November 13 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you from the Pension Boards. Each November, our Board of Trustees and its Committees—along with the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance—hold governance meetings in an offsite location. With the ongoing pandemic, our usual schedule of meetings has changed, and last week and this week we have been conducting business virtually via Zoom. Please look for updates on Board actions in upcoming weekly messages.

November is open enrollment month for two Pension Boards benefit plans—Optional/ Additional Life Insurance and the Flexible Benefit Plan. Current participants in the UCC Life Insurance and Disability Income Benefit Plan have an opportunity to purchase additional coverage for themselves and their eligible dependents, at attractive group rates. The Flexible Benefit Plan for UCC Ministries—also known as a flexible spending account or FSA—allows employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax salary to help pay for qualifying health and dependent care expenses. Please read the article directly below for more information.

In recent weeks, we have discussed the advantages of saving for retirement through the Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ, using the PORTAL acronym, shown below.

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This week, our focus is on the T in PORTAL—the Transition to retirement.

If you are a Pension Boards member transitioning to retirement, it is important to understand the two lifetime income annuity options available to you: the Basic Annuity and the Participating Annuity. These two annuity options are available to you at the time you elect to convert the monies you have accumulated over your career to a steady stream of lifetime monthly income for yourself and for a joint survivor you select.

  • The Basic Annuity is the more secure and steady annuity option, with benefits that are expected to remain relatively constant though retirement.
  • The Participating Annuity is a more growth-oriented lifetime income annuity option. This investment allocation creates more opportunity for growth of future monthly benefits. However, there is also more risk from year to year as it is mostly comprised of global stocks, bonds, and other assets.

To learn more about the Basic and Participating Annuity, watch our special Fireside Chat with Pension Counselor Anna Blandino here.

When you are ready to transition to retirement, we encourage you to speak with one of our dedicated Pension Counselors. Through individualized and scheduled consultation sessions, Pension Counselors provide members with personalized retirement income projections; review their Annuity Plan options, including tax-deferred choices such as rolling over a portion of their accumulation balances to a Retirement Savings Account (RSA); and provide housing allowance information for ministers who may be transitioning from full-time to part-time church service or to another vocational call. We also encourage you to consult with your personal financial advisor or an Ernst & Young financial planner before making decisions about retirement.

Once you have made your decision between the Basic and Participating annuity, you are now ready to enjoy monthly income payments for life!

We hope these weekly discussions of the Pension Boards’ Annuity Plan PORTAL have helped you set a clearer path to Plan for your financial future and invest, Optimize Retirement outcomes, Transition from work or ministry into retirement, and secure Annuity income for Life. The Pension Boards is here for you—throughout your life, ministry career, and well after you have retired to provide you with the services you need. Contact us at 1.800.642.6543 to get started!

Be well, and stay safe.

Best regards,

Brian R. Bodager
President/Chief Executive Officer


November Enrollments: FSA and Life Insurance

Optional Additional Life Insurance for LIDI Participants and Dependents

If you are a participant in the Basic UCC Insurance and Disability (LIDI) Plan, you are eligible to elect additional life insurance coverage for yourself and your dependents for 2021. Open enrollment for additional life insurance is currently available through November 30, 2020. To learn more, view the 2021 LIDI Plan Highlights booklet and view Frequently Asked Questions here.

Flexible Benefits Plan for UCC Ministries (FSA)

Enrollment for the Flexible Benefit Plan for UCC Ministries, also referred to as Flexible Spending Account or FSA, has been extended and now will be available through December 4, 2020.

Maximum amount of income that may deposited in the FSA in 2021 for dependent care Maximum amount of income that may be deposited in the FSA in 2021 for medical care Maximum amount that may be carried over for use in calendar year 2022 Last date to submit expenses for reimbursement for incurrals in calendar year 2021
$2,750 $5,000 $550* March 31, 2022

*Unused amounts greater than $550 are automatically forfeited.

When must I apply?

Applications must be signed by you and your employer and postmarked no later than December 4, 2020.

The FSA Plan will continue to be administered by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Plan participants may access account information and file claims by logging in at www.highmarkbcbs.com and clicking on the Spending & Claims tab.

To re-enroll in the Plan for 2021, please download, complete and sign the 2021 Election and Compensation Reduction Agreement Form, and submit it to your employer. Your employer must sign the form, keep a copy for their records, and mail the signed original form to the Pension Boards postmarked no later than December 4, 2020. To expedite the enrollment process, your employer may fax the form to 212.729.2701, then mail in the original.

Not Enrolled?

Churches and other employers that have not previously participated in the FSA can easily get started by submitting a resolution stating their desire to join the plan along with a onetime start-up fee. Get started today!

The FSA also allows clergy and lay employees to keep more of what they earn. Learn more here.

Your payroll processor should adjust salary records to ensure that the appropriate reductions are made in your 2021 pay, based on your elections. FSA contributions are billed to employers on a monthly basis and payment is due on the 15th of the month following the month FSA dollars are withheld from salary. In accordance with Plan rules, only expenses incurred up to the date the employee stopped contributions to the Plan (due to termination/retirement/qualified change in status) are eligible for reimbursement.


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READER SURVEY: WHAT TOPICS DO YOU WANT TO SEE?



GENERATIONS: A JOURNAL OF FAITH AND FINANCE COMING IN NOVEMBER!

