Why Is Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Required?
1. Why does CEBS have a continuing education requirement?
The need for a formalized continuing education component for CEBS has been an ongoing dialogue since the inception of the program in the mid-1970s. Today’s increasing rate of change in employee benefits—triggered by regulatory developments, economic forces and marketplace trends—has magnified the imperative for CEBS graduates to be recognized for continually expanding their industry knowledge and updating their expertise in order to properly advise and/or administer the benefit plans they serve. It also aligns the CEBS designation with other professional credentials having a continuing education requirement. Continued learning and development is also in accordance with the CEBS Principles of Conduct, with which all CEBS graduates are expected to comply.
2. I am already subject to another requirement (e.g., agent licensing, CFP, PHR, CHRP). What impact will the new CEBS CPE Requirement have on me?
The CPE requirement formally acknowledges the CEBS commitment to lifelong learning. Most CEBS graduates are involved in a variety of continuing education activities in order to stay current, expand their knowledge or satisfy requirements for other professional designations and licenses. Since these activities are likely to qualify for CEBS continuing education credit, the policy is expected to have moderate impact on most graduates.
3. What are the advantages of a CPE requirement?
A CEBS continuing education requirement provides the following advantages:
- Advances CEBS graduates’ reputation as highly knowledgeable and competent professionals
- Recognizes graduates for staying at the forefront of employee benefit trends and practices
- Helps the CEBS designation to remain visible, relevant, competitive and viable in the the employee benefits education marketplace
- Reinforces visibility and credibility in a crowded marketplace of professional designations
- Demonstrates dedication to serving employers, clients and plan participants.
Who Is Subject to the CPE Requirement?
4. Who must meet the CPE requirement?
All CEBS graduates of both the U.S. and Canadian programs are subject to the CPE requirement.
5. Is anyone exempt from the requirement?
No. The CPE requirement applies to all CEBS graduates.
6. Why is there no grandfather status?
Professional currency is vital at every career level, from recent graduates to seasoned professionals. The CPE requirement obliges all CEBS professionals to maintain and improve the knowledge, skills and competence needed for effective performance.
7. I am a GBA/RPA/CMS. Am I subject to compliance?
No. When you earn your CEBS, you will be subject to compliance.
8. I am not an ISCEBS or IFEBP member. Am I subject to compliance?
Yes. All CEBS graduates are subject to compliance regardless of membership status in ISCEBS or IFEBP.
9. How is the CPE requirement affected by unemployment?
The CPE requirement is in effect regardless of employment status.
10. How is the CPE requirement affected by retirement?
There is no longer just “one” definition of retirement. While some professionals conclude their professional activities upon leaving the workforce, others may continue in a different or reduced capacity. Therefore, if it is valuable to you to be recognized as CPE-compliant while retired, you must earn the required 30 credits, particularly if you still practice or interact with clients in any professional capacity.
11. When does the requirement take effect?
The CPE requirement for CEBS is effective as of January 1, 2013.
12. When can I start accumulating CPE credits?
You can earn credits for any qualifying activity completed on or after your CEBS completion date.
13. When does the CPE requirement become effective for new graduates?
New graduates are subject to the CPE requirement upon attainment of the CEBS designation. However, they will be deemed compliant for the reporting period during which they earn their designation and the period that follows. For example, a candidate attaining the CEBS designation during 2015 or 2016 would be considered compliant through December 31, 2018. He or she will need to earn 30 CPE credits during the 2017-2018 period to be recognized as CPE-compliant on January 1, 2019.
14. When will I be recognized for being CPE-compliant?
Immediately upon earning and reporting 30 CPE credits.
Calculating CPE Credit Hours
15. How is a CPE credit hour defined?
One CPE credit hour is equal to 50 minutes of qualifying activity. Meals, breaks and other noneducational activities do not qualify.
16. How many CPE credits are required?
All CEBS graduates are required to earn a minimum of 30 CPE credit hours for each two-year reporting period.
17. Can I earn partial hours of credit?
Yes. Credit can be earned and reported in .5 increments. Totals not in whole or half numbers must be rounded down to the nearest half credit. For example, a two-hour (120-minute) program qualifies for two credit hours and a 2½-hour program (150 minutes) earns three credit hours. Remember that breaks and other noneducational activities are not counted.
