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Understand Your Benefit

The monthly benefit paid by the Pension Plan is calculated using a formula based on your Highest Average Compensation (HAC) and years of Credited Service (CS). The formula or the amount of your retirement benefit may then be modified based on:

  • The retirement option you select, such as early retirement or disability retirement
  • The payment option you select

The standard formulas and examples of the calculations can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Normal Retirement

For clergy who are eligible for pension benefits, normal retirement:

Remember: Credited Service is not the actual amount of years you have worked for the Church, but rather the number of years assessments have been paid on your behalf.

Pension Benefit Calculation

If your HAC is greater than or equal to $10,000, your pension benefit is calculated as:

HAC x 1.6% x CS
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x CS
------------------------------------------
= Total Annual Retirement Benefit

If your HAC is equal to or less than $10,000, your pension benefit is calculated as:

HAC x 2.75% x CS
------------------------------------------
= Total Annual Retirement Benefit

Example

When the Rev. K. Boater retires at age 65, with 40 years of CS and HAC of $50,000, his pension benefit will be calculated as:

50,000 x 0.016 x 40
+
10,000 x 0.0115 x 40
------------------------------------------
= $36,600 per year

Please note: This amount will be adjusted based on the payment option Fr. Boater selects at retirement for a survivor's benefit, if any, for his spouse.  For the Payment options available for surviving spouses, see Surviving Spouse Benefits.

The information on this page relates only to clergy who are canonically resident in the United States. If you are canonically resident in a non-domestic diocese, please contact Client Services for details about your benefit.

Standard Early Retirement

For clergy who are eligible for pension benefits and have less than 30 years of Credited Service, early retirement:

Remember: Credited Service is not the actual amount of years you have worked for the Church, but rather the number of years that assessments have been paid on your behalf.

Pension Benefit Calculation

The calculation for early retirement benefits is completed in two steps:

First, your normal retirement benefit is calculated:

HAC x 1.6% x CS
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x CS
------------------------------------------
= Annual Normal Retirement Benefit

Second, your annual normal retirement benefit is reduced by .2% (two tenths of one percent) for each month you are short of age 65.

Example

The Rev. J. Fisher Fisher retires when he reaches age 62, with 25 years of CS and HAC of $60,000. He is 36 months short of normal retirement.

Step 1 - His annual normal retirement benefit is calculated:

$60,000 x 1.6% x 25 = $24,000
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x 25 = $2,875
------------------------------------------
= Annual Normal Retirement Benefit = $26,875

Step 2 – His annual normal retirement benefit is then reduced by .2% for each month he is short of age 65 (in this example, .2% x 36 months = 7.2%):

  • Annual normal retirement benefit = $26,875
  • Reduction (7.2% of $26,875) = $1,935
  • Annual early retirement benefit = $24,940

Please note: This amount will be adjusted based on the payment option Fr. Fisher selects at retirement for a survivor’s benefit, if any, for his spouse. For the payment options available for surviving spouses, see Surviving Spouse Benefits.

The information on this page relates only to clergy who are canonically resident in the United States. If you are canonically resident in a non-domestic diocese, please contact Client Services for details about your benefit.

30-year Early Retirement

For clergy with at least 30 years of Credited Service (CS), early retirement:

  • Begins on or after age 55
  • Pays a monthly benefit calculated based on your Highest Average Compensation (HAC) and years of Credited Service (CS), with no adjustment for early retirement.
  • Includes an additional monthly “bridge benefit” payable only to the cleric and only until age 65

Remember: Credited Service is not the actual amount of years you have worked, but rather the number of years that assessments have been paid on your behalf.

Pension Benefit Calculation

The calculation for 30-year early retirement benefits is completed in two steps:

First, your normal retirement benefit is calculated:

HAC x 1.6% x CS
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x CS
------------------------------------------
= Annual Normal Retirement Benefit

Second, the "bridge benefit" is added to your annual normal retirement benefit (but only until age 65):

  • Before age 62, the monthly bridge benefit is $17.50 for each year of Credited Service
  • Between ages 62 and 65, the monthly bridge benefit is $8.75 for each year of Credited Service
  • At age 65, the monthly bridge benefit ends

Example

When the Rev. B. Gardner retires at age 56, she has 31 years of CS and HAC of $60,000.

