Assistance Program provides support during times of need

May 07, 2020

The Assistance Program provides need-based grants, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, to support wholeness. Learn about these grant opportunities and review eligibility guidelines to see if you qualify.

During times of need, the Board of Pensions provides tangible support for members and their families through the Assistance Program, the Board’s longstanding ministry of caring for those who serve the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Through this program — which is supported by generous donations, including one-half the Christmas Joy Offering — the Board offers need-based grants that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Each year, the Assistance Program gives out more than 1,000 grants, for a total of more than $5 million. The following grant opportunities are available to active and retired ministers, employees, and their families; eligibility requirements vary by grant.

For all active members

Emergency Assistance.* When unexpected needs arise, Emergency Assistance grants can help active or retired ministers, employees in the Medical Plan or Defined Benefit Pension Plan, or surviving spouses who lack adequate resources. The need could be an extraordinary medical expense, a family emergency, custodial care at home, or any number of special situations. Groups of ministers and employees affected by natural disasters may also qualify. This grant is initiated by a mid council, employer, or other body of the Church, which typically shares with the Assistance Program in the cost. Amounts vary by need.

Adoption Assistance. Adoption Assistance of $3,000 per child helps eligible Medical Plan members pay for a portion of adoption-related expenses.

Transition-to-College Assistance. This one-time grant of up to $1,000 helps eligible families of freshmen entering college with transitional expenses, such as a computer purchase or dorm furnishings.

For ministers in active service

Minister Educational Debt Assistance. The Assistance Program helps ministers in need repay educational debt of up to $25,000 over five years through Minister Educational Debt Assistance. This makes it easier for ministers to accept a wide range of positions and wholly commit their best gifts to ministry.

Sabbath Sabbatical Support. Without Sabbath rest, leading and supporting congregational ministry can cause burnout. Sabbath Sabbatical Support grants provide a portion of the financial support ministers need — up to $3,000 — for a sabbatical for personal and professional renewal.

For retirees

Housing Supplements. Monthly Housing Supplements are provided to eligible retired ministers and employees in need, and their surviving spouses, so they may remain in their own homes or move to retirement facilities in locations of their choice. In addition, one-time help with the entrance fee to a retirement home is available. Supplements are ongoing unless financial circumstances change.

Income Supplements. These supplements raise the monthly income of retired ministers and employees who have served the Church for many years at modest wages, or their surviving spouses, and who are receiving a retirement or survivor’s pension from the Benefits Plan. Supplements run for the duration of recipients’ lives, unless their financial circumstances change.

Retiree Medical Grants. Dental services and hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or the Medicare Supplement Plan — a gap that can cause financial stress. These need-based grants, in amounts up to $2,500, help eligible retirees and their spouses or surviving spouses pay for these otherwise uncovered dental services and/or hearing aids.

*Retirees also have access to Emergency Assistance.

Receiving a grant

If you are a plan member and unsure if you are eligible for assistance, or if you represent a mid council or employer and know of a PC(USA) minister, employee, or survivor with a financial need, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) to discuss how we might help.