18. Is there a limit on the number of credits that can be earned from a single qualifying activity?
Credit for authorship and teaching/presenting is capped at 15 credits per reporting period.
19. If I accumulate more than 30 credits in a period may I carry the excess over to the next period?
No. Excess credits may not be carried over from one reporting period to the next.
20. If I begin a qualifying activity in one period and complete it in the next period, in which period can I claim the credit?
You must count the CPE credit hours in the period in which you completed the learning activity. CPE credits earned for any one activity may not be split between two reporting periods.
21. If I take a course or participate in a program that includes topics acceptable for CPE credit as well as topics not eligible, can I receive credit?
Yes, you may receive credit only for that portion of the activity related to acceptable subject matter content. For example, two credit hours could be claimed for a four-hour course that covers accepted subject topics during half of the program.
22. The provider of a course I am taking for CPE credit recommends a credit amount for their course. May I use that estimate for the CPE program?
You are responsible for calculating and reporting CPE activity in accordance with CEBS guidelines. A course provider’s suggested or advertised continuing education credits are an estimate of the course provider, and in some instances may not match the CEBS guidelines.
23. Does the CPE program make credit recommendations for any courses or programs?
Yes, the CPE program provides recommended CPE credit hours for programs sponsored by ISCEBS or IFEBP.
24. How does the two-year reporting period work?
CEBS graduates need 30 credit hours every two years. Each reporting period includes two calendar years. Credits are earned and reported during consecutive two-year periods. The current reporting period spans calendar years 2017 and 2018, then 2019 and 2020, and so on. See Policy 10 for details.
25. Why use a two-year reporting period rather than an annual one?
A two-year reporting period was adopted rather than an annual period because it provides CEBS graduates greater timing flexibility in earning credits. Required credits can be earned at any time during a two-year period. For example, the entire 30 credits can be earned from a single activity, such as completing a qualifying course. Alternatively, the credits can be earned in smaller increments at any time within the reporting period.
Subject Matter Content
26. What subject matter content is acceptable for credit?
The content of CPE activities must be related to the existing body of knowledge and applications covered in the CEBS curriculum. See CPE Content Domain of the CEBS Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Guidelines for a list of accepted topics.
27. Are there minimum or maximum credit requirements for any particular subject areas?
No, you may earn credits in any of the acceptable content areas described in CPE Content Domain to meet the CPE requirement.
28. What subject matter content is not acceptable for CPE credit?
In general, you can receive CPE credit only for subject matter related to the list of acceptable topics. Topics not eligible for credit include areas such as office, business or management skills, public speaking, sales training or other topics not directly related to the content area delineated in CPE Content Domain.
29. What activities qualify for CPE credit?
A broad variety of educational activities qualify for CPE credit. To qualify, an activity must relate to acceptable content areas and be supported by documentation which verifies participation in the activity. Please refer to CPE Content Domain of the CEBS Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Guidelines for more information on qualifying activities. To learn more about required documentation, see the Reporting and Recordkeeping section below, starting with question 45.
30. Can I receive credit for attending seminars, conferences, e-learning courses or Webinars?
Yes, you receive one CPE credit for each 50-minute hour of education for these activities. Appropriate documentation must be maintained.
31. If the activity includes an examination, must I pass the examination to receive CPE credit?
Yes, satisfactory completion of the examination is required to receive credit.
32. Can I earn CPE credit by obtaining other professional designations or licenses?
Yes, courses taken to earn a professional designation or license that relates to the CEBS content domain areas are eligible for up to 30 hours of credit per course.
33. If I am already subject to continuing education requirements for another designation or license, can I use those credits for the CEBS requirement?
Continuing education activities completed to satisfy other requirements may also qualify for CPE credit provided they comply with the CEBS continuing education content and activity guidelines. The number of CPE credit hours earned for these activities must be calculated as prescribed in Policy 3 of the CEBS Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Guidelines. CPE credit hours earned may differ from credit hours recommended or awarded by the course provider and other organizations.
