Left Navigation

 

Starting Out

Starting Out

The Clergy Pension Plan is designed to support you in different ministries you may select throughout your career. Read through the following Starting Out, Mid-Career, and Late Career sections to discover the flexibility you will enjoy and prerequisites necessary to build your pension benefit and maintain access to other clergy benefits provided by CPF.


I am just ordained

Welcome!

When you find regular employment, you will be eligible to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan (the Plan), which, in turn, will give you access to other clergy benefits, such as life insurance coverage and disability benefits, provided by The Church Pension Fund (CPF). In order to become a participant in the Plan, you must be “regularly employed” for five or more consecutive months and compensated by either an organization under the authority of the Episcopal Church or through an approved Extension of Ministry.

Read more...

To be considered “regularly employed,” you must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have a Letter of Agreement or contract of employment;
  • Be duly called by a bishop, vestry or rector;
  • Have a formal title indicating a substantial ongoing relationship;
  • Be issued an IRS Form W-2; or
  • Scheduled to work 20+ hours per week

If your position lasts for less than five months, and you have a letter of agreement directing the payment of assessments for the services that you will provide, you can participate in the plan. Participation for short term service of less than five months is optional.

Download information on eligibility.

I just landed my first job

Congratulations!

Provided your position meets the criteria noted in I am just ordained, you will be enrolled in the Clergy Pension Plan by your employer. (Please note that your ordination must be recorded by the Recorder of Ordinations and your employer needs to provide CPG with information about your employment.)

Read more...

Once you become a participant in the Clergy Pension Plan and your first month of assessments is fully paid, you will be Active under the plan and may be eligible for the following benefits:

Total Assessable Compensation
Now that you have income, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your Total Assessable Compensation (TAC). Your pension and other benefits over your career will be based on it. TAC* is the annual sum of:

  1. Base salary (excluding housing) and scheduled taxable cash payments;
  2. Cash housing allowance and/or utilities;
  3. Employer contributions to a qualified or non-qualified plan;
  4. One-time payments; and
  5. The value of employer-provided housing, which equals 30% of the sum of #1 through #4 above, or, if higher, 30% of the Clergy Pension Plan's Hypothetical Minimum Compensation (HMC).
    1. The HMC is expected to be $18,000 per year beginning in 2018.

* Any form of severance (including pay continuation following a termination of employment) should be excluded in all cases.

Clergy whose only compensation is employer-provided housing will now be able to participate in the Plan if they meet the eligibility requirements. Their TAC will be 30% of the HMC. Employers must pay assessments on this amount.

Certain key changes under the pension plan revision include:

  • Cash housing allowance will be assessable in all situations.
  • Severance payments will not be included in TAC.
  • Employer-paid tuition for dependents that is not taxable income will no longer be assessable.
  • The assessable value of housing will be the same whether you receive only employer-provided housing or both room and board.
  • If you have multiple employers, assessments for employer-provided housing will no longer be allocated between employers but only to the employer providing housing

The Clergy Pension Plan uses your TAC to determine your pension assessment and, if full assessments are paid, whether you earn Credited Service (CS) toward pension and life insurance benefits and the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy. In addition, TAC determines your pension benefit and preretirement life insurance benefit, which is calculated at six times your TAC up to a maximum benefit of $150,000.

Download information on TAC.

Compensation - Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP)

If you participate in the RSVP, compensation for the purpose of calculating your own contributions is defined as your gross salary plus one-time cash payments, excluding severance. It does not include any cash housing allowance, employer-provided housing, or employer contributions to a qualified or non-qualified plan.

If your employer contributes to your RSVP, compensation for the purpose of calculating your employer’s contributions includes:

  1. Base salary (excluding housing) and scheduled taxable cash payments;
  2. Cash housing allowance and/or utilities;
  3. One-time payments; and
  4. The value of employer-provided housing, which equals 30% of the sum of #1 through #3 above, or, if higher, 30% of the Clergy Pension Plan's Hypothetical Minimum Compensation (HMC).
    1. The HMC is expected to be $18,000 per year beginning in 2018.

* Any form of severance (including pay continuation following a termination of employment) should be excluded in all cases.

Credited Service
Credited Service (CS) is used to determine your eligibility for pension and life insurance benefits and the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy. Your employer pays an 18% assessment each month to The Church Pension Fund based on 1/12th your TAC. If your employer does not pay your assessments or you have a break in service and do not pay personal assessments, your eligibility for the pension and life insurance benefits and Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy may be affected.

You will earn a full month of CS for pension and life insurance benefits when:

  • You meet the eligibility requirements for “regularly employed” and
  • Your employer pays full assessments on 1/12th of your TAC

You will earn a full month of CS for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy if your TAC is equal to or above the monthly HMC (expected to be $1,500 per month in 2018) and full assessments are paid on 1/12th of your TAC.

