Q – CAN A NON-LICENSED PASTOR OR STAFF MINISTER PARTICIPATE IN THE PLAN?
A – Yes. Non-licensed individuals may be voluntary participants if they are associate members of the Covenant Ministerium (see Section 11.2.a.ii of the Rules for the Ordered Ministry for a definition of associate membership) in good standing and if the church is willing to pay 12.5% of their total compensation into the Plan.
Q – WHAT IS A “VOLUNTARY PARTICIPANT?”
A – According to the Covenant Pension Plan Rules Article I, Section 1.1.z.vi(1), a voluntary participant is:
- a minister who has standing with the Covenant Ministerium, and who is employed full-time by a Covenant institution or other approved employers [or]
- a minister who is not a mandatory participant, who is an associate member of the Covenant Ministerium employed full-time who makes an election to participate with the consent of an employer included in the Plan
To become a voluntary participant, the church or organization you are serving must write a letter on letterhead to the director of pensions stating their intent to pay premiums on your behalf, signed by a church officer, and sent with a completed salary report form. You will receive a letter of confirmation from the director of pensions and the finance office will begin billing your employer.
Q – HOW DO I ENROLL IN THE COVENANT PENSION PLAN?
A – Pension information and forms are sent to individuals’ homes with their first-time or interim license certificate. It is the responsibility of the license holder to complete the forms necessary to begin pension and return them to the Department of the Ordered Ministry.
Q – HOW DO I NOTIFY THE COVENANT PENSION PLAN OF A CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT?
Q – WHO DO I CONTACT WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT BILLING OR IF I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A MONTHLY BENEFIT PROJECTION MADE?
Q – HOW MUCH ARE PENSION PREMIUMS?
A – Churches who have a full-time minister must make contributions equal to 12.5% of the minister’s salary, housing, and FICA combined.
Q – WHY DIDN’T I GET AN ANNUAL SALARY REPORT THIS YEAR?
A – If you are no longer serving in a Covenant organization and are not a voluntary participant, no pension payments are being made to your fund. Refer to the last report you received when you were serving for account information.
Q – CAN I ROLL MY PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS OVER INTO ANOTHER ACCOUNT?
A – According to the Covenant Pension Plan, Article VII, Section 7.1, “No employee or pensioner shall have the right or power to assign, alienate, transfer, sell, hypothecate, mortgage, pledge, commute, or in any way anticipate the payment or pension benefit; no pension benefit shall be in any way subject to any legal process or any kind or liable in any way for the payment of any employee’s or pensioner’s debts…” See the full Pension Plan for further details.
Q – WHO DO I CONTACT REGARDING RETIREMENT AND PENSION BENEFITS?
Q – HOW IS MY MONTHLY PENSION BENEFIT CALCULATED?
A – Monthly retirement benefits are payable for life to a vested participant when they retire on or after their sixty-fifth birthday at a rate of 1/12th of 1.5% of the participant’s total considered compensation (including annual base salary and other income from the employer, including housing and utility allowances, where applicable). Please contact contact Covenant Benefits staff at Benefits@CovChurch.org or 800-313-8955 for a projection of your pension benefit.
Q – HOW MUCH DOES MY SPOUSE GET IF I WERE TO DIE BEFORE HIM/HER?
A – The pension benefit payable to your surviving spouse is 65% of the monthly amount of pension which the participant was receiving, but not less than the current minimum amount for the participant service of twenty-five years or more.
Q – CAN I ELECT FOR MY SPOUSE TO RECEIVE MORE THAN 65%?
A – Yes. A participant may elect to receive a reduced pension payable monthly during the participant’s lifetime, with payments to continue after death at either 75% or 100% of the participant’s benefit. To elect this option, complete the Optional Surviving Spouse Benefit Form and return it to the Board of Pensions and Benefits not less than two years prior to normal or early retirement. This election may be made less than two years prior to normal or early retirement and before the date benefits begin only if the participant furnishes the Board of Pensions and Benefits with satisfactory evidence of good health.