Step 1 - Her annual normal retirement benefit is calculated:

$60,000 x 1.6% x 31 = $29,760
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x 31 = $3,565
------------------------------------------
= Annual Normal retirement Benefit = $33,325

Step 2 – Her "bridge benefit" is determined based on her age and added to the annual normal retirement benefit.

  • Annual bridge benefit
    • Until age 62 (6 years) = $17.50 x 31 years of CS x 12 months = $6,510
    • From ages 62 to 65 (3 years) = $8.75 x 31 years of CS x 12 months = $3,255
    • Age 65 and up = no bridge benefit
  • Annual 30-year early retirement benefit
    • $33,325 + $6,510 = $39,835 until age 62
    • $33,325 + $3,255 = $36,580 from ages 62 to 65
    • $33,325 from age 65 and up

Please note: The amount of the early retirement benefit will be adjusted based on the payment option Mother Gardner selects at retirement for a survivor’s benefit, if any, for her spouse. For the payment options available for surviving spouses, see Surviving Spouse Benefits. In addition, the bridge benefit is payable only Mother Gardner and not to her surviving spouse or beneficiary.

The information on this page relates only to clergy who are canonically resident in the United States. If you are canonically resident in a non-domestic diocese, please contact Client Services for details about your benefit.

Minimum Retirement

You may receive at least the minimum pension if you:

  • Serve the Church in low-paying positions for many years.
  • Retire with your assessments fully paid.

Benefits

  • The longer your Credited Service, the higher your benefit.
  • Available only if you serve at least 80% of your compensated ministry in the domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church.
  • May be available to surviving spouses.

Contact Clergy Pension Services at (866) 802-6333, Monday - Friday, 8:30AM to 8PM ET (excluding holidays) for more information.

The information on this page relates only to clergy serving in the United States. If you serve in a non-domestic diocese, please contact Client Services for details about your benefit.

Disability Retirement

Eligibility

If you become seriously disabled before you retire or reach age 65 (whichever is earlier), you may be eligible for a disability retirement benefit under the Clergy Pension Plan.

Your physician, your bishop, and Liberty Mutual*, which has been designated as The Church Pension Fund Medical Board for the Clergy Pension Plan, must agree that your disability is total and continuing and that you are unable to work. Your case may be reviewed annually until you reach age 65. If your condition improves after one year to the point where you can return to work part-time, you may be eligible to receive a reduced disability retirement benefit, subject to the approval of your bishop and Liberty Mutual. If your condition has not improved by the time you reach age 65, normal retirement benefits will commence and continue for life.

How Your Disability Benefit Is Determined

The disability retirement benefit is calculated using the Normal Retirement formula which is based on your Highest Average Compensation (HAC) and Credited Service (CS), provided you are eligible. It also may provide an enhanced benefit to supplement the basic disability retirement benefit until age 65. Please note that the disability retirement benefit is payable only to you, not to your surviving spouse. See Survivor’s Benefits for information on the benefits available to eligible surviving spouses.

Basic Disability Benefit

  • If you are active when you become disabled, the basic disability benefit is determined by the formula for Normal Retirement, based on your Highest Average Compensation (HAC) and Credited Service (CS) projected to age 65.
  • If you are inactive and vested when you become disabled, the basic disability benefit is based on your HAC and CS earned up to the date you stopped being an active participant in the Clergy Pension Plan.

If you are still receiving a disability retirement benefit at the time you reach age 65, your disability retirement benefit will be reclassified as a normal retirement benefit. At that time, you will be allowed to select a payment option for your surviving spouse, and the amount of your normal retirement benefit will be adjusted based on the payment option you select.

Disability Enhancement

If you are an active participant at the time of your disability, you may be eligible to receive a disability enhancement. If you qualify, the basic disability benefit plus the enhancement generally will equal 70% of your total compensation prior to the onset of disability. When you reach age 65, the disability enhancement will cease.

