Many in our beloved church have a “love/hate” relationship with the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) With the recent changes announced by the board impacting our health care benefits, it is no wonder there is a high level of frustration. This has not been my experience.
From where I sit, I know that the members of the Board of Pensions agonize over their decisions just as we agonize over decisions in our ministries. I truly trust that the staff is focused on our “Wellbeing” with the decisions they make!
This board has been entrusted the care of our contributions—our livelihood and healthcare and retirement and our families wellbeing! The board and staff are serious stewards in making decisions that will assure all who place their lives in the Board’s hands will have basic benefits backed with real dollars invested and held in trust on behalf of us all. The Board of Pensions is not going to go bankrupt!
For over forty years, I have had a positive experience in working with the Board of Pensions. A few tips from my perspective as a pastor:
Read the information the Board sends out to all members. Make sure that church sessions and governing boards also see these materials.
1. Make it a point to get to know your regional representative. If you are not addressing a specific issue, all you really have to do is pick up the phone or construct and email that asks: What should I be thinking about at this state of my career?
2. Keep a file of current materials sent by the Board of Pensions or Benefits Connect or Active Health Management. More important, keep a file on all the special papers the Board sends you giving you updates on where you stand with your benefits.
3. Register with BENEFITS CONNECT and ACTIVE HEALTH and CATAMARAN (Prescription Drug benefits). Look for emails from these providers that support the work of the Board of Pensions
4. Personally, I found BENEFITS CONNECT especially helpful. It is easy to register and know exactly where you stand with your Board of Pensions benefits!
5. Keep a note book logging all your contacts with the Board of Pensions. This is something I decided to do several years ago. It is important to know dates and times and names of people we call for advise and help.
6. Be patient: It takes time to apply for and receive benefits. It took me more than one phone call to fully understand the nuances in working with multiple agencies all under the umbrella of the Board of Pensions.
I recently applied for disability. I had a contact persons who was available to help me walk through the entire process of applying for disability. This is a complex process! My contact person was always available to help me answer my many questions.
When I was approved to receive benefits, referral was made to ALLSUP. INC that is currently helping me work with the Social Security Administration. Another wonderful benefit that didn’t cost me anything and helped me avoid standing in a long line with SSA.
Granted, there are going to be bumps I the road when it comes to our using our benefits. Trust me! Things will be much easier if we are proactive early in our careers in getting to know about the work and benefits we pay for.
My experience has been positive as I have worked through these layers/levels of contact under the umbrella of the Board of Pensions.