The WELS Benefit Plans Office (BPO) serves WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) workers and organizations through administration of the WELS Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) Health Plan, the WELS Pension Plan, and the WELS Shepherd Plan.
The WELS VEBA Health Plan provides benefits for church and school workers in accordance with God’s Word while remaining compliant with the federal health care reform law. The plan provides comprehensive, nationwide coverage. More than 80 percent of WELS workers and calling bodies participate in WELS VEBA.
Delegates of the 2021 synod convention authorized significant changes to the WELS retirement program. Beginning January 1, 2022, WELS called workers earn retirement benefits through defined contributions made to their accounts in the WELS Shepherd Plan, which is the name of WELS’ retirement savings plan for synod workers. In addition to the defined contributions, workers can save and invest a portion of their earnings in the Shepherd Plan to provide income during their retirement years. The WELS Pension Plan was frozen on December 31, 2021, which means that all Pension benefits earned through the freeze date will be paid to participants but no new Pension benefits can be earned for service performed after the freeze date.
“There are three main advantages to the change,” notes Mr. Joshua Peterman, director of WELS Benefit Plans. “First, workers will receive meaningful contributions for retirement benefits. Second, workers will have more flexibility to provide for their retirement income needs and to share savings with their survivors. Finally, sponsoring organization costs are expected to be more stable over time.”
Coverage and benefits provided through WELS Benefit Plans are uniform throughout all 50 states. This supports the WELS ministry and call process because worker call decisions are not influenced by health insurance and retirement benefit decisions.
Visit welsbpo.net for more information.