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Common Questions

Top Questions

How do I access my Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) account?

To access your account, go to the Retirement Savings Plan page of our website.

How much will my pension be?

The amount of your pension will depend upon:

To request an estimate of your pension, contact Client Services at
(866) 802-6333
Monday - Friday
8:30AM - 8:00PM ET, excluding holidays

When do I become vested?

You must accumulate five years of Credited Service in the Clergy Pension Plan to be vested in your retirement benefits.

What happens to my pension if I'm between jobs?

If you are between jobs, you may continue to earn one year of credited service by paying personal assessments to The Church Pension Fund. Your assessments would be based on either your last full-time compensation or your highest average compensation, whichever is lower.

What if I die while I'm in active service?

If you die…

  • Before your earliest retirement age: your surviving spouse's benefit is 50% of the projected benefit you would have received at age 65.
  • While an active clergy member and eligible for retirement: your survivor receives either 50% of the benefit you would have received, had you lived to age 65, or 100% of the retirement benefit for which you were eligible at the time of your death, whichever is greater.

For details, please visit Surviving Spouse Benefits Before Your Retirement.

Was a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) granted for 2018?

The CPF Board of Trustees has approved a 2.0% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to the monthly pension benefit for beneficiaries of The Church Pension Fund Clergy Pension Plan, effective January 1, 2018. Please note, the increase will be prorated for those who retired with a 2017 retirement date.

Read more.

Other Questions

What's a defined benefit plan?

The Church Pension Fund is different from a 401(k) and other "defined contribution" plans. In your "defined benefit" plan:

  • Your benefits are assured, even if financial markets decline. Retirement benefits are determined when you retire and increase whenever cost of living adjustments are approved.
  • Contributions are pooled. Your assessments are pooled with the assessments for all paid clergy employment by an Episcopal Church institution.
  • Benefits are comprehensive. The Church Pension Fund provides Life Insurance, Disability and other benefits designed to maintain your financial security. These benefits are available throughout your active ministry and retirement.
  • Benefits are portable within the church. You can keep your benefits if you switch jobs within the Episcopal Church.
  • Clergy participate automatically. Ordained deacons, priests, bishops and others who are canonically resident in the Episcopal Church are automatically enrolled.
  • Deacons can participate. You are eligible to participate in the clergy pension plan as soon as you are ordained to the diaconate.

What is vesting?

Vesting is the point at which benefits have been earned and secured for future payment. A member of the clergy must accumulate five years of Credited Service in the Clergy Pension Plan to be vested in his or her retirement benefits.

What happens to my pension if I choose to perform secular work?

If you perform purely secular work, you can pay personal assessments for up to one year to The Church Pension Fund. Your assessments would be based on your last full-time compensation or Highest Average Compensation, whichever is less.

My spouse and I are both clergy members. How are our pensions affected?

If both spouses are ordained clergy, they each build a personal record of credited service with The Church Pension Fund, and will each receive a pension after retirement. They may also each qualify for the surviving spouse benefit.

What happens to my pension if I choose to perform military service?

The Church Pension Fund has a special agreement with the Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Armed Services and Federal Ministries. If you serve the church in the military, please contact us for details.

What happens to my pension if I serve in another province of the Anglican Communion?

If part of your service to the church takes place in another part of the Anglican communion, you may still be vested in the Church Pension Plan if you have earned a total of five (5) years of combined credited service. At least two (2) must be based on participation in the The Episcopal Church's Clergy Pension Plan (the U.S. plan). Your benefits from the fund will be based only on your participation in the U.S. plan.

Can I choose another beneficiary if I elected the Joint & Survivor Option and my spouse dies first?

No. After you choose a beneficiary when you retire, you cannot choose another. However, if you remarry in retirement, you may purchase a survivor's benefit for your new spouse by permanently reducing your lifetime benefits to reflect the actuarial cost your your survivor's benefit. This election is irrevocable and must be made within 180 days of your marriage.

Am I still eligible for the lump sum death benefit after I retire?

No. The lump sum death benefit is only available to active clergy.

Are the cost-of-living increases guaranteed like those from Social Security?

No. The Board of Trustees grants cost of living increases at its discretion. This decision is made annually and communicated to all plan participants by mid-December.

What if I die as an inactive participant in the Clergy Pension Plan?

If you die after earning five (5) years of Credited Service (CS), but before you are eligible for retirement, and have been inactive in the Plan before your death, your surviving spouse or other named beneficiaries will receive a benefit equal to 50% of the pension benefit you would have received at Normal Retirement, based on your actual CS and Highest Average Compensation (HAC) at the time of death.

If you die after earning five (5) years of CS and after you are eligible for retirement and are inactive at the time of death, your surviving spouse or other named beneficiaries will receive a benefit equal to the pension benefit you would have received if you had retired just prior to your death and had elected the 100% joint and survivor annuity option.

What if I die while receiving a Disability Retirement Benefit?

If you die before age 65 while receiving a Disability Retirement Benefit, your eligible surviving spouse or other named beneficiaries will receive a pre-retirement survivor’s benefit. This pre-retirement survivor’s benefit is generally equal to 50% of the pension benefit you would have received at your normal retirement date based on your projected Credited Service (CS) to age 65 and your Highest Average Compensation (HAC).

For details on pre-retirement benefits, please visit Survivor’s Benefits.

Can I name a trust or my estate as my beneficiary?

You can name a trust or estate as your beneficiary in case you die before you retire. However, you must name a spouse or other person as a beneficiary when you retire.

If you choose to name a trust or estate, it will receive a lump sum survivor's benefit in the amount of five times your annual benefit.

How else can I save for retirement?

As a participant in the Clergy Pension Plan, you do not contribute to your pension. Therefore, The Church Pension Fund offers additional retirement savings options. The Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) allows you to contribute a portion of your compensation to a retirement account. You may also purchase Church Life Annuities and IRAs through Church Life Insurance Corporation.

My claim for a retirement benefit has been denied. What are my next steps?

If you believe that you have been denied a benefit that you are due under the Clergy Pension Plan, you have the option to file an appeal.  Download information on the claims and appeals process.

 

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