Business as usual during Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits Report
May 31, 2018 / By Kathleen Christiansen
The Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits presented their report Thursday at the 2018 Annual Conference Session at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse.
The board’s Chair, the Rev. Mary Rublee, started by acknowledging the board members.
“The board is made up of dedicated and active individuals,” she said.
According to Rev. Rublee, the board is responsible for management of a sustainable health insurance program and practices; development of policies and procedures to ensure the financial health of the pension and health plans; and investment of benefit funds to sustain current and future obligations.
As a result of the board’s analysis of direct bill arrearages, a one-time forgiveness of unpaid direct billing amounts owed for 2014 and prior by churches was approved and executed in October 2017. The board is in the process of developing arrearage policies and procedures.
There’s also an ongoing investigation of future health care plans that will serve the needs of those covered while balancing the issues of equitable funding from all parties.
Due to personal resources and priorities (i.e. finalizing asset fund allocations from previous conferences), the recommendations previously approved by the 2017 UNY Annual Conference session related to investment screenings and investment account recommendations has been referred to an Investment sub-committee of the Board.
And, monitoring recommendations by the Council of Bishops Commission on the Way Forward Task Force, and pending decision of the General Conference in 2019, the board is in active/on-going discussions with Wespath Benefits & Investments to ensure that benefits remain secure.
Rev. Rublee then shared 2019 benefit rates for local churches and the personal 2019 benefit rates for active clergy or full-time laity employees. For more comprehensive information on the benefit plan, view the UNY Comprehensive Benefit Funding Plan.
Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits presented their recommendations. The first would set the 2019 Past Service Annuity Rate for Pension payments to retired Clergy with pre-1982 service at $645 per qualified service year prior to 1982, which is an increase of 1.1 percent over 2018 in recognition of the active clergy salary increases of less than 2 percent over the last two years and as a way to begin to address the unfunded liability in this pension plan.
“The plan went from fully funded to underfunded as a result of the effects of using an updated mortality table. Additionally, we are in a season of a high numbers of retirements,” Rev. Rublee said. “This illustrates that being 100 percent funded is not sufficient, and we need to strive to be more than fully funded to weather actuarial fluctuations and market volatility.
Rev. Rublee moved for acceptance of the recommendation. It was voted upon and accepted.
The board’s second recommendation comes each year as required by the IRS and the General Church: the Housing/Rental Allowance Resolution, which allows retired and disabled clergy to claim their church pension, severance, or disability income as a housing exclusion.
Rev. Rublee moved for acceptance of the second recommendation. It was voted upon and accepted.