Am I Eligible for the Clergy Pension Plan?
The Clergy Pension Plan covers all ordained bishops, priests, and deacons:
- Who work for an Episcopal employer for at least three consecutive months and earn at least $200 a month, (unless you are 67 or older at ordination)
- Who are canonically resident in a domestic diocese of the Episcopal Church, and
- Whose assessments are paid or waived.
If you unable to find a position in the Church after ordination to the diaconate, you can pay assessments for a period of up to one (1) year and receive Credited Service (CS) under the Clergy Pension Plan and be eligible for other benefits.
If you are age 67 or older at ordination, you are not eligible to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan because you will not meet the five-year vesting requirement before the mandatory retirement age of 72.
When Am I Eligible to Receive Benefits?
Some of your benefits are available once assessments begin to be paid on your behalf. These include:
Your monthly retirement benefit is earned and secured for payment when you are vested in the Clergy Pension Plan, which occurs after you have earned five (5) years of Credited Service in the Clergy Pension Plan. The amount of your monthly benefit is determined based on your years of CS and Highest Average Compensation (HAC).
The key terms to know when reviewing the Clergy Pension Plan are:
- Credited Service (CS) is the period of years and months for which full assessments have been paid on your behalf.
- Highest Average Compensation (HAC) is generally the average of the highest-paid seven out of eight consecutive 12-month periods during your ministry.
- Vesting is the point at which your monthly retirement benefits in the Clergy Pension Plan have been earned and secured for payment upon retirement. The vesting period for the Clergy Pension Plan is five (5) years of Credited Service.
- Assessments are the payments made by employers to the Clergy Pension Plan to provide the funding for and secure a cleric's benefits. They are calculated as a percentage of your Total Assessable Compensation. There are some exceptions to the requirement that employers pay the assessments based on special circumstances.