August 20 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

Since we began sending you these weekly updates in March, our goal has been to keep you informed about your benefits, available programs, and process changes while assuring you that all Pension Boards' business operations are moving forward as they were before the start of the pandemic.

You have heard from us. Now, we want to hear from you!

You may recall having seen a link in last week's update to a quick, two-question survey about your questions and any topics you would like to learn more about. Thank you to those who responded. We are listening!

One reader asked for more information about our investments in green bonds, which are part of a multi-faced approach to sustainable investing created by the Pension Boards’ Fixed-Income Team that:

1. Embraces the United Church of Christ’s 3 Great Loves initiative;
2. Follows the Pension Boards’ Faith and Finance Policy;
3. Adheres to Green and Social Bond Principles; and
4. Incorporates the framework created by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Each of the above influences Pension Boards’ choices when investing in sustainable bonds - investment opportunities specifically created to raise money for "green" and "social" projects. The Pension Boards invests in these bonds on behalf of its members. The team’s approach to sustainable bond investment is thematic and it has developed four themes by which to broadly categorize green and social bonds. These themes encompass the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Basic Needs includes the goals of no hunger, good health, quality education, clean water, and sanitation. Healthy Planet includes clean energy, as well as responsible production and consumption. Sustainable Society targets decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, and climate action. Finally, Equality and Opportunity focuses on the goals of no poverty, gender equality, and reduced inequalities.

Examples of Pension Boards sustainable bond investments include:

African Development Bank’s objective is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries – to contribute to poverty reduction. Pension Boards is invested in AfDB’s “Fight COVID-19 Social Bond” which supports African communities to help curb the spread of the virus and overcome the many challenges caused by the outbreak.

International Bank for Reconstruction & Development is the lending arm of the World Bank. It offers loans to developing countries to fund projects that seek to improve access to food, clean drinking water, and improved sanitation as well as to transportation and infrastructure, healthcare and education. IBRD supports efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Starbucks Corporation has implemented a significant sustainability program and is committed to buying coffee from farmers and third-party suppliers who are improving working conditions for their employees. Ninety-nine percent of its coffee is purchased ethically from 400,000 farmers in 28 countries. The Starbucks Foundation has donated more than $3 million to global Covid-19 relief efforts.

PepsiCo has a new target to reduce 35% of virgin plastic content across its beverage portfolio by 2025. Its green bond will fund projects that purchase compostable, biodegradable, and/or recyclable material for use in product packaging.

We will continue to address your suggested topics and provide the information you need to serve more effectively in your ministry setting. If you have not already done so, please click on the survey link below and let us know how we can better serve you in these weekly messages.

For the past several months, we have encouraged all UCC employers and self-paying members who are not already doing so to use the Online Payment Portals. As we move toward implementation of a new accounting platform later this year, online payment is the new standard for paying benefits invoices. Paying invoices online is secure and ensures that payments are credited to accounts in real time. If you are not yet enrolled, please see the article Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers, to get started today.

Please contact us by phone at 1.800.642.6543 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions. For the latest information, check our COVID-19 web page.

Be well, and stay safe.

Best regards,

Brian R. Bodager
President/CEO

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READER SURVEY: WHAT TOPICS DO YOU WANT TO SEE?



Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers

Online payment is the New Standard for the Pension Boards. Please transition your monthly payment to our online portals today!

PLEASE NOTE: The online bill payment site will be down for routine maintenance starting Friday, September 4 at 8:00 am through Tuesday, September 8 at noon. The October monthly invoices will be available when the portal is back up on Tuesday, September 8.


Employers

If you have not already set up an employer account on our website, click here to register for online bill payment. Select the New User link to register. You will need to have a valid email address on file with the Pension Boards. If we do not have a valid email address, please contact our Member Services team at 1.800.642.6543. If a valid email address is on file, follow the steps to set up your account and create a password. Once registered, follow the steps below to pay your invoice:

  • Log into the website at https://employers.pbucc.org/.
  • Select Billing, and then select View/Pay Bill to review your list of employees and invoice amounts.
  • If you agree with the total amount displayed, select Pay Now to pay your invoice.
  • Follow the prompts on the screen to set up your payments.

Members

Log into www.pbucc.org and sign in to your account.

  • Click on Pay My Benefit Bill on the Benefit Selection page.
  • Select Pay Bill on the left-hand side of the page.

If you are unable to make your monthly payment online, it is essential that you include the remittance section from your invoice or include your Statement Number on the check, and to mail your check to: Pension Boards-UCC, 75 Remittance Drive, Suite 1592, Chicago, IL 60675-1592.

Please do not send checks for Annuity Plan pension contributions and Health Plan premiums to the Pension Boards at 475 Riverside Drive. Not mailing your check to our bank’s Chicago address, or not including your remittance slip or including your Member ID on the check will result in delays on posting payments to your account.



