Legislative Updates

CARES Act
More than $300 billion has been added to Paycheck Protection Program funding and is available through small business loans. If your ministry has not yet applied for a PPP loan there is still time and we encourage you to look into this option.
The Lutheran Federal Credit Union (LFCU) is positioned to become a Small Business Association approved lender for these loans. Applying through the LFCU may be an option for current LFCU members and/or ministries struggling to find a lender that will accept their application. Any ministry that wishes to apply through the LFCU must first apply for LFCU membership. For more information, click here.
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.

Resources
CARES Act Topics
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.

    Such an employer would have to determine that paying the leave would jeopardize the viability of the employer, and an authorized officer of the business has determined that:
    1. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
    2. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
    3. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

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.

Important changes regarding your Health Plan

Your health plan coverage now has FREE COVID-19 testing, treatment and telehealth coverage*

Through 9/30/2020, the CHP is covering testing and treatment for COVID-19, as well as telehealth services* at 100% - this means no out of pocket costs to you. By not having this burden of cost, we hope that you will be able to get the care you need during this difficult time.

  • Testing for COVID-19. Testing is covered 100% through your CHP benefits, for both in-network or out-of-network providers.
  • Treatment of COVID-19. If you’re diagnosed with the coronavirus disease, treatment is covered 100% ONLY for in-network providers. While testing and treatment for COVID-19 continues to evolve, coverage will include the following:
    • All FDA-approved testing methods.
    • Inpatient and outpatient services.
    • Respiratory services.
    • Durable medical equipment.
    • Skilled care needs.
    • FDA-approved drugs when they become available.
  • Telehealth services*. So you don’t have to step foot in a doctor’s office, an urgent care or an emergency room and can remain in the security of your home during this time, we’re providing 100% coverage for all telehealth visits. This includes visits for any common illness, such as flu, stress/anxiety, emotional support, skin conditions, allergies, etc. This applies to all telehealth benefits offered through each of the CHP options.
    • Employee Assistance Program – provides emotional support benefits for all CHP options.
    • 98point6 – text-based telehealth for all CHP options.
    • MDLIVE & Amwell – for all Cigna plan options. Respiratory services.
    • Doctor on Demand – for all BCBS plan options. NOTE: BCBS members will pay for their visit and then be refunded once DOD processes the claim with BCBS. If you want to avoid this, you can use 98point6, which will not require any payment.
    • Kaiser Permanente Telehealth – for all Kaiser Permanente options.
    • Teladoc – for all UMR plan options.

*Through CPS-approved telehealth vendors. Meetings with your doctors through Zoom or other video chat services are covered with your regular cost-sharing and deductibles.


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.


My Health
Are COVID-19 related services covered under the Concordia Health Plan?

All COVID-19 related services, including testing and treatment, are covered at 100% in the Concordia Health Plan with no member out-of-pocket costs. Members served by Blue Cross Blue Shield 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.

What Telehealth options are available through the Concordia Health Plan?

All telehealth visits for any reason (including non-COVID) are covered at 100 percent without copays or deductibles, including for members in high deductible plans, until September 30, 2020. This does not include Zoom or other video conference appointments with doctors outside of the telehealth programs. Find the Telehealth solution for your plan option.

 

You can also use these NEW telehealth benefits that are always free for you as part of your Concordia Health Plan:

 

24/7 text-based medical care with 98point6

  • No appointments, no travel, no waiting room.
  • Zero cost to you - even if you're in a high deductible health plan.
  • Quality, personalized care from board-certified physicians.
  • Photo, video and voice support when needed.
  • Range of care, including medical questions, diagnosis, treatment, prescription, mental health support, referrals and more!

Click here to learn more.

 

Virtual Physical Therapy with SWORD

  • Combines the best in human care with easy-to-use technology to provide a more convenient option than traditional in-person physical therapy.
  • Includes a tablet, motion sensors, and access to a licensed physical therapist who will design your personalized program and be there to support you every step of the way.
  • Treats pain for the lower back, shoulder, neck, hip, knee, elbow and ankle.

Click here to learn more.

I am having dental issues but can’t go into the dentist. Is there a virtual option for me?

Yes, Cigna is now offering virtual dental care. This service allows customers to speak with a licensed dentist by video chat which eliminates the need to leave home and visit a dental office. Through May 31, 2020, Cigna Dental customers can use this virtual care option at no cost for dental consultations.

 

The service is designed to help customers meet with a licensed dentist who, through a video call, can help address urgent dental situations such as pain, infection, swelling, and more. Depending on a customer’s situation, the dentist can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics and non-narcotic pain relievers.

