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Decision No. 171

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May 04 1960
In Re: Whether a Minister Retired on Disability Can Receive Annuity While Engaged in

Digest of Case

A ministerial member of an Annual Conference who has been placed in the retired relation with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability can receive payment for "full-time" or "nearly full-time" secular employment and at the same time draw an annuity from the Conference Board of Pensions.

Statement of Facts

At the session of the North Alabama Conference, held September 10, 1959, a resolution was adopted to request the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision paralleling Decision No. 149 which was rendered upon request of the Virginia Annual Conference, on the following question: "Can a ministerial member of the Conference who has been placed in retirement relation with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability, receive payment for 'full-time' or 'nearly full-time' secular employment and at the same time draw an annuity from the Conference Board of Pensions?" JURISDICTION Under sub-section 8, Paragraph 914 of the 1956 Discipline, the Judicial Council has jurisdiction to render a declaratory decision on the question submitted by the North Alabama Conference. ANALYSIS In Decision No. 149, the Judicial Council ruled that a ministerial member of an Annual Conference who has been placed in the retired relation with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability, may not serve a church in a ministerial capacity and receive compensation for such service and at the same time draw an annuity from the Board of Pensions of an Annual Conference. The question raised in this request is whether a ministerial member who has similarly been placed in the retired relation with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability, may receive payment for "full-time" or "nearly full-time" secular employment and at the same time draw an annuity from the Conference Board of Pensions. In Decision No. 149, attention was called to sub-paragraphs 1 and 4, of Paragraph 1617 of the 1956 Discipline. Sub-paragraph 1 indicates the power of an Annual Conference to place a ministerial member in the retired relation with or without his consent and irrespective of his age, if such relation be recommended by the committee on Conference Relations. Sub-paragraph 4 describes the provision for granting the retired relation to a ministerial member with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability, after thorough investigation and certification by medical authorities indicates that the minister is unable through physical or mental disability to perform the duties of a minister. Decision No. 149 was based on the reasoning that a minister who was granted retirement with the privilege of making an annuity claim, specifically because he was found after thorough investigation, to be unable to perform the work of a minister, would necessarily be unable to serve a church in a ministerial capacity following his retirement. If, however, his disability terminated, making it possible for him to serve a church, he would no longer be entitled to continue in the retired relation with the privilege of receiving an annuity. The question raised in this request, however, is a little different. It is conceivable that a minister might be physically or mentally disabled in such a way that he could not serve a church in the capacity of a minister, but be able to render service on a full-time or nearly full-time basis in some secular occupation. The question is whether under such circumstances he could receive his annuity. We find no provision in the Discipline which disqualifies a minister engaged in secular work after having been granted the retired relation due to disability from receiving an annuity for his years of service, as any other minister who has been granted the retired relation, provided the Annual Conference has not by due process disallowed his claim. Paragraph 1616 of the 1956 Discipline provides that "The Annual Conference shall be the sole judge of the admissibility and validity of annuity claims and shall be fully competent to determine all payments, disallowances, and deductions thereunder subject to the specific regulations relating thereto contained in the Discipline." Paragraph 1617 (4) states: "Retirement with the privilege of making anannuity claim on the ground of personal disability shall be permitted only after a thorough investigation of the case by, and presentation of a medical certificate to, the Committee on Conference Relations.... If such disability continue for more than one year, such medical certificate shall be required annually." These provisions furnish ample protection against the abuse of this provision for disabled ministers.

Decision

It is therefore the decision of the Judicial Council that a ministerial member of an Annual Conference who has been placed in the retired relation with the privilege of making an annuity claim on the ground of personal disability, may receive payment for "full-time" or "nearly full-time" secular employment, and at the same time draw an annuity from the Conference Board of Pensions.

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