  • If your TAC is below the monthly HMC, you will not earn CS for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy. However, you have the option to open a make-up account and pay personal assessments based on the difference between 1/12th of the HMC and 1/12th of your TAC in order to earn a month of CS for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy.

If you have a break in service, you have the option to pay personal assessments for up to 24 months from the start of your break in service in order to continue earning CS.

Download information on Credited Service.

Vesting
You will be vested in the Clergy Pension Plan after earning five years (60 months) of CS or on or after attaining age 65 while Active under the Plan, whichever occurs first.

  • If you are vested, but have less than 10 years (120 months) of CS for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy when you retire, you will have unsubsidized access to the Medicare Supplement Health Plans.

Download information on vesting.

See I am just ordained for eligibility to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan.

I want to understand the types of participant statuses

The benefits you are eligible for under the Clergy Pension Plan are determined by your participant status. The statuses are Active, Inactive, and Retired.

Read more...

Active
You are considered Active, if you:

  • Are regularly employed, have earned at least 1 month of CS, and your assessments are no more than 24 months overdue;
  • Are not regularly employed and no more than 6 months have elapsed following your termination of employment (the six-month grace period);
  • If the six-month grace period has expired, have earned at least one month of CS through the payment of personal assessments and your assessments are current;
  • Have earned 25+ years of CS; or
  • Are classified as Deemed Active immediately prior to the effective date of the revised Clergy Pension Plan. You are considered Deemed Active if you are not Active but were retirement-eligible on the day you ceased earning CS.

Inactive
You are considered Inactive if you:

  • Are regularly employed, but your assessments are more than 24 months overdue; or
  • Are not employed by the Church, the six-month grace period has expired, and your personal assessment payments are not current.

If you are no longer employed and the six-month grace period has expired, your personal assessment payments must be paid when due. There is no grace period for personal assessment payments. If your personal assessments are not paid when due, you will become Inactive immediately.

Inactive participants are not eligible for certain benefits available to Active participants. These include:

  • The preretirement survivor benefit if not vested or, if vested, projection of CS when calculating the preretirement survivor benefit
  • Eligibility for short term disability and long term disability benefits (STD and LTD)
  • Resettlement benefit
  • Group life Insurance benefit
  • Child benefit (unless you are vested)

You can return to Active status if you earn at least 1 month of CS upon your return to active ministry. Once you earn 25 years of CS, however, you will always be Active under the Clergy Pension Plan whether or not assessments are paid.

Retired
You are considered Retired if you have begun receiving your retirement benefit and have not returned to active ministry under the terms of the Clergy Pension Plan.

Download information on Participant Status.

I am a late ordinand concerned about my pension

The Episcopal Church welcomes ordinands at different phases of adult life. The Clergy Pension Plan offers participation opportunities for clergy who are ordained early in their career, at mid-life, or later in life as a second career.

Read more...

  • Once you are “regularly employed,” you’ll be vested after earning five years of CS, or at age 65 if you are Active under the Plan, whichever comes first.
  • While you are Active, you will be eligible for a life insurance benefit, projected CS when calculating your preretirement survivor benefit, and disability benefits.
  • Once you are vested, upon retirement you will have access to unsubsidized Medicare Supplement Health Plans offered by The Episcopal Church Medical Trust, survivor benefits, a life insurance benefit (if you are Active at retirement), the Christmas benefit, and a resettlement benefit (if you are Active at retirement). If you earn at least 10 years of eligible CS, you will be eligible for a Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy.

See Fact Sheets for information about eligibility, participant status, and vesting.

At retirement, if the present value of your pension benefit — including the value of the Christmas benefit and the value of the default survivor option — is $20,000 or less, you will receive a lump-sum payment in lieu of a lifetime stream of small monthly pension payments. The lump-sum payment will be paid directly to you or may be rolled over to a qualified retirement plan or IRA (subject to IRS requirements).

  • Your survivors will be eligible to receive the retiree life insurance benefit and child benefit, if eligible
  • You will have unsubsidized access to the Medicare Supplement Health Plans and, if eligible, the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy
  • If you are eligible for a resettlement benefit, it will be paid to you as a separate lump-sum amount

Download information on lump-sum payments.

 

Pensions Disclaimer

Right Rail

What do I need to do?

  • Have you used the revised PlanAhead for Retirement® online calculator?
  • Are you planning on retiring in 2017 or 2018?
  • Are your beneficiaries up to date?

Throughout the year, we will be ​posting reminders and action items on our More Information page. Be sure to check it out during the year.

View the changes

We've prepared Fact Sheets that highlight the current provisions and the revisions to the Clergy Pension Plan. 

  • Preretirement Benefits
  • LTD/STD Disability
  • Credited Service
  • Compensation
  • Participant Status
  • Survivor Benefits
  • Child Benefits
  • Marriage & Divorce
  • Early Retirement

and more...

Click here to view all the Fact Sheets