Salary Report Update

As the Pension Boards transitions to a paperless environment and adapts to working remotely, we are converting to an online process for UCC churches and employers to update their employees’ salaries and pension contribution amounts. We will no longer send out the annual Salary Report to employers by mail in October. Now, you may sign in to your account on the employer portal (https://employers.pbucc.org/index.php/login-com) and once logged in, select Salary Report/Update from the left-hand side of the page to make changes as soon as they occur. This will ensure that changes are made timely, and that your monthly invoices will reflect the updated information as changes occur.

If an paper form is needed, you may download and print a Salary Report Form from the Pension Boards website.

Should you have any questions, please reach out to our Member Services team at 1.800.642.6543 for assistance.



Annuity Plan Account Distributions: Non-Annuitized Members with Balances Under $10,000

The Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ plan document (section 4.06(a)) states that members who have not been active in the Plan for more than three months and who have a balance of less than $10,000 will receive a distribution of the entire account balance.

Starting this month, the Pension Boards United-Church of Christ will cash out the accounts of non-annuitized Annuity Plan members who are no longer working for a United Church of Christ (UCC) employer, Conference, Association, National Setting, or any UCC-affiliated organization, and for whom contributions are no longer being made to their Annuity Plan accounts. Distributions do not apply to annuitized members who rolled over a portion of their accumulation balances to a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) at the time of annuitization.

The distribution will be paid by our bank, The Northern Trust Company.

Members who qualify for the distribution:

  • have accumulation accounts that have not been annuitized (RSA accounts do not apply);
  • have less than $10,000 in their accumulation accounts;
  • are inactive;
  • have not been employed for three months or longer; and
  • are no longer contributing to the Annuity Plan.

You may view your vested account balance by logging into the PBUCC website member login portal, and signing into your account using your seven-digit Pension Boards Member ID number and password. If you have not yet created your online account, please follow the instructions on the member login portal.

For additional information or questions, please contact the Pension Boards Member Services at 1.800.642.6543 and follow the prompt for Member Services.



COVID-Related Hardship Withdrawals

Under the CARES Act, non-annuitized members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 (as defined in the Act) are eligible to take hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts. The following provisions apply for members of the Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ:

  • Members may request hardship withdrawals only from their personal employee pre-tax contributions (also known as contributions to the tax-sheltered annuity or TSA) or personal after-tax contributions or rollover contributions. Withdrawals may not be made from employer contributions.
  • Members may withdraw up to 50% of their account balances, with a maximum of $100,000.

Members who qualify for a withdrawal under these provisions may initiate a hardship withdrawal by logging into the PBUCC website member login portal. Once you have logged in, select the link at the top of the page next to Select a CARES Act Withdrawal and follow the instructions provided. Should you have any questions, you may contact our Member Services team for more information at 1.800.642.6543 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/ Rx Coming January 1, 2021 – Quick Links

Watch for more details by postal mail and email in the coming weeks.

Watch for more details by postal mail and email in the coming weeks.



Generations Financial Resources: A New Service for MFVI Participants

Generations Financial Resources, Inc., a controlled subsidiary of the Pension Boards, is a lending corporation to help alleviate the crushing burden of clergy indebtedness. Operating in coordination with the Minister’s Financial Vitality Initiative launched by the Pension Boards in 2017, it will combine personal finance education, needs-based grants to reduce debt levels, and most significantly, low-interest rate refinancing to substantially reduce the rates that our clergy are paying on their educational debt.

If you are not yet in the MFVI program, we encourage you to apply and become eligible for Generations Financial Resources. Applications are available on our website. There are two options:

For more information, watch this video, download this informational flyer, and contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



No-Cost Financial Planning Services

Financial wellness is important at all stages of your life and ministry. To help you achieve your financial goals and better manage your overall finances, the Pension Boards offers EY Financial Planning Services at no cost to Annuity Plan members (actively-contributing, inactive, and annuitized). Call the EY Navigate Financial Planner Line at 1.877.927.1047 or visit pbucc.eynavigate.com to learn more and get started.



Emergency Grants from the Christmas Fund

helping hand

If you are experiencing a critical situation and need financial assistance, you may be eligible for an Emergency Grant from the Christmas Fund if you are:

  • a currently Authorized Minister in the United Church of Christ;
  • a lay employee of a UCC congregation, Association, Conference, or National Setting with a minimum of 10 years of service;
  • a surviving spouse/partner of the above; or a
  • a Member in Discernment for at least a year.

If you meet the eligibility criteria described above, please contact your Conference staff, who will then reach out to Ministerial Assistance to begin the process. UCBMA can respond to the increasing requests for assistance because of the generosity of individuals and congregations to the Christmas Fund.



Member Services

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Our full Member Services staff team is available as before to take your calls and answer any questions you may have. They may be reached at 1.800.642.6543 as well as on the online chat function on our website.

During this time, please remember that you can fax or email documents and forms to us at 212.729.2701 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., respectively, avoiding delays that may occur with postal mail.


Stay informed. Visit the Pension Boards’ website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.