A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would provide a window of opportunity for clergy who have been exempted from social security contributions to opt back into the program. The legislation (H.R. 6068) is known as the Clergy Act and was introduced by Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Mike Thompson, both representatives from the state of California. The act has already passed through and been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee in November.
The legislation is receiving support from both parties as it would add funds to strengthen the social security system and would also assist ministers with retirement income. Currently, when a minister opts out of social security, the decision is irreversible. They do not contribute nor are they eligible to receive assistance from most major federal insurance programs.
As part of its commitment to the financial wellbeing of ministers, Geneva Benefits Group encourages pastors to remain in and participate in the Social Security program. As Ed Dunnington, President of Geneva Benefits Group, points out, “The allure to save 15.3 percent in annual taxes is strong, especially since ministry wages are generally modest. However, the repercussions years down the road are staggering. Though imperfect, Social Security offers competitive advantages during the retirement years. Social Security guarantees half your income and gives you access to medical coverage that otherwise might be more difficult to come by.”
In 2010, Geneva commissioned a study of the retirement readiness of pastors across the PCA. The results showed the number of pastors without sufficient savings in retirement will quadruple by 2035. As a result, Geneva has continually strengthened its Relief Fund to assist pastors and their widows who are experiencing financial distress. Additionally, Geneva has created tools like Call Package Guidelines and hired financial planning advisors to consult with pastors to assist in their preparation for retirement.
The next step for the new legislation is for it to come before the entire House. After being approved by the House, it will also require the consideration and approval of the Senate. If you want to advocate for its consideration, contact your congressional representative and ask them to vote in favor of it. You can read the entire bill here. You can also read Geneva’s Q & A on the social security exemption here.
Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.