Bridge Benefit

If you are receiving a basic disability benefit from the Clergy Pension Plan, you may also receive a monthly “bridge benefit” to help cover the cost of medical expenses. This monthly bridge benefit equals $17.50 times the number of years of earned plus projected CS. The bridge benefit is paid until you become Medicare-eligible at age 65 or earlier, if you become eligible for Medicare before reaching age 65.

Example of Disability Retirement Calculation

The Rev. M. Runner was injured in an accident at age 56, with 20 years CS and HAC of $50,000. He was an active participant in the Clergy Pension Plan at the time of his accident. His physician has determined that he has a total and continuing disability and will no longer be able to work. His bishop and Liberty Mutual have agreed with his diagnosis.

Because he was an active participant at the time he became disabled, Father Runner will receive nine (9) additional years of CS, as if he was an active participant to age 65, meaning that a total of 29 years of CS will be used to determine his basic disability benefit. Let’s assume that his HAC of $50,000 is also his current income and that he does not become eligible for Medicare before age 65.

Father Runner's disability retirement benefit will be calculated as follows.

First, his annual basic disability benefit is calculated using the formula for normal retirement:

$50,000 x 1.6% x 29 = $23,200
+
$10,000 x 1.15% x 29 = $3,335
------------------------------------------
Annual Basic Disability Benefit (including projected Credited Service) = $26,535

The annual basic disability benefit is adjusted as follows:

  Before age 65 Age 65 and above
Step 1 - Annual Basic Benefit $26,535 $26,535
Step 2 - Annual Disability Enhancement
  • 70% x $50,000 = $35,000
  • Annual basic disability benefit = $26,535
  • Annual disability enhancement = $35,000 - $26,535 = $8,465 (paid until age 65)
$8,465 $0
Step 3 - Annual Bridge Benefit

Annual bridge benefit

  • From ages 56 to 65 = $17.50 x 29 years of CS x 12 months = $6,090
$6,090 $0
Annual disability retirement benefit $41,000 $26,535

Allsup

The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be daunting and confusing. To assist with this process, the Church Pension Fund has contracted with Allsup to help you apply for benefits, at no cost to you, once you have been approved by Liberty Mutual to receive a disability retirement benefit. Access to Allsup is also available to assist your spouse and dependent children.

Applying for Disability Retirement

To apply for this benefit, you or your designated representative should call Client Services at (866) 802-6333, Monday through Friday, 8:30AM - 8:00PM ET (excluding holidays). 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.

The information on this page relates only to clergy who are canonically resident in the United States. If you are canonically resident in a non-domestic diocese, please contact Client Services for details about your benefit.

*The Liberty Mutual Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Mutual)

Mandatory Retirement

You are required to retire upon reaching age 72 and to begin to collect your pension.

Surviving Spouse Benefit Options after Retirement

The Clergy Pension Plan offers options to provide benefits for your eligible surviving spouse, depending on your anticipated needs after you retire. The option you select will impact the monthly pension benefit paid during your lifetime and the benefit paid to your surviving spouse after you die. The options are selected at retirement, and cannot be changed.

  • The standard benefit is a monthly benefit of 50% of the monthly pension benefit at the time of your death, paid to your surviving spouse for his or her lifetime. This option is automatically selected, unless you choose another option.
  • You can choose to increase the benefit paid to your surviving spouse to 60%, 75%, 85% or 100% of your monthly pension benefit. Choosing one of these options will decrease the amount of your monthly benefit during your lifetime.
  • With your spouse's consent, you can decrease the survivor's benefit to 25% or eliminate it (zero option), which will result in an increase of your monthly pension benefit during your lifetime. If you choose this option, your spouse is still eligible for the Medicare Supplement subsidy.

There are additional options and restrictions that apply with regard to marriage close to retirement, divorce and remarriage. Please see Marriage & Divorce for more information.

Working While Pensioned

The Clergy Pension Plan provides options for clergy who would like to continue to serve the Episcopal Church after retirement. See Working While Pensioned for more information.

Pensions Disclaimer