 

The nature of this type of care delivery precludes dentists from performing more involved procedures, but if such care is needed, the consulting dentist can assist in determining next steps.

 

To request a virtual consultation with a dentist, log on to your myCigna account and follow prompts to be taken to the Cigna Dental Virtual Care portal. Accessing the virtual care portal via myCigna is the only way The TeleDentists can identify eligible customers.

 

* Not available in Maine and Texas

What emotional support is available to CHP members during this time?

The Cigna Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is now offering up to 10 free sessions per member through September 30, 2020. For more information click here.

 

The Pastoral Support Network is for ordained pastors and those that live in a pastor’s home (regardless of enrollment in the Concordia Plans). The Pastoral Support Network provides free, confidential counseling sessions. For more information click here.


My Finances
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.
What can I do in response to the volatile stock market?
Fidelity has created a presentation titled “Navigating Market Volatility” that addresses the importance of having a plan, how to avoid common pitfalls, things you can do right now and how Fidelity can help. View the presentation.
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.
Where can I get more information about unemployment benefits?
The Department of Labor provides links to unemployment resources from all states. Click here to visit their site.
How can I learn more about accessing my retirement funds as described in the CARES Act?

The CARES Act provides opportunities to access funds from your 403(b) account or other retirement savings accounts if you have suffered serious financial harm due to the economic effects of COVID-19.

 

If you are experiencing financial stress, this may seem like a quick fix. But before making any decisions to tap into your 403(b) savings, it is important to understand the consequences of a distribution and consider alternatives. To help you make an informed decision, click here to view important considerations before you make a withdrawal from your CRSP account or other retirement savings accounts.

 

To learn more watch the webinar on the CRSP and CARES Act or contact one of our financial wellness educators:


My Benefits
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.

Legislation
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?
The IRS has published a “What you need to know” document and you can access this FAQ for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions


Managing Your Workforce
Does CPS have resources that can help ministries as they consider bringing workers back?

CPS is partnering with Mammoth HR, a third-party vendor to deliver HR services and resources to LCMS ministries. They have made the following resources available.*

  • Return to Work checklist, with information your ministry should consider related to leave policies, hiring practices and policies, work from home and childcare policies and more. Additional considerations for health and safety and additional best practices for leaders are included.
  • A Welcome Back letter template that can be adjusted for your ministry’s needs.
  • Additional resources are available at no cost on their COVID-19 Crisis Response Center website. The site features additional sample forms and letters, videos explaining key tasks your ministry may need to undertake and more.

Cigna has provided a Resources for Reopening document that addresses how your ministry can reduce the risk of COVID 19 infection at your workplace, what to do if an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, when employees can return to work if they have demonstrated symptoms and more. The resource also includes information about scams and fraud attempts to be aware of.

 

* Similar HR resources would be provided regularly to any ministry that subscribes to this new HR service. Contact your account manager for more information.

Does CPS have a resource that can help us with HR issues during this challenging time?

A Free, Reliable HR Resource for Ministries

 

Laws and employer responsibilities are changing every day. HR Services provides up-to-date information related to the COVID-19 virus including legislative updates on the federal, state and local levels. Concordia Plan Services is offering HR Services to all our ministries free for the months of April and May. For more information contact your Account Manager.


My Workers’ Benefits
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.

Working with CPS
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.

Legislation
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.
What are the details of the CARES Act?
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. For more detailed information check the Legislative Updates section of this site.

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:
Safety Items Purchasing Resource for Ministries
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s group purchasing arrangement with Office Depot makes it possible for your church and/or school to get discounted prices on face masks, infrared thermometers, sanitizers and other items necessary to open up safely.

For LCMS organizations that already have an account set up through the LCMS Group Purchasing Agreement, those discounts are available using the designated website: www.business.officedepot.com

For example, Office Depot has pricing for 4 different types of masks in stock and ready for next-day delivery nationwide:
  • #9825375 - Sunsmed Protective Products 3-Ply Pleated Face Mask, Adult, One Size, Box of 50 $39.99
  • #4497729 - JCJZ 3-Ply Pleated Face Mask, Adult, One Size, Box of 50 $39.50
  • #5611072 - LifeToGo 3-Ply Disposable Face Mask, Adult, One Size, Box of 50 $39.50
  • #4993682 - Kata 3-Ply Pleated Face Mask, Adult, One Size, Box of 50 $39.50
If you are an LCMS church/school that needs to set up an account, please contact Becky Fluchel, Office Depot’s Account Manager for the LCMS.

