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Clergy Pension Plan At-A-Glance

CPF is pleased to offer a comprehensive pension plan for eligible clergy of the Episcopal Church. This Guide offers highlights of the Clergy Pension Plan and related benefit plans. It provides details about the Clergy Pension Plan and other benefits provided by CPF to eligible clergy and their families.

Pension Fast Facts
Pensions 101
02:27

Participation

If you are an ordained Episcopal cleric, you automatically participate in the Clergy Pension Plan if you are compensated, regularly employed, expected to work five or more consecutive months for the same Episcopal employer, and your employer pays Assessments to CPF. If your position is expected to last for less than five months, and you have a letter of agreement directing the payment of Assessments by your employer for the services that you will provide, you have the option to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan.

Learn more about when participation begins and eligibility for benefits here.

How Benefits Are Calculated

Your pension benefits are calculated using a formula that takes into account various factors, including:

Credited Service

What Is It?

The period of years and months that your employer has paid full Assessments on your Total Assessable Compensation and, if applicable, for which you have personally paid Assessments.

Why Is It Important?

Credited Service is used to calculate your pension amount.

Highest Average Compensation (HAC)

What Is It?

If you earn Credited Service on or after January 1, 2018, your Highest Average Compensation is the average of the seven highest-paid, non-overlapping, 12-month periods during which you earned Credited Service over your entire career.

Why Is It Important?

Highest Average Compensation is used to calculate your pension amount.

Total Assessable Compensation

What Is It?

The basis for the amount your employer pays in Assessments. Specifically, your employer must pay 18% of your Total Assessable Compensation, which is the sum of the following annualized amounts:*

  • Base salary (excluding housing) and scheduled taxable cash payments; plus
  • Cash housing allowance and/or utilities; plus
  • Employer contributions to a qualified and/or non-qualified plan; plus
  • One-time payments (applies to month when paid); plus
  • The value of employer-provided housing, which equals 30% of the sum of the four bullets above. (However, if the sum of the four bullets above is less than the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation, the value of employer-provided housing equals 30% of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation.)

* Any form of severance (including pay continuation following a termination of employment) should be excluded in all cases. In addition, employer-paid tuition for dependents is not assessable unless it is taxable.

Note that if the only type of compensation that your employer provides is housing, then your Total Assessable Compensation equals 30% of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation.

Why Is It Important?

Both Highest Average Compensation and Credited Service are dependent on your Total Assessable Compensation. For each month that your employer pays the full Assessment due, you will earn one month of Credited Service, and your Total Assessable Compensation for that month may be counted toward your Highest Average Compensation.

Please Note

  • Your Total Assessable Compensation is taken into consideration when determining your Highest Average Compensation only if and when Assessments are paid in full.
  • If you personally pay for Assessments, the compensation level on which you pay personal Assessments in full also will be taken into consideration when determining your Highest Average Compensation.
  • CPF reserves the right to request documentation, such as a Form W-2 or a letter of agreement, at any time to support the amount of an individual’s Total Assessable Compensation that is reported to us.

How Benefits Are Calculated

Pension Fast Facts
Credited Service & Your Pension
01:44
Pension Fast Facts
Credited Service & MSHP
02:29
Pension Fast Facts
Highest Average Compensation
01:50
Pension Fast Facts
Total Assessable Compensation
02:09

Vesting

Vesting means you are entitled to receive a pension benefit from the Clergy Pension Plan upon your retirement. You become vested when you earn five years of Credited Service or turn age 65 or older while an Active participant.

If you participated in The Episcopal Church Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan or the Staff Retirement Plan of The Church Pension Fund and Affiliates, your vesting service under those plans will count under the Clergy Pension Plan. You must provide a written request to CPF, along with any required supporting documentation, in order to receive vesting credit.

Vesting

When You Can Begin Receiving Benefits

You can begin receiving your vested pension benefit at the following point in time:

Early Retirement
At or after age 55
Normal Retirement
At or after age 65
Mandatory Church Retirement Age
At age 72*

* If you are vested and stop working in the Church prior to age 72 and have not yet retired under the Clergy Pension Plan, the Internal Revenue Service requires that you must begin receiving your pension by no later than April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn age 70½ (or, if later, by April 1 of the year following the year in which you stop working in the Church).

When You Can Begin Receiving Benefits