Marriage just before or in retirement, can affect a spouse’s benefits.
The spouses of active clergy are beneficiaries of The Church Pension Fund and automatically receive a benefit if the cleric dies before retirement. However, a marriage close to retirement could affect a spouse’s benefits.
Should the recently married cleric die in retirement, the surviving spouse would receive full survivor’s benefits only if:
- The couple had been married for at least three years, and
- The cleric had earned at least three full years of Credited Service while married before retirement.
UPDATE: Retirement Benefits Available for Same-Gender Spouses
As you may know, for clergy who are legally married to a same-gender spouse, the spouse is eligible for full spousal benefits if the cleric earns at least three years of credited service while married.
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 same-gender spouses until December 31, 2017. Specifically, whether clergy are active or retired, we are allowing same-gender spouses of clergy to receive full (or partial) spousal benefits if they are legally married and can present an Affidavit of Committed Relationship by December 31, 2017, to show their spouse's eligibility for benefits. Same-gender surviving spouses of retired participants may also be eligible for spousal benefits under certain circumstances.
- Download the Affidavit of Committed Relationship
- Download the Affidavit of Support of Committed Relationship
Clergy who have already submitted an affidavit and made a spousal benefit election do not need to submit another affidavit, and the election they made will continue to apply. If, however, a cleric previously submitted an affidavit and was not eligible to make a spousal benefit election, he or she should call Client Services to discuss his or her specific situation.
We are making every effort to communicate this opportunity to everyone. 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.
If a cleric marries after retirement, the new spouse is not automatically a beneficiary of the clergy pension plan.
A cleric may elect to provide a spouse with a survivor’s benefit by reducing their own pension payments. This change must occur within 180 days of the marriage.