 percent of effective salary. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all ministers have comprehensive financial protection for themselves and their families throughout active service and into retirement.  

Q6: How do Temporary Disability Plan benefits coordinate with workers’ compensation, FMLA, and state-mandated benefits?

If an employee is covered by workers’ compensation, and suffers a work-related illness or injury, the Temporary Disability Plan benefit will be offset by the amount of the workers’ compensation benefit. If an employee is not covered by workers’ compensation, a work-related disability is covered under the Temporary Disability Plan.

Some states have mandated disability programs in place; benefit levels vary by state. For employers in those locations, benefits from the Temporary Disability Plan will be offset by the amount of any state-mandated benefits for which the employee is eligible. If you need help determining how state-mandated coverage will affect your employees enrolled in the Temporary Disability Plan, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

FMLA, which applies only to employers with 50 or more employees, is a job protection benefit primarily, and does not require an employer to pay wages to any employee on leave; if an employee does receive income from sick pay or other leave benefits during FMLA, the temporary disability benefit is offset by the amount of those benefits.

Q7: What are the main features of the Temporary Disability Plan and how does it work?

The Temporary Disability Plan is a separate plan from the Death and Disability Plan and the Long-Term Disability Plan and is automatically included in both Pastor’s Participation and Minister’s Choice. Here are the key features:

  • 14-day waiting period before benefits begin
  • Benefit is 60 percent of effective salary, up to $285,000
  • Provides income replacement for up to 90 days from the date of disability
  • Employer-paid under Minister’s Choice and Pastor’s Participation
  • Employer- or employee-paid for employees not in Minister’s Choice or Pastor’s Participation
  • Evidence of insurability (a health statement) not required
  • Pre-existing conditions not excluded
  • Other benefits coverage through the Board of Pensions continues during disability (For benefits purposes, an employee receiving temporary disability benefits is considered an active employee. The Board will continue to bill the employer for the costs of benefits; the employer is responsible for collecting payment from employees, as appropriate.)      

Q8: How is the Term Life Plan different from the coverage offered in 2020?

In addition to the features currently available in term life coverage, beginning January 1, 2021, employers will be able to offer coverage equal to one times effective salary, up to $50,000. 

Q9: Where can I get more information?

The Board of Pensions is here to help. If you have questions or need assistance, contact us.