Becky’s contact information:
“Return to Work” Resources for Ministries

CPS is partnering with Mammoth HR, a third-party vendor to deliver HR services and resources to LCMS ministries. They have made the following resources available.*

  • Return to Work checklist, with information your ministry should consider related to leave policies, hiring practices and policies, work from home and childcare policies and more. Additional considerations for health and safety and additional best practices for leaders are included.
  • A Welcome Back letter template that can be adjusted for your ministry’s needs.
  • Additional resources are available at no cost on their COVID-19 Crisis Response Center website. The site features additional sample forms and letters, videos explaining key tasks your ministry may need to undertake and more.

Cigna has provided a Resources for Reopening document that addresses how your ministry can reduce the risk of COVID 19 infection at your workplace, what to do if an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, when employees can return to work if they have demonstrated symptoms and more. The resource also includes information about scams and fraud attempts to be aware of.
 

* Similar HR resources would be provided regularly to any ministry that subscribes to this new HR service. Contact your account manager for more information.
 


HR Services from CPS Provided at No Cost

A Free, Reliable HR Resource for Ministries

Laws and employer responsibilities are changing every day. HR Services provides up-to-date information related to the COVID-19 virus including legislative updates on the federal, state and local levels. Concordia Plan Services is offering HR Services to all our ministries free for the months of April and May. For more information contact your Account Manager.
 
LCMS Resources
  • LCMS.org, which includes messages from President Harrison as well as resources for ministries and members as we react to this pandemic as Lutheran Christians.
  • Rostered church workers: Are you a current borrower with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF)? LCEF has a dedicated team to answer all of your questions. For more information visit the lending team’s site or call 800-843-5233.
  • The Lutheran Church Extension Fund offers e-tithing and e-tuition payments through the Joyful Response program, a free stewardship service for LCMS congregations, schools and registered service organizations (RSOs).Joyful Response allows your members to give one-time gifts or recurring tithe on your church website or by a mobile phone app For a small fee, text giving can be set up (charged to the congregation). For more information, go to https://lcef.org/joyful-response/ or call LCEF at 800-843-5233.
  • The LCMS Foundation has published a Frequently Asked Questions page for both ministries and members. The pages include information about how the Foundation is addressing market changes and investments, how endowments are affected by market changes, how members can make gifts or additions to their accounts and more. Access the ministry FAQ and the member FAQ here.

My Health
  • All telehealth visits* for any reason (including non-COVID) are covered at 100 percent, including for members in high deductible plans. Find the Telehealth solution for your plan option.
     

    *Through CPS-approved telehealth vendors. Meetings with your doctors through Zoom or other video chat services are covered with your regular cost-sharing and deductibles.

  • You can also use these NEW telehealth benefits that are always free for you as part of your Concordia Health Plan:

     

    24/7 text-based medical care with 98point6

    • 24/7 text-based access.
    • No appointments, no travel, no waiting room.
    • Zero cost to you - even if you're in a high deductible health plan.
    • Quality, personalized care from board-certified physicians.
    • Private and secure in-app messaging-based experience.
    • Photo, video and voice support when needed.
    • Range of care, including medical questions, diagnosis, treatment, prescription, mental health support, referrals and more!

    Click here to learn more.

     

    Virtual Physical Therapy with SWORD

    • Combines the best in human care with easy-to-use technology to provide a more convenient option than traditional in-person physical therapy.
    • Includes a tablet, motion sensors, and access to a licensed physical therapist who will design your personalized program and be there to support you every step of the way.
    • Treats pain for the lower back, shoulder, neck, hip, knee, elbow and ankle.

    Click here to learn more.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has the most reliable information about the disease at CDC.gov. You can also visit pages specifically developed for schools and faith-based organizations.
  • The web sites of several of our healthcare administrators have detailed information about the disease and steps you can take to protect and care for yourself and your family. Visit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cigna, United Healthcare (UMR), Kaiser Permanente and Express Scripts for more detailed information.
  • Engaging healthy habits while social distancing

Financial Wellness

Emotional Wellness

Legal Resources

The Lutheran Legal League (L3) is an organization of actively practicing attorneys who regularly attend an LCMS church and have offered to speak with LCMS churches and members about issues related to COVID-19 legislation, including loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. L3 is not a referral company, but rather an organization that wants to serve God by helping fellow brothers and sisters within the LCMS. Visit their web site for their phone number or to submit a message to L3.

 

The information about the Lutheran Legal League contained on this website does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by Concordia Plan Services. It is your responsibility to investigate and verify providers and services. Concordia Plan Services assumes no liability of any kind for the content of any information transmitted to or received by any person in connection with the person’s use of the Lutheran Legal League or of any or its members . Also, references on this web site to any specific commercial product, process, information, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by Concordia Plan Services.