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Surviving Spouse Benefits

The Clergy Pension Plan provides an automatic survivor’s benefit to your eligible surviving spouse equal to 50% of your monthly retirement benefit. The benefit is paid to your eligible surviving spouse whether you die before or after you retire.

Who Is an Eligible Spouse?

Generally, an eligible spouse is your lawful spouse at the time of your retirement or death, if you die before you retire.

  • Eligibility may be impacted by the date and length of your marriage, a divorce, and death. See more in Marriage & Divorce.

UPDATE: Retirement Benefits Available for Same-Gender Spouses

As you know, if you are legally married to a same-gender spouse, your spouse is eligible for full spousal benefits if you earn at least three years of credited service while married.

Acknowledging that same-gender marriage was only recently recognized nationally, and also in response to General Convention Resolution 2015-D047, we are relaxing eligibility requirements for same-gender spouses until December 31, 2017. Specifically, whether you are active or retired, we are allowing same-gender spouses to receive full (or partial) spousal benefits if you are legally married and can present an Affidavit of Committed Relationship by December 31, 2017, to show your spouse’s eligibility for benefits. Same-gender surviving spouses of retired participants may also be eligible for spousal benefits under certain circumstances.

If you have already submitted an affidavit and made a spousal benefit election, you do not need to submit another affidavit, and the election that you made will continue to apply. If, however, you previously submitted an affidavit and were not eligible to make a spousal benefit election, please call Client Services to discuss your specific situation.

We are making every effort to communicate this opportunity to everyone. Please share this information with those you think might benefit from it. Please call the Client Services team at (866) 802-6333, Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET (excluding holidays) for more information, or email us at benefits@cpg.org.

 

If You Die Before You Retire1

Your eligible spouse may receive the following benefits:

  • Monthly Pension Benefit – The amount of the monthly pension benefit is determined by your age at your death. If you:
  • Have not reached your earliest retirement age, your eligible surviving spouse will receive 50% of the projected benefit had you lived and remained in active service to age 65.
  • Have reached your earliest retirement age, your eligible surviving spouse will receive either 50% of your benefit you could have earned had you lived and remained in active service to age 65, or 100% of the benefit for which you were eligible, whichever is greater.

This rule applies to active, deemed active, and vested inactive participants in the Clergy Pension Plan.

  • Lump Sum Death Benefit - The Lump Sum Death Benefit is $5,000 and paid to your eligible surviving spouse if you are an active participant when you die or, if you are inactive when you die, you earned at least 25 years of Credited Service (CS).
  • Life Insurance - A life insurance benefit may be paid to your surviving spouse if you died while you were in active service or have at least 25 years of Credited Service (CS).
    • The life insurance benefit is equal to four times your total compensation with a maximum value of $100,000.
    • You can name beneficiaries other than your spouse to your life insurance. In that instance, your spouse will not be eligible to receive your life insurance benefit.

    See Life Insurance for more information.

  • Resettlement Benefit- A Resettlement Benefit is provided to your eligible surviving spouse. It is equal to 12 times the monthly retirement benefit you would have received, up to a maximum of $20,000. The minimum benefit is equal to $100 for each year of your Credited Service projected to age 65, up to a maximum of 20 years.
  • Other Benefits The Clergy Pension Plan provides additional benefits, including a Christmas bonus and discretionary cost of living increases for eligible surviving spouses.

If You Die After You Retire1

Your eligible spouse may receive:

  • Monthly Pension Benefit – the Pension Plan offers several payment options that allow you to choose the survivor’s benefit option that fits your circumstances. The option you select will impact the monthly payment you receive during your lifetime and the amount your surviving spouse will receive after you die.
    • You can choose to have your spouse receive 50% of your monthly benefit. This option is automatically selected for you, unless you change it at retirement.
    • You can increase the percentage of your benefit that will be paid to your spouse after your death to 60%, 75%, 85% or 100% of the benefit that you will receive. Selecting one of these options will decrease the monthly benefit you receive during your lifetime.
    • You can select to reduce the benefit to 25% of your monthly benefit, which will increase your monthly benefit slightly during your lifetime. Your spouse must consent to this option.
    • You can select the Zero Option Adjustment, which eliminates the surviving spouse benefit. This option will increase your monthly benefit during your lifetime. Your spouse must consent to this option.

If you choose to select an option other than the 50% automatic option, the choice must be made at retirement and cannot be changed once selected.

  • Life Insurance – A life insurance benefit may be paid to your surviving spouse if you retired directly from active service or have at least 25 years of Credited Service (CS).

    • The life insurance benefit is equal to four times your Highest Average Compensation (HAC), with a maximum of $50,000 and a minimum of $10,000.

    • You can name beneficiaries other than your spouse to your life insurance. In that instance, your spouse will not be eligible to receive your life insurance benefit.

    See Life Insurance for more information.

  • Other Benefits – The Clergy Pension Plan provides additional benefits, including a Christmas bonus and discretionary cost of living increases for eligible surviving spouses.

1There may be additional restrictions regarding eligibility for survivor’s benefits. For more information, see the Guide to the Clergy Pension Plan.

Pensions Disclaimer

Right Rail

Clergy Pension Plan Revisions

The Church Pension Fund has announced revisions to the Clergy Pension Plan and related benefits expected to be effective January 1, 2018.

Learn more

If you are planning on retiring in 2017 or 2018, contact CPG to schedule a retirement discussion at
(866) 802-6333
Monday - Friday
8:30AM - 8:00PM ET
(excluding holidays).