By Allison Trussell
GREENVILLE—The Rev. Chris Lollis, Conference Pension and Health Benefits Officer, and Valerie Brooks-Madden, chairperson, presented the Board of Pension and Health Benefits report June 5.
There were very few changes for both the pension and health insurance plans.
Lollis said there was a 2 percent increase in the rate for annuity payments to retired ministers. The rate was $797 in 2019, and the recommendation is $813 per service year for 2020. There was no increase in the defined benefit portion of the Clergy Retirement Security Program; it remains at $497. Lollis encouraged churches to adopt 3/9 split for part-time clergy pensions. With that split, the clergy would put in 3 percent of his/her salary and the church would put in 9 percent toward the clergy’s salary. These recommendations were adopted with no discussion.
The conference will continue with the current HealthFlex exchange, which allows a number of levels of insurance as well as dental and vision coverage. Lollis said there was a slight change to one of the dental options. All churches with eligible appointed clergy will be billed $1,063 per month or $12,746 per year, a slight increase over 2019. Monthly premiums range from $771 to $2,716 depending on the plan and tier chosen. Lollis reminded the body that annual elections are held each year in October and November. He said while the current election will remain if no new election is made, the reimbursement accounts will not carry over if no new election is made.
A handout, “2020 Comprehensive Benefit Funding Plan,” was distributed by the tellers. The plan incorporates the plan sponsor’s obligations and funding of the benefits provided to clergy and laity.
Lollis and Brooks-Madden said a variety of training and learning events are scheduled for the fall, and they encouraged people to participate and said that limited grants were available.
Harold Murray, a lay delegate from Francis Burns UMC, Columbia, asked about Medicare funding benefits for retired pastors and whether the conference had looked at insurance marketplaces provided by the Affordable Care Act. Lollis noted clergy would need to be eligible for Medicare A and B and that the conference offers a subsidy to defray costs. Amwins provides a variety of insurance choices for retirees and the subsidy would still be in effect.
The reports were unanimously approved by the body.