Board of Pension & Health Benefits report presented and two recommendations carried at AC2023
The Rev. Sara Baron presented the Board of Pension & Health Benefits report during the June 2 afternoon plenary at the Upper New York (UNY) Annual Conference. She spoke of the increasing cost of healthcare. She said, “Moving into 2023, there was an increase in cost of 12 percent. That is a concerning amount, one that we did not think either churches or participants could absorb. The increased cost to churches was 3 percent, which is $400 over the course of the year. The increased cost to participants was 3 percent on average. The remaining 6 percent of increased costs were absorbed by the Board.”
Rev. Baron then announced that the Board has been informed that the increase in healthcare costs will be 14 percent for 2024. “The good news, Rev. Baron said, “is that the Board can absorb some of the cost again, 5 percent in this case.”
As for Retiree Health Reimbursement Accounts, there is no change and no proposed changes for the future.
Rev. Baron reviewed pension and protection for the UNY clergy, including Wespath’s Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP), the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP), and the Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP).
CPP offers death benefits, long-term disability income replacement, and other survivor benefits remain the same at 3 percent; UMPIP is available to clergy with 50-74 percent appointments, and that remained the same at 9 percent; and CRSP is available to clergy who have 75-100 percent appointments remained the same at 13.8 percent.
Rev. Baron mentioned that questions frequently arise about how pension impacts those who disaffiliate. She said, “Any active clergy who leaves The United Methodist Church will have their pension funds transferred from the current accounts into their UMPIP via actuarial calculations by Wespath.” She added, “An active or retired clergy person who leaves The United Methodist Church will not receive a retiree reimbursement account nor will they be eligible for retiree medical benefits.”
Rev. Baron then discussed legislation of a new plan, called Compass, that is being presented at the 2024 General Conference. She said if this legislation passes, it would eliminate CRSP and be replaced with Compass, which is entirely based on defined contributions. She reminded the Conference that this is just PROPOSED.
After presenting the Board of Pension & Health Benefits Report, Rev. Baron presented two recommendations that the Board had.
The first recommendation from the Board of Pension & Health Benefits is found in the 2023 Annual Conference Pre-Conferece Workbook on page 19.
This recommendation from this Board comes each year as required by the IRS and the General Church. It’s the Housing/Rental Allowance Resolution. This resolution allows retired and disabled clergy to claim their church pension, severance, or disability income as a housing exclusion.
This recommendation carried.
Rev. Baron then presented the second recommendation; she said, “Our second and final recommendation is for an increase to the Pre-82 Past Service Annuity Rate. We are recommending a 5% increase to the Past Service rate, which would move it from $658 to $691. The Past Service Rate can only go up, it can never go down, and it applies only to service to the church before 1982. This is also found on page 20 of the Pre-Conference Workbook.”
This recommendation carried.
The entire Board of Pensions and Health Benefits Report can be found on pages 65-68 of the Pre-Conference Workbook.