Proposed changes to WELS retirement program 2021

June 2021 Update:  WELS held two webinars, one on June 3 and another on June 8, to inform 2021 synod convention delegates regarding the proposed changes and allow delegates to ask questions.  A replay of the June 8 webinar is available at this link.

A retirement strategy committee was appointed in 2017 and has done extensive research on the best options for providing future retirement benefits to workers. The committee has completed its work and recommends that some changes be made to the WELS retirement program.

In summary, it is proposed that the WELS Pension Plan be frozen and replaced with a defined contribution plan, wherein all eligible workers would receive contributions to individual accounts in the WELS Shepherd Plan to be used for retirement benefits. The proposed changes have been reviewed and endorsed by both the Conference of Presidents and Synodical Council.

The WELS Retirement Strategy Committee invites you to learn more about these proposed changes by viewing the presentation included above.

In addition to the presentation, a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page is available here: FAQ page.

WELS has also developed a benefit comparison tool, which will help workers to compare their potential benefits at retirement under the current and proposed programs, and is available here: comparison tool.

The proposed changes will be a significant topic on the 2021 synod convention agenda. A resolution will be provided for the delegates to review, discuss, and vote on during the convention.  If the convention approves the resolution, it is anticipated that the proposed changes will be implemented as of January 1, 2022.  Information will be included in the Book of Reports and Memorials leading up to the convention.

It is important to note that, if the proposed changes are approved and implemented, all benefits earned under the WELS Pension Plan prior to its freeze date will be honored and paid according to the plan’s terms.  Benefits earned under the WELS Pension Plan will not be lost as a result of the proposed changes.

WELS is committed to providing detailed, transparent information during this process.  Please refer to the FAQ page which will be updated with additional information.  If you have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding the proposed changes, please submit them to WELS using the feedback form here: feedback form.

Important Advantages of WELS VEBA

WELS VEBA provides health benefits for workers at WELS and ELS calling bodies across the country.  The above video provides information on the important advantages of WELS VEBA.  A flyer highlighting the main points discussed in the video is available for download here.  We encourage you to share this video and flyer with fellow workers and leaders at your organization as you make future health coverage decisions.

The business of health coverage is now more confusing than ever, especially given the uncertainties brought about by health care reform.  As our church’s health plan and trusted resource for health benefits, you can rest assured that WELS VEBA will analyze the complex regulations to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and offer the best coverage at a reasonable price for WELS/ELS pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay workers.

By providing WELS VEBA to our workers and their families, calling bodies ensure stable, high-quality health coverage for the duration of our workers’ WELS/ELS ministries, regardless of where the Lord calls them to serve.

WELS Benefit Plans Office, on behalf of the WELS VEBA Commission