34. Does the ISCEBS continuing education course/exam qualify for CEBS CPE credit?
Yes. Passing the national examination for each track (health and retirement) of the ISCEBS course qualifies for 15 CEBS CPE credits. Members who complete the entire course (i.e., both tracks) earn 30 CEBS CPE credits. These credits are automatically reported to your CPE profile.
35. What is the difference between attaining ISCEBS fellowship and CPE compliance?
The ISCEBS fellowship program is not affected by the CPE program. The requirements for fellowship remain the same. ISCEBS fellowship is earned by completing one or both tracks of the ISCEBS continuing education course (one track equals one year of fellowship). Since the full course (both tracks) qualifies for 30 CPE credits, any graduate who passes the national examination for the full continuing education course during a reporting period meets the CPE requirement for that reporting period.
36. Does membership in ISCEBS or IFEBP count toward CPE compliance?
No. Membership in any professional organization is not eligible for CPE credit.
37. Are college courses eligible for CPE credit?
Yes, completion of undergraduate and graduate courses are eligible for CPE credit provided they relate to CEBS content areas delineated in the CPE Content Domain. Credit is calculated by multiplying the institution’s credit hours by the course’s duration in weeks. For example, a three-credit-hour course offered over a 12-week semester equals 36 credit hours. Courses may exceed 30 hours per course, but only 30 hours of credit are allowable.
38. Can I receive credit for teaching or making a presentation at a professional event?
Yes, you can receive credit for teaching or presenting a topic in the acceptable CPE content areas to an audience of pension/retirement, employee benefits or compensation professionals or students. Two credits per hour of actual teaching/presenting time can be claimed for the first time the class or seminar is conducted. For second and subsequent offerings of the same course or session, one credit per hour of actual teaching/presenting time can be claimed. Credit for teaching/ presenting is capped at 15 credits per reporting period.
39. Can I receive credit for serving as a moderator in an educational session?
Yes, provided the educational session covers one or more of the content areas in the CPE Content Domain and you are in attendance for the entire session.
40. Can I receive credit for writing for professional publications?
Credits can be earned for authorship of books or articles intended for health, retirement, benefits or compensation professionals provided their content relates directly to acceptable CEBS content areas. CPE credit for authorship will be awarded for the time required to research and write the work. Authorship credit awarded shall not exceed 15 hours within a reporting period.
41. What if I believe an activity is relevant, but it is not listed as an approved activity. Can I get it approved?
It is your responsibility to assess the relevance of CPE activities using the guidelines provided. However, if you need assistance in determining whether an activity qualifies for CPE credit, you can contact CEBS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
42. What types of activities do not qualify for credit?
Activities that do not qualify for credit include unstructured activities such as reading books or articles on professional topics or activities for which no proof of completion is available; personal development courses such as public speaking; and any program less than 50 minutes long.
43. Does CEBS preapprove any activities or program sponsors for CPE credit?
With the exception of activities sponsored by IFEBP or ISCEBS, activities and program sponsors are not preapproved for credit. Because the CPE requirement is designed for maximum flexibility to reflect the diverse professional needs of CEBS graduates, you are free to choose any allowable activity that covers one or more of the content domains outlined in the CPE Content Domain. Contact CEBS at email@example.com with questions.
44. Where can I find educational activities that may qualify for CPE credit?
A directory of resources for possible CPE credit is available. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and other activities or sponsors may qualify. The directory is an informational resource. Inclusion on this list is not a guarantee of available activities or an endorsement of their content. Use the CPE content domain when evaluating possible CPE activities.
Reporting and Recordkeeping
45. How do I report my credit hours?
You may report credits at any time during the two-year reporting period via your Foundation profile at www.ifebp.org/myprofile.
46. When should I report my credit hours?
You are encouraged to report your credit hours as they are earned throughout the two-year reporting period.
47. Do I need to have my 30 CPE credits reported by the last day of the reporting period?
There is a 60-day grace period following the close of the reporting period. You must report your 30 CPE credits on or before March 1. It is important to remember that January 1 of a new reporting period is when CPE-compliant grads are recognized. (Reporting your credits as early as possible will ensure that you get the maximum window of recognition.)
