The Benefits of Long-term Disability Insurance

The article about ministerial disability in InterConnections ("How to Respond When Ministers Become Ill," Spring 2007) reminds us that we are all vulnerable to sudden illness or accidents that can impair our ability to earn a living. Congregations are at risk of losing the service of a minister or key staff member, and this can have significant financial implications.

The  Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) provides its congregations access to group dental, term life, and long term disability coverage for staff members who work half-time or more. The current policies are with MetLife. In April 2007, 932 church staff members were enrolled for long-term disability insurance, 692 for life insurance, and 482 for dental.

Congregations typically permit their staff to enroll in any one or all of these three lines, and enrollment should occur within the first thirty days of employment. Congregations are not required to pay the premiums, but many do.

Long term disability insurance provides benefits of 60 percent of wages (salary and housing allowance in the case of clergy) after a period of ninety days of the enrollee being unable to perform his or her duties.

Problems can arise if a staff member who becomes disabled has no disability protection and the congregation feels a moral obligation to continue wages until the employee gets well, which may take years. Differences of opinion on the congregation's obligations can create tension within governing boards or in the membership. For more information email ocsf [at] uua [dot] org.

—The Rev. Ralph Mero
UUA Church Staff Finances Director

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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