If You Die Before You Retire

Preretirement Survivor Benefit

If you die before you retire, your eligible beneficiary(ies) may receive a monthly preretirement survivor benefit. To be eligible, you must be an Active participant in the Clergy Pension Plan (or, if you are not Active, then you must be vested) at the time of your death. The amount and duration of the preretirement survivor benefit will vary depending on your status under the Clergy Pension Plan, age at the time of death, and your eligible beneficiaries.

Eligible beneficiaries include:

  • Your surviving spouse;
  • Your eligible children; and
  • Any disabled person who is your tax dependent.

You can choose to designate a beneficiary; however, if the person(s) you designate is not considered an eligible beneficiary at the time you file a beneficiary form with CPF and/or at the time of your death, your beneficiary designation will be void. This means that no preretirement survivor benefit will be payable unless you are survived by your spouse or eligible children.

Transition rule during 2018
If you die on or before December 31, 2018, the preretirement survivor benefit will be payable to any person or trust that has been designated as your beneficiary, even if that beneficiary is not in one of the eligible classes listed above. This transition rule only applies if a beneficiary form is on file with CPF prior to January 1, 2018.

If you name a beneficiary for the preretirement survivor benefit, the following rules will apply:

  • The beneficiary must be a person. Please note that if the eligible beneficiary is disabled, a special needs trust may be designated. If you are married, your spouse must provide written, notarized consent if you do not name him or her as the sole primary beneficiary.
  • If you marry after filing a beneficiary designation with CPF, your beneficiary designation will become void after CPF is notified about your marriage. In this case, your spouse becomes your beneficiary.
  • If you designate more than one eligible beneficiary, the preretirement survivor benefit will be divided equally, and each beneficiary will receive only his or her own share.
  • If you do not designate a beneficiary, if your beneficiary dies before you, or if your beneficiary designation is invalid or void, the preretirement survivor benefit will be paid to:

If you do not have a spouse, eligible child(ren), or an eligible designated beneficiary at the time of your death, no preretirement survivor benefit will be paid from the Clergy Pension Plan.

Minimum Spousal Pension: The Clergy Pension Plan provides a minimum pension to a cleric’s surviving spouse. The minimum spousal pension is set at 80% of what the cleric’s minimum pension would have been, based on the cleric’s actual Credited Service and, if applicable, projected Credited Service. CPF will automatically determine if a cleric’s spouse is entitled to a minimum spousal pension.

Preretirement Survivor Benefit Amount

If you were an Active participant and eligible to retire under the Clergy Pension Plan at the time of your death, the preretirement survivor benefit generally will be equal to the greater of:

  • 50% of the pension benefit that you would have received based on your actual Credited Service, projected Credited Service to age 65, and your Highest Average Compensation; or
  • 100% of the pension benefit that you would have received based on your actual Credited Service and your Highest Average Compensation, subject to the following reductions:

    1. the actuarial reduction that would have applied had you elected the 100% joint and survivor option; and
    2. the early retirement reduction that would have applied if you had not earned at least 30 years of Credited Service at the time of death.

This is how the preretirement survivor benefit works under different situations:


If you were an Active participant and were not eligible to retire under the Clergy Pension Plan at the time of your death:

The preretirement survivor benefit generally will equal 50% of the pension benefit that you would have received based on your actual Credited Service, projected Credited Service to age 65, and your Highest Average Compensation.


If you were an Inactive participant but were otherwise vested under the Clergy Pension Plan at the time of your death:

The preretirement survivor benefit will equal 50% of the pension benefit that you would have received based on your actual Credited Service and your Highest Average Compensation.

In addition to the preretirement survivor benefit, the following benefits may be payable:


Resettlement Benefit

If you were an Active participant at the time of your death, the resettlement benefit will be paid to your eligible beneficiary(ies). If, however, you had already received the resettlement benefit yourself (either because you were disabled or because you retired and then subsequently returned to active ministry), no resettlement benefit will be payable to your eligible beneficiary(ies).


Christmas Benefit

Every December in which the preretirement survivor benefit is payable, a Christmas benefit equal to $25 times your actual Credited Service and, if applicable, projected Credited Service will be paid. If you have more than one eligible beneficiary who is receiving a preretirement survivor benefit, one Christmas benefit will be divided equally among all of your beneficiaries.


Discretionary Cost-of-Living Adjustments

The monthly preretirement survivor benefit will be subject to any discretionary cost-of-living adjustments that may be approved by CPF’s Board of Trustees.

Preretirement Survivor Benefit Amount

Duration of the Preretirement Survivor Benefit

How long the preretirement survivor benefit is payable depends on who your beneficiary is. If your surviving spouse, eligible child who is disabled, or any other disabled person who is your tax dependent is your beneficiary, he or she will receive a monthly preretirement survivor benefit for his or her lifetime. If your eligible child who is not disabled is your beneficiary, he or she will receive a monthly benefit only until he or she reaches age 25.

Duration of the Preretirement Survivor Benefit