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Legislative Updates

CARES Act
Status
  • Signed into law 3/27/20

Who it applies to
  • Small business loans as described in act available to employers with fewer than 500 workers.

FAQs
  • What is the current status of the CARES act?

    The CARES Act was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. Please note that this legislation is new and guidance has not yet been issued regarding how the provisions will be implemented. The Secretary of Treasury has stated he hopes the IRS guidance on the new bill will be issued by April 3, 2020. We cannot guarantee the guidance will be issued by that date, but please know that once it becomes available we will share it as quickly as possible.

Resources
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Status
  • Signed into law 3/18/20

Who it applies to
  • The law applies to ministries with fewer than 500 workers. Exceptions are available for employers with fewer than 50 workers.

FAQs
  • How do I manage a worker who needs to be out because his or her child’s school or childcare center has been closed?

    The worker would be eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act due to the closure of a school or childcare center for the first 10 days. Then FMLA leave under the bill would take effect.
  • How do the employees "sign up" for FMLA leave and how does the employer let the government know that it has paid people under the act?

    There are not yet any clear procedures. In the case of a school or childcare center closure, the employer could ask for proof that a school or childcare center has closed, unless it is under a shelter in place order that all schools and/or childcare centers must shut down. The employer does need to make sure that it keeps track of all of the leave given. As for letting the government know, the bill states that the employer is to simply withhold the payroll tax up to the law’s maximum amount equal to the amount of sick leave or FMLA leave that it has had to pay under the bill. There was not any explanation of notifying the government of the amount in the bill.

    The Department of Labor will be issuing regulations regarding paid sick leave and FMLA leave under the act very soon. CPS is monitoring the situation and will provide information about the regulations when they become available.
  • How does a ministry get payroll taxes returned if no one is getting paid?

    The employer retains and accesses the funds that they would have to otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. The IRS has stated that “the payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.”

    If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the required paid leave employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form (the form is expected to be released soon). If employers are not going to pay the leave time or are requesting an exemption from the DOL then they are not entitled to the credit.

    If employers have less than 50 employees, they can file an exemption to not pay leave related to school / childcare center closures but then they can’t get the tax credit. Also, if employers want to file for an exemption the DOL hasn’t released the “simple and clear” criteria yet to file the exemption.

Resources

Leadership Updates

At Concordia Plan Services we care deeply for the wellbeing of the ministries and members we serve. This is true at all times, but our concern is especially heightened as we work to understand the impact of COVID-19. Please use the following resources to answer some of your questions about the impact of COVID-19. God bless you and your ministry during this challenging time.

