Church Pension Group | Working after Retirement

Working after Retirement

Working While Pensioned

If you are under age 72, retire under the Clergy Pension Plan, and work in The Episcopal Church in a position for which Assessments would be mandated, you may continue to receive your pension only if the following Working While Pensioned rules are met:

  • During a 12-month period, which begins when you start work after you have retired, the compensation and/or housing that you receive (except for temporary housing as explained below) cannot exceed a threshold amount equal to 50% of the U.S. median compensation for full-time clergy. The 2024 threshold is $44,200.
    • Temporary housing can consist of a cash housing allowance, utilities, and/or employer-provided housing that, in any case, is (1) expected to be provided for 24 months or less and (2) not your permanent residence or used toward your permanent residence. The value of temporary housing is excluded when determining whether your compensation is above the threshold.
  • You cannot work for the same employer from which you retired, regardless of the amount of compensation that you will receive.

If you do not meet all of these criteria, your pension benefits will be suspended, and you will be considered to have returned to active ministry. You may, however, apply for an exception to the rules so that you continue to receive your pension. You must meet the following requirements in order to receive an exception:

  • Before beginning work, you must obtain the approval of the bishop (or, in the bishop’s absence, the Ecclesiastical Authority) of the diocese where you will be working.
  • If you are age 65 or older, your employer must comply with the Medicare Secondary Payer rules.
  • If you will be working for the same employer from which you retired,
    • you must serve in a capacity with limited scope and remuneration (in each case, as compared to all compensated Church work prior to retirement), and
    • if you are under age 65, you must demonstrate that you had a bona fide severance from employment prior to your return to work.

CPF must approve your exception request. The total exception period(s) cannot exceed two years. You may apply for one exception for two years, or you may apply for multiple exceptions for shorter periods, as long as the total period for exceptions is not more than two years over your lifetime. Exceptions granted prior to January 1, 2018, will not count toward this two-year limit. To request an exception, please contact our Client Services group.

There are no restrictions if you return to work outside The Episcopal Church. In addition, if you are age 72, which is the Mandatory Church Retirement Age, or older, there are no restrictions on returning to work in The Episcopal Church because you are not eligible to earn any additional Credited Service under the Clergy Pension Plan.

If You Return to Active Ministry

If you return to active ministry before reaching age 72, your pension will be suspended, and your employer will be required to pay Assessments on your Total Assessable Compensation.

Any pension benefits that have been paid after you returned to active ministry, plus interest, must be repaid to the Clergy Pension Plan or deducted from future pension payments, at CPF’s sole discretion. If full Assessments are paid, you will earn additional Credited Service, and your total pension benefit may be higher.

When you end your active ministry again (or “re-retire” under the Clergy Pension Plan), a new pension benefit will be calculated, using

  • your original pension benefit in the form of payment and the same beneficiary originally elected at your initial retirement, plus
  • any discretionary cost-of-living increases that may have been granted on your original pension benefit during your return to active ministry, plus
  • any additional pension benefit based on the Credited Service and compensation earned during your return to active ministry.

You may elect a separate form of payment and a different beneficiary for the additional earned pension benefit, subject to any required consent from your eligible spouse. If the present value of your additional pension benefit is $20,000 or less when you retire again, it will be paid to you in a single lump sum payment.