48. What if I am short on CPE credits at the end of the reporting period?
If you are a few CPE credits short at the end of a reporting period but would like to attain compliance, you may use credits earned at the beginning of the next period to meet the requirement. Up to five credits earned during the first two months of the next reporting period may be used toward the requirement in the current period. For example, a candidate earning only 25 credits by the end of 2016 will not be listed as CPE-compliant for 2017 through 2018 unless the remaining five credits are earned and reported during the first two months of 2017. (Of course, those same five credits cannot be used toward the 30-credit requirement for the next period.)
49. Will the CPE program monitor compliance?
No. You are responsible for assuring compliance with the requirement. You can use the CPE online reporting system to assist you in keeping track of previously reported credits.
50. Will I receive a reminder to report my credit hours?
Yes, you will receive reminders periodically throughout the reporting period. Please be sure your e-mail address and other contact information is up-to-date with CEBS so we can contact you.
51. How do I show I have complied with the CPE requirement?
You must attest completion of 30 hours of CPE credit by the end of each two-year reporting period. Reporting is done online through your Foundation profile at www.ifebp.org/myprofile.
52. What type of supporting documentation is required?
Reported CPE credit hours must be supported by documentation that demonstrates compliance with the CPE requirements and verifies participation in the activity. Supporting documentation should include the following: brief description of the activity, name of the program, sponsoring organization, date of the activity, number of CPE credits earned and proof of completion of the activity (when applicable).
53. Do I need to submit my supporting documentation?
No. Supporting documentation is not required at time of attesting. You must keep track of your activities to ensure supporting documentation is available in the event of audit.
54. How long do I need to keep supporting documentation?
You must retain documentation of your activities for three years after the reporting period closes.
55. How is my compliance recognized?
The CEBS website reflects whether you have fulfilled the CPE requirement by publishing a list of “compliant” designees. This allows members of the public, including employers, to check on your compliance status. The names of “noncompliant” designees do not appear on the listing. Other avenues of recognition may take place at the ISCEBS Symposium or local chapter level.
56. How should I publicize my CPE-compliant status?
If you would like to highlight your CPE-compliant status on stationery, social media profiles, etc., you are welcome to add "CEBS CPE Compliant" to your name as appropriate. Contact CEBS if you have specific questions.
57. Is there a fee for reporting compliance?
Yes, a $75 processing fee will be assessed each reporting period for CPE administration, payable with the first reported activity. If you are a current member of the International Foundation, or ISCEBS, the reporting fee is waived for the 2017-2018 reporting period.
58. What about the $25 fee to report credit to a state or province/territory for insurance credit, or for credit to maintain another professional credential?
The $75 CPE processing fee is separate and distinct and does not cover any fees payable to IFEBP or ISCEBS to obtain CE credit for insurance licensure or other professional credentials.
59. What is the purpose of the audit?
The audit serves to verify the integrity of the information maintained on the CEBS compliance database. Randomly auditing designees who attest compliance helps verify good faith compliance on the part of all designees, without requiring everyone to produce documentation at the time of reporting. An audit may also disclose areas of confusion about the requirement and offers an opportunity for clarification.
60. What records will I need for the CPE audit?
If selected for audit, you should be prepared to submit supporting documentation of your CPE activities. Supporting documentation requirements are outlined in Policy 6. Supporting documentation should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
61. What if I do not meet the audit requirements?
You will be asked to substitute other eligible CPE activities for any shortfall.
62. Will I lose my CEBS designation if I do not comply with the CPE requirement?
63. What happens if I do not meet the CPE requirement?
You will not be recognized as “CPE-compliant” on the International Foundation website if you fail to fulfill the CPE requirement, nor can you represent yourself as such. This does not affect your right to use the CEBS designation. While you may not present yourself as “CPE-compliant,” you retain your CEBS credential. There is no expiration or revocation policy for the CEBS credential for noncompliance with CPE.
64. Do I need to inform anyone if I do not meet the CPE requirement?
The CEBS program does not require you to inform anyone if you are noncompliant. It is up to you to disclose your compliance status as required by your employer or requested by your clients.
65. Are there any exemptions available?
Exemptions are not available. If you are unable to meet the requirements during the current reporting period, you can participate in the next reporting period and be recognized as CPE-compliant immediately upon reporting 30 CPE credits.