Spouse or Beneficiary's Benefit
Death Before Retirement
- At the time of your death, if you were eligible for early or normal retirement and were married to your current eligible spouse for at least a year, your spouse receives 50% of the benefit you would have received on retirement.
- Assessments must be up-to-date at the time of your death.
- If you are under the age of 65 at the time of your death, the benefit will be determined using 10 years of Credited Service or your actual years of Credited Service, whichever is greater.
- If you are age 65 or older, the benefit will be determined using your actual years of Credited Service.
UPDATE: Pre-Retirement Survivor Benefits Available for Same-Gender Surviving Spouses
The Lay Defined Benefit Plan provides a survivor benefit to eligible spouses — same-gender and opposite-gender — of active employees who die at or after age 55 but before retirement. Under current rules, to be eligible, a surviving spouse must have been legally married to an active employee for at least 12 months prior to the employee’s death.
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 a period of time. Specifically, the period during which the employee and same-gender surviving spouse were in a committed relationship will be credited toward fulfilling the 12-month marriage requirement. To qualify for this benefit, the lay employee or same-gender surviving spouse must submit a marriage certificate and an Affidavit of Committed Relationship by December 31, 2017. Please call the Client Services team at (866) 802-6333 to obtain a copy of the affidavit form.
We are making every effort to communicate this around the Church. 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 email@example.com.
Death In Retirement
- If you wish to ensure that your surviving spouse or other beneficiary continues to receive a benefit, you may reduce your own benefit at the time you retire to provide 50%, 66-2/3%, 75% or 100% of the benefit to a survivor.
- If you are married, the automatic surviving spouse option (50%) will apply unless you elect another option and your spouse consents.
- This one-time election must be made at the time of retirement and is irrevocable.
- You were an active lay employee of a participating church employer when the injury or illness occurred.
- You apply for Disability Retirement from your employer.
- You have been certified by Liberty Mutual*, which has been designated as The Church Pension Fund Medical Board for the Lay Defined Benefit Plan as being totally and permanently disabled. Liberty Mutual may require periodic certification of continuing disability.
- Your assessment payments are current.
Your benefit is calculated based on your work history as of the date of your disability:
- Less than 10 years of Credited Service: your benefit calculation is based on 10 years of Credited Service.
- 10 years or more of Credited Service: your benefit calculation is based on your total Credited Service.
- Less than 5 years of Credited Service: you are automatically vested.
- If you are still disabled when you reach normal retirement age, the payment option that you elected when you became disabled will continue to apply.
- Benefits can begin as early as the first day of the month after you become disabled.
- Benefits continue until you recover, die or fail to submit satisfactory proof of your continuing disability, whichever appears first.
- When you reach your Normal Retirement date, the disability benefit ends, and the Normal Retirement benefit begins.
- While you are an active participant in the plan, and before you reach age 72, The Church Pension Fund provides a death benefit equal to two times your annual earnings or $50,000, whichever is less.
- Your named beneficiary receives this benefit.
- You must complete a Lay Lump Sum Death Benefit Beneficiary Designation Form for this benefit.
Access to the Retirement Savings Plan
The Episcopal Church Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that gives clergy and lay employees in our defined benefit pension plans the option of contributing their own money toward their retirement savings. Learn more
For details, please refer to A Guide To Benefits Under the Lay Defined Benefit Plan
If you believe that you have been denied a benefit that you are due under the Lay Defined Benefit Plan, you have the option to file an appeal. Download information on the claims and appeals process.
* The Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Mutual)
The Lay Defined Benefit Plan is a qualified plan under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, but as a church plan, it is not subject to ERISA. The plan's financial condition is disclosed in the Church Pension Group Annual Report.
The Church Pension Fund, as sponsor of this plan, continues to monitor the funding status closely. Like many defined benefit plans, the Lay Defined Benefit Plan currently is not fully funded. The Church Pension Fund retains the right to amend, terminate or modify the terms of the Lay Defined Benefit Plan, including the employer assessment rate, without notice and for any reason.