Requesting Your Pension Benefits

In general, you must file an application with CPF about three months before the date you want to retire. However, there are two application filing exceptions noted below. As part of the application process, you may choose your form of payment and designate a beneficiary.

Before completing a retirement application, CPF recommends that you arrange a meeting with your canonical bishop (or, in your bishop’s absence, the Ecclesiastical Authority) to discuss your retirement plans and anticipated retirement date.

Important note: You should obtain the signature of your canonical bishop (or, in his or her absence, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese where you are canonically resident) on your application for retirement. Your bishop’s signature does not necessarily have to be submitted at the same time as your own signature on the retirement application (and the option election form, if applicable), but it does need to be submitted before you can commence receipt of your pension. If you are age 72, or have been deposed or removed, your bishop’s signature is not required.

CPF must receive your completed application to retire prior to your anticipated retirement date in order for Client Services to process your retirement for that date. Retroactive retirements are not generally permitted.

Application Filing Exceptions: CPF recommends that you file a retirement application to ensure that you select the payment option that meets your needs. The following, however, are two situations when CPF will automatically begin pension payments even if you do not complete a retirement application:

  1. If you have reached your required beginning date under Internal Revenue Service regulations (typically, April 1 of the year following the year in which you attain age 70½); or
  2. If you reach the Mandatory Church Retirement Age (age 72).

See When Your Pension Benefits Begin for more information about these two situations. In either situation, if CPF does not receive a completed retirement application on time, your pension benefit will be based on the normal form of payment and your marital status in CPF’s records at that time. If you want to choose your form of pension payment and designate a beneficiary, we encourage you to contact our Client Services group no later than three months after you turn age 70, if you are no longer working in the Church at the time, or at least three months before you turn age 72, if you are still working in the Church.

Receiving Your Pension Payments

CPF strongly encourages you to have all retirement benefit payments sent directly to your bank by electronic transfer. Using this method allows CPF to transmit retirement benefit payments directly to your bank account, which helps to ensure that they arrive safely and are deposited on time. All you need to do is complete a Payment Method Authorization Form. Once the banking relationship is established, there is no need for further maintenance, unless your banking information changes.

Receiving Your Pension Payments

Benefits Designated as Housing Allowance

CPF’s Board of Trustees designates the full amount of each benefit paid to retired or disabled clergy, including the Christmas benefit, the resettlement benefitdisability benefits and the bridge benefit (if applicable), as eligible for the Internal Revenue Code Section 107 housing allowance exclusion. This means that you may be able to exclude the portion of your benefits that is used for housing expenses from your taxable income. However, the amount of the housing allowance that you may exclude on your federal income tax return cannot exceed the lowest of:

  • The total amount you actually spend during the year for items that directly relate to renting or providing a home; or
  • The fair rental value of your home (including garage, furniture, and appliances) plus the cost of utilities; or
  • The retirement or disability benefits received.

The resettlement benefit is considered to be part of your retirement benefits for federal income tax purposes (unless you elect to roll it over to an eligible retirement plan or individual retirement account). As such, it is also included in the amount designated as a housing allowance. As a result, the limits above apply to both the monthly pension benefit and the resettlement benefit in the calendar year in which you receive them.

If you do not plan to take the housing allowance exclusion on the entire amount of retirement benefits that you receive in a calendar year, you may elect to have federal and/or state income taxes withheld. To do so, please contact our Client Services group to obtain the proper forms. You may change your withholding at any time by contacting Client Services.

The housing allowance exclusion is only available to ordained clergy and ends in the event of your death. It is not available to your surviving spouse or dependents.

Each year, CPF publishes both a Tax Guide for Episcopal Ministers and the Federal Reporting Requirements for Episcopal Churches that may contain useful information for you and your employer.  We encourage you to share these materials with your individual accountant or tax advisor. You may also call our Tax Hotline for assistance.

Benefits Designated as Housing Allowance

Mistaken Payments

If you or your survivors receive incorrect payment(s) for any reason, overpayments may be charged against, and underpayments may be added to, any benefits otherwise payable to you or your survivors. Interest may be charged or paid, depending on the circumstances.

Mistaken Payments