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The first issue of a new Pension Boards online publication, Generations: A Journal of Faith and Finance, addresses a variety of current issues related to the places in our personal and corporate economic lives where the values of faith intersect with our financial obligations and opportunities. The inaugural issue is themed: “Mobilizing Resources for Change.”


“For Such a Time as This”

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Gifts to the Christmas Fund in 2020 are needed now more than ever. Because of your past generosity, we’ve been able to respond to a record number of requests for emergency financial assistance from UCC clergy whose employment has been impacted by the pandemic. And we continue to supplement small pensions, help with the cost of medical insurance, and meet emergency needs faced by our retired and active UCC clergy and church lay workers. Your gift of any amount is urgently needed and sincerely appreciated. Please donate today.

In addition to your individual support, if you’re helping a church receive the Christmas Fund offering this year, please note that bulletin inserts, worship resources and more are now online only at www.christmasfund.org. Offering envelopes may be ordered at www.uccresources.com. Thank you for supporting the Christmas Fund!


Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers: Getting Started

The online bill payment site will be down for routine maintenance starting Thursday, November 5 at 6:00 pm through Monday, November 9 at noon. The December monthly invoices will be available when the portal is back up on Monday, November 9.

Online payment is the New Standard for the Pension Boards. Please transition your monthly payment to our online portals today! If you are not already using the portals, it’s quick and easy to get started and transactions are secure. Click here for detailed instructions to set up your account. Your account, including any outstanding balances, and employee salary information, must be up-to-date before you use online bill payment for the first time.

Employers: Click here for a new, updated User Guide for online bill pay.


Target Annuitization Date (TAD) Fund 2020 Closing December 31

The Target Annuitization Date (TAD) Fund 2020 will close in December of this year. In anticipation of the closing of the TAD Fund 2020, you will need to select one of the two options below.

  • Annuitize your account: Please notify Member Services no later than October 31, 2020.
  • Select a replacement fund for the TAD Fund 2020: Please notify Member Services no later than 12:00 p.m. on November 30, 2020.
  • Any balance remaining in your TAD Fund 2020 on December 31 will automatically be moved to the Stable Value Fund.

If you have any questions, or need help, please reach out to our Member Services team at 1.800.642.6543.


UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/ Rx: Update

The new UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/ Rx will replace the current UCC Medicare Supplement Plan with Rx, administered by Humana, on January 1, 2021.

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Information Packets

Humana Benefit Kit packets to current participants in the current UCC Medicare Plan have been sent out, and you may have already received yours in the mail. You may also view the Humana Benefit Kit here.



Humana Informational Webinar

Earlier this week, the Pension Boards and Humana hosted a series of informational webinars about the new plan. We were pleased to see that several hundred current plan participants joined the webinars. If you were unable to participate or wish to review the information presented, a recording is now available. Click here to view the presentation.

Customer Care

As we prepare for the transition to the new Plan, Humana Group Medicare Customer Care is available to help. You may call Humana at 1.866.733.1872, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) with questions you may have about your coverage. When calling, please indicate that you are with the Pension Boards-UCC.


Generations Financial Resources: A New Service for MFVI Participants

Generations Financial Resources, Inc., is a lending corporation designed to help alleviate the crushing burden of clergy indebtedness in the UCC.

Working in coordination with the Minister’s Financial Vitality Initiative it combines personal finance education, needs-based grants to reduce debt levels, and most significantly, low-interest rate refinancing to substantially reduce the rates our clergy are paying on their educational debt. Watch this video to learn more.

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2021 Applications Close November 15 for Program One of the Ministers' Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI)

Thank you to all who have submitted applications for the Ministers' Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI) program. The Pension Boards will continue to review and receive applications through November 15. Sixty participants (two cohorts of 30 participants each) will begin their financial wellness journey in 2021. Applicants who are not received into the 2021 cohorts are encouraged to reapply next year.


Randy H. Garrett Named MFVI Interim Program Director

The Pension Boards is pleased to announce that Randy H. Garrett, Senior Finance Manager of Generations Financial Resources, Inc. and Generations Investment Services, Inc., two controlled affiliate companies of the Pensions Boards, has been named Interim Program Director of the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI) until a new director is appointed in early 2021. Read Full announcement here. 


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 into your account on the Employer Portal 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 timely, and that your monthly invoices will reflect the updated information as changes occur.

If you need a paper form, 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.


New Effective Date Policy

GettyImages 995353918Beginning January 1, 2021, the Pension Boards' policy will be to accept only current or future dates on all benefit forms submitted to effect any benefit enrollment or change for our members. Retroactive effective dates will no longer be accepted. Look for additional communications regarding this change in coming weeks.


NEW! EY TaxChat App

The EY TaxChat™ app is an on-demand, mobile tax preparation service that connects Pension Boards members with Ernst & Young (EY) tax professionals in an easy-to-use online environment, making the filing of tax returns simple, fast, and reliable.

  • Get securely matched with EY tax preparer most suited for your tax situation
  • Rely on a dedicated EY professional to prepare and file taxes for you
  • Costs start at $199 - much less expensive than a traditional tax preparation service


PBUCC members get a 10% discount using referral code: PBUCC20. If you register by December 31, you will receive an additional 10% discount. Learn more here. To receive a free, no-obligation price quote, click here.


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, www.pbucc.org.


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.