Concordia Retirement Plan and Concordia Retirement Savings Plan

With the current situation, you may be feeling anxious about your Concordia Retirement Savings Plan investments and Concordia Retirement Plan pension benefits. While we could not predict the current market situation, we are prepared for it. We have diligently planned for all potential market environments, including market turmoil like we are currently experiencing.  Please take a few minutes to read a message from Rob Bouche, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Brian Gardner, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, regarding our comprehensive plan of action and long-term investment strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that during uncertain times questions can arise about the Concordia Plans. Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Is testing for COVID-19 covered under the Concordia Health Plan?
Each of our health plan administrators (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cigna, United Healthcare (UMR) and Kaiser Permanente) has confirmed that testing for COVID-19 is covered at 100 percent in the Concordia Health Plan. Members served by BCBS of Minnesota, Cigna and UMR can be tested at any facility, even those out-of-network, for no cost. Kaiser Permanente members must be tested at a Kaiser network facility. All telehealth visits for COVID-19 related medical issues are covered at 100 percent, including for members in high deductible plans. Please see the chart for the full information.
What telehealth options are available through the Concordia Health Plan?
Your CHP option offers a Telehealth benefit, which covers COVID-19 related appointments at 100%. Find the Telehealth solution for your plan option.
What is CPS doing in response to the volatile stock market?
When there are dramatic changes in the market, it’s important to keep a long-term view of investing and not make quick and emotional decisions that may impact future returns. The CPS investment management team, investment consultants and investment managers continually monitor the markets and make investment decisions in this way while making critical adjustments when needed. For more detailed information about our approach to managing the CRP and the CRSP, access the resources above.
If the workforce of CPS is impacted by COVID-19 are our benefits in jeopardy? Will we get answers to benefits-related questions?
CPS has done extensive preparation to ensure that we can maintain normal business operations and serve the ministries and members of the LCMS during challenging times like these. While we care for the wellbeing of our own staff, we also know how critical it is to maintain a high level of service. Please call us at (888) 927-7526 or email us at info@ConcordiaPlans.org with any questions related to COVID-19 or any other benefits-related matter.
When can I expect a response from CPS when I call in or email a question?
To protect the safety of our own staff, CPS representatives are working remotely. This may cause a longer delay in getting a response to your inquiry. Please allow us 24 hours to respond so that we can effectively assist the ministries and workers of the LCMS.
Will I lose my benefits coverage if my employer is not able to pay its bill?
We will not drop workers from benefits coverage if an employer is struggling to pay its bill due to a closure or another COVID-19 related issue. We understand that this is a challenging time for ministries. We will work with ministries to develop a plan that addresses their challenges and keeps coverage in place. If your ministry is facing financial challenges please call us at (888) 927-7526 to discuss.
What are the details of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
The bill details requirements for employers related to paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave. The bill also details how employers can recoup those costs through tax credits, among other topics. Read a high-level summary of the bill and the Department of Labor’s fact sheet for employees for more specifics.
What are the details of the individual rebates detailed in the CARES Act?
To view full information on the rebates, read this FAQ.
I am currently receiving a monthly pension check from Concordia Retirement Plan in the mail. Can I switch my monthly payment to direct deposit so I don’t need to go to my financial institution or rely on the postal service for delivery?
Yes. Direct deposit is a payment option in which your monthly benefit payment is automatically deposited into your bank account on the first business day of every month. To begin, simply fill out the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form and return the completed form to our office. If you are unable to return the completed form with a voided check, please contact your bank to confirm your correct routing number and account number. Upon receipt of your completed form, our office will process your change to direct deposit and will send you a confirmation letter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the details of the CARES act that the Senate passed?
Relief comes through the bill in the form of small business loans, tax credits for companies that retain employees during this time, tax rebates for individuals and more. To read an FAQ document about the act click here. As the bill has just passed the Senate, there are not yet details available on how the loans and credits will be obtained. We will provide more information as we have it.
What are the details of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
The bill details requirements for employers related to paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave. The bill also details how employers can recoup those costs through tax credits, among other topics. Read a high-level summary of the bill and the Department of Labor’s fact sheet and Q&A document for employers.
When will the tax credits described in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act be available?
Credits for paid leave provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act are now available and are designed to “immediately” reimburse employers 100 percent for the costs of that leave. With these credits employers can retain funds that they would otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. A new claim form will be available soon for any credit in excess of an employer’s payroll tax liability for the quarter. The first quarter ends on March 31 with a filing deadline of April 30. To read the full announcement, click here.
Will CPS be able to maintain operations if it loses a substantial portion of its workforce or the International Center has to close due to a virus outbreak at its facilities?
CPS has done extensive preparation to ensure that we can maintain normal business operations and serve the ministries and members of the LCMS during challenging times like these. While we care for the wellbeing of our own staff, we also know how critical it is to maintain a high level of service. Please call us at (888) 927-7526 or email us at info@ConcordiaPlans.org with any questions related to COVID-19 or any other benefits-related matter.
When can I expect a response from CPS when I call in or email a question?
To protect the safety of our own staff, CPS representatives are working remotely. This may cause a longer delay in getting a response to your inquiry. Please allow us 24 hours to respond so that we can effectively assist the ministries and workers of the LCMS.
What happens if a ministry can’t pay its bill because it is temporarily shut down?
We have compassion for ministries that may need to shut down temporarily due to the coronavirus disease. We anticipate that most shut downs will be temporary and that employers will continue to pay workers, keeping benefits intact. If a long-term closure occurs, or a ministry is physically unable to process a benefits payment check, we will work with that ministry to come up with a plan. Please contact your account team member if needed.
Will a ministry’s workers lose coverage if a ministry is not able to pay its benefits bill in a timely manner?
We will not drop workers from their benefits coverage with one late payment. We understand that this is a challenging time for ministries. We will work with ministries to develop a plan that addresses such a situation. Please contact your account team member if needed.

Additional Resources

It is critically important that we all turn to credible sources for information during this ever-changing time. Please visit the following